How can we get users to look for help in a self-service system rather than in the usual way, by contacting staffed support? When a new way of working with new routines is to be implemented, it means change to the existing situation. People react differently to change. The blog article gives you basic knowledge of the change process that is essential for changing user behavior.
Why is it hard to change behavior?
When a new strategy, way of working and routines are implemented in an organization, it normally entails that the existing situation is changed and new demands arise. Organizations consist of people and to succeed with improvement work we must first understand people’s needs and fears. Many people are uncomfortable when facing change and would rather continue working as before. Others think it’s exciting, appreciate change, and are quick to understand the benefits. By understanding the various phases in the change process we learn to deal with people’s different reactions.
The four phases of the change process
The Change Curve is a popular and powerful model that is used to understand the various transitory phases most people go through when changes are made. The model helps you to predict how people will react to a change, to find a good approach and it aids communication during each phase to help everyone move forward in the transition. The easier you can make each person’s journey of change, the sooner your organization will benefit, and the greater the probability that you will succeed.
The Change Curve is often used in business and working with change, and there are many variations and adaptations. The model is often attributed to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and is a result of her work with individuals’ transitions from sorrow to loss. The Change Curve consists of four phases – Denial, Resistance, Opportunities and Action.
1. Denial phase
In the first phase people can be in shock and denial; they don’t understand the need for change. They can become passive and hope that things will blow over. Communication is critical in the denial phase. Make sure that you frequently communicate, but also that you do not overwhelm people with information. They will only be able to take in a limited amount of information at a time. But make sure that you know where you can find more information if they need it.
The service desk should communicate with users prior to launch of the self-service system. Clarify the purpose and the benefits the users will attain, such as increased help around the clock without needing to wait and that they also will receive quicker help with more complex cases due to the load on staffed support being lightened.
2. Resistance phase
In the resistance phase people begin reacting to the change when they begin to realize that it is actually being implemented. They can feel anxiety, frustration, anger, bitterness and fear. They often need to react verbally as a way of releasing their emotions. “Why can’t I call the service desk like I’ve always done before?” “I think this is a terrible idea!” and so forth. For the organization this phase is the most decisive and challenging. If this phase is poorly handled, the organization can pass into a state of crisis or chaos. It doesn’t help to just push past the problem. It’s necessary with careful planning, preparation as well as consideration to the possible consequences and the objections the users may have and how these are to be met. The service desk’s role should be especially responsive in the phase by responding to users’ questions, reactions and arguments.
A way of reducing resistance is to find ambassadors in the organization who take part in planning the change. They can be managers or persons who many trust and who have the ability to exert influence. It’s important that change work is open and honest.
3. Opportunities phase
The opportunities phase is the turning point for both individuals and the organization. Here the users understand that the change cannot be avoided. Acceptance grows and they explore what the change entails. They test their own values and picture how the change can affect their everyday work and the role they will have during and after the change. Be aware that this step is decisive for learning and acceptance, and that it takes time. Do not expect 100 percent productivity during this phase.
In this phase it is important to ensure that the users are well trained. The service desk should clarify the users’ and the service desk’s roles and routines. If a user calls the service desk, staffed support should refer him or her to the self-service system, which entails that the users gradually learn the new routine. It is also important to explain where the self-service system can be found, such as on the company intranet, in the case management system and directly in a program where the problem occurs.
In this phase there are also major opportunities for collaboration and participation. When the users explore what the change entails for them they will often want to compromise and may come with new ideas that the service desk should listen to.
4. Action phase
In the action phase, the change has become accepted. The users begin to see the advantages and take action based on the new situation. There is a risk that users will fall back to their old patterns. The service desk should remind users by continuously marketing the self-service system via for example, information meetings, newsletters, the intranet, email signatures and telephone answering machines. It is also important in this phase to follow up the content in the system and update it based on users’ needs. There is otherwise the risk that the self-service system will seldom provide the answers the users want and they will begin calling staffed support again. Do not forget to celebrate successes. This will remind all concerned to continue with the new system, and celebrating will make it easier when a new change is needed in the future.
Everyone reacts differently to change and not all will experience each phase. Some stay longer in the first and second phase, while others who are more favorable to change go directly to the third phase. The situation is also a factor in this. If the majority of your users are not pleased with the present situation, there is greater chance that they will welcome a change and see it as an opportunity. It is therefore advisable to conduct an analysis of the users’ present experience of support services and think about which phases you need to work with most in your organization.
Thanks for reading my article. If you whant to read more in this area, read the whitepaper Resolve more support cases with a clear self-service strategy
Therese Walve, Marketing Manager, ComAround