Overcoming hesitance and fear of change

How to get staff to act and support them through the roller coaster of change.

Change is an emotional roller coaster for many staff

Perhaps the single most common mistake made with Customer Journey work is underestimating how hard it is to get people to do something new or differently.  All too often we hear of research that has identified a clear opportunity and led to the design of a new journey which has been trained to seemingly supportive front-line staff.

And then….?


…. nothing much happens.

Front line teams at this point might start to question the whole basis of the project, or to explain about the constraints on their time, or to describe the problems they anticipate or have found. Often the project team have moved on to the next issue and the change falters and ultimately dies.

If this sounds familiar or you want to make sure it doesn’t happen to your project then here are some thoughts and practical steps you can take that will help.

First it is worth reminding ourselves what the human response to change is.

The change emotional roller coaster
Overcome hesitancy and fear to create action and excitement

One of our B2B Clients recently piloted a customer out-reach call in the aftermath of COVID.  The call was to check in, find out how the business was doing, what their plans were and, if possible, to provide practical help.  It was at least to leave customers with the knowledge that the company was always ready to listen and to be as flexible as possible.  The people making these calls were customer relationship management staff and our Client had assumed this was an easy ask that would be quickly and widely implemented.

Yet when it came to it none of the managers in the pilot wanted to make the calls.  We coached the project team to go back and explore why the staff in the pilot hadn’t picked up the phone.  As anticipated they heard a barrage of objections:

We’ve already done this, we know our customers

Our customers are too busy, they won’t want to talk to us right now

We’re too busy

Contact now will just stimulate people to cancel; it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.

We helped the team to get through the justifications to the heart of the matter.  Staff were worried that they wouldn’t have the skill to manage potentially difficult conversations, that they would make a bad situation worse, that they didn’t have all the answers or the language or tools to overcome a situation that was larger than them.

This realisation led to 5 critical changes to the project plan:

  1. To help front-line staff get through the emotional roller-coaster and into action we helped the project team structure a coaching, mentoring and support programme to replace the short training session.
  2. The programme took staff right back to the rationale for why the call was important and the cost of doing nothing.  Findings from our research provided a powerful element of this.
  3. We had to reassure staff in the pilot that they were not expected to be perfect that their role was to test and experiment.  The pilot was then used to create a benchmark which showed what the call could realistically achieve.  This rather than perfection was the benchmark that staff were asked to aim for.
  4. We helped develop a new approach where staff were supported to test, learn and develop their own language and way of handling these calls.
  5. And finally we develop the training and mentoring structure that reassured them that they would get the support they needed to develop this new, higher-level skill and would enjoy greater confidence in their customer management capability as a result.

What had initially been thought of as a ‘simple, no brainer’ change took more time and effort to implement and embed than had been anticipated but a proper pilot with rigorous measurement provided hard evidence that this remained the right thing to do.

If you want to talk about what you can do to make CX change happen then do talk to me.  I’m always happy to share experiences, to talk through your challenges and suggest new approaches you could take.