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Five Signs Your Company Culture Is Holding Back Service Automation.

If your organisation has not implemented service automation, there is no need to panic - you may be closer to…

Five Signs Your Company Culture Is Holding Back Service Automation

29th May 2024

By Andy Venables, Founder and CTO at POPX

If your organisation has not implemented service automation, there is no need to panic – you may be closer to the promised land than you think. Every digital transformation needs the holy trinity of people, process and technology to come together. If you are confident in the technology that runs your service operations and if you have a reliable transformation partner with tried and tested methodologies to make it happen, the next task is to look at the role of people and culture to ensure nothing is holding you back in your change management or organisational design efforts.

With this in mind, we have identified five common signs when company culture could be inhibiting the transition to service automation. We’ll also look at some of the tweaks that could help you get over those hurdles so that your business is set up to take full advantage of the many benefits of automation.

The stuck culture – “We don’t have the tools we need to do the job”

The importance that staff place on the tools they use to complete tasks satisfactorily, and the ease with which they can use them, should not be underestimated. Get this wrong, and it will certainly contribute to staff discontent, which will then negatively impact the customer experience. In a worst-case scenario, people may vote with their feet and leave the business out of frustration.

People move jobs, that’s an inevitable aspect of working life, but too much chopping and changing will lead to a cycle of new, inexperienced starters having to go through training, again and again, which inevitably costs time, money and productivity. You don’t want poor systems and tooling to be a cause for higher-than-average staff turnover and training costs.

Incorporating the latest service management technology can be a win-win on this front. Your staff will be able to cut down on time-consuming mundane activities and instead perform productive tasks at a much higher output, which in turn will lead to greater job satisfaction and value for customers.

Commit to giving staff the best technology they need to do their job and make it a part of your corporate identity. By embracing solutions like ServiceNow, you are setting a precedent that you are committed to innovation and providing the foundations for staff to perform their jobs optimally, as well as removing any day-to-day frustrations that occur from inadequate tooling.

The negative thinking culture – “We’ve always done it this way”

Never has there been a better reason for implementing change when the only objections to not doing so are based on fear and a lack of imagination. Striving to innovate, add value and differentiate your service will do far more to stimulate growth than penny-pinching, which is more likely to be a false economy and cost the business more. Sticking rigidly to old ways of working prevents improvement and progression. No successful business has ever stood still, just ask Blockbuster!

While a business continues to persist with the status quo because it’s the comfortable thing to do, they are losing out on the benefits of what new technology and service management techniques have to offer. You can bet the competition will not be so complacent and will be benefiting from delivering a superior customer experience with reduced overheads, optimised resources and higher output.

A review of your current operating model and IT architecture state will help you see where legacy practices are holding you back, and where service automation may be used to optimise processes to free up more people for value-generation projects.

Service automation is here to stay and growing fast, so it’s best to make a start on understanding how it can help transform your business as soon as possible.

The hopelessly optimistic culture – “We can do it ourselves”

It’s often a tragic story when organisations think in those most fatal words: “How hard can it be?” and then embark on handing over key digital transformation responsibilities to a couple of in-house developers, expecting them to fix and automate every important process and customer interaction. There are many and varied reasons why this is usually a mitigated disaster. Even when this approach appears to deliver some initial results, the outcome will inevitably always be the same and at some point will need rectifying.

Going it alone in this way is very daunting and there is a lot to think about. This is why it’s worth finding an experienced partner who understands the projected costs and outcomes, the timelines for delivering all development sprints, business-as-usual planning, resourcing allocation, as well as the training and change management requirements to ensure a smooth transition.

The sunk cost culture – “We’ve paid for it, so we’re going to use it”

The sunk cost fallacy is a disastrous phenomenon where a key decision maker is opposed to abandoning a legacy strategy due to having already made investments in it. Sweating existing assets that are no longer fit for purpose, don’t support growth and cannot deliver the required employee and customer experiences is never a valid business strategy. This approach is probably best left in the past.

Giving up on a direction, no matter how hopeless it is, is always a tough decision when you have a desire to see it through to completion. Unfortunately, there is a huge difference between persistence and being obstinate, and the sunk cost fallacy falls into the latter.

The HIPPO culture – “It’s my way or the highway”

The HIPPO rule, where the highest-paid person’s opinion takes precedence, no matter how bizarre it might be, does not allow for any democratic interaction. Perhaps they are even anti-service automation because they believe every customer is unique and the organisation must mould their processes accordingly to each one! That is not going to scale and the cost to serve would render such an approach unprofitable as well as unworkable very quickly.

One approach to the HIPPO factor is to spend time getting that individual’s buy-in. As the chief decision maker in the business, they will no doubt be sold on a solid business case that outlines the financial benefits that service automation will bring to the bottom line. This makes it essential to address the situation by comparing your operating model’s current and future states, allowing you to quickly see how any proposed change could improve the business.

Successful modern organisations are not built on the opinions of just one person. Look at your governance structure and chains of command and communication to see how they might be redefined to help better decision making. As well as analysing data and research reports, it is important to invite feedback and advice from around the business, not just experienced senior leaders but also from people on the front line that interact with customers as well as your systems and tools the most. A culture that encourages members of staff to be open, creative and contribute their knowledge and ideas is the breeding ground for innovation and success. That simply cannot be achieved by a HIPPO that doesn’t listen, so if that is a problem within your business, then it is time for a cultural change.

Culture is as important as technology and process

So how can you avoid these cultural trapdoors? If your culture promotes open dialogue and does not apportion blame when things don’t go to plan, you will be in a better position to rebound from any roadblocks. Working to agile principles, project owners will be empowered to adapt and respond to challenges as and when they crop up. This way you will be able to pivot to new, more appropriate solutions much more quickly before anything goes too far in the wrong direction.

Making some simple tweaks to company culture will help unlock the successful implementation of service automation far quicker. It often begins with having open conversations that bring everyone along on the transformation journey together. Alignment is imperative, as well as the belief that service automation is ultimately going to improve things for employees and customers alike, making the company more successful.

Categories: Advice, Articles

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