We’ve all been there. We can see the signs, feel the frustration, and have all the will to succeed but struggle to implement the change we need to make it happen. Change is hard.

Shifts in regular routines and practice are hard enough when it’s personal but often even harder when it’s part of a bigger business that has kept things the same for many years.

But in the world of technology, and business in general, if companies don’t move with the times and embrace technological advances quickly, they risk being left behind and what they can offer will lack competitive advantage with their customers.

Shaking up the tech stack is no small effort but like many business decisions, it’s straightforward to do the data analysis and tick the boxes of approval for a new tool or piece of software. What often gets forgotten, however – especially when modernising at pace – is the communication and impact it will have on the people within the business.

Human psychology is often the most impactful barrier to modernisation. People who operate within the business find it challenging to adapt to new technology and more modern ways of working and if trust isn’t built early on and nurtured throughout the process, the risk of losing people along the way is increased.

For personnel, often it isn’t about the changes in business architecture or workflow setups, but about confidence, upskilling, and the feeling of safety. Change, and having to adapt to a new way of working, can often feel like starting a new job – or a bit like having to switch from using a PC to a Mac (or vice versa). It can be frustrating and feel totally alien as muscle memory has to be re-tuned.

The psychology of these changes is often vastly underestimated but if we can better understand how to support teams through these transitions, a business is more likely to adapt with better efficiency, a more robust architecture, workflow setups and ultimately, motivated staff.

Trust however takes time, and it takes work – like any relationship. It starts with a proactive communication approach and a two-way dialogue.

Slow and steady wins the race

For companies that operate with many users – especially those that have been with the business for a long time – using the same software, encouraging them to make a switch or get familiar with new implementation units, etc. is a long process. Team leaders need to prepare for slower productivity initially and put support plans in place to help employees get into ‘change mode’.

Often the openness to change is met with reluctance and this is very usual. The time required for training and the shift in the day-to-day software they use is the constant enabler so incentives, motivation, and patience will help to instil trust, which in return, will pay out in effectiveness longer term.

Placing trust in a tech partner to really support these areas is essential too – especially as the business works to maintain a business-as-usual approach as they adopt new processes.

Leading a customer success team as part of a technology service provider to big broadcast giants like Sky, CBS, and the BBC, I helped to navigate this a lot. What we do is more than customer service. In the tech world, ensuring a good customer experience goes beyond just how well a product works but also investing in people and training.

At Vizrt, we spend a lot of time demonstrating our technology, showcasing the upgrade path, and enabling conversations with other customers who resisted and then made the jump. Endorsements from the user community are also useful to gather and enable us to feedback to our R&D teams to make it easier to upgrade and maintain our software. We invest a lot into the latest versions being backwards compatible as well to make the whole process as easy as possible.

We believe at the heart of customer success is customer experience and satisfaction. If we focus on delivering a positive experience for customers — not just while they buy and use technology, but also to support long-term business goals — we will see higher satisfaction rates and retention.

Technology evolves at an exponential rate, so companies often find they’re on a never-ending cycle of adaptation, which can be overwhelming. As a trusted advisor to our end users and customers, it is our job to support them through the process. Often, we find that it isn’t so much about the contractual terms, but about actual relationships and understanding one another.

How companies should deal with change

Those businesses that do it well work as a team to see success through change and modernisation. By partnering with their vendors and really planning out a solution that makes sense for them, they can adopt a strategy and timescale that employees can get on board with.

Investing in training, masterclass sessions, technical expertise, and collaboration shows employees that they understand that people need support and again, builds trust and loyalty.  But this must be intuitive and not a cumbersome activity.

This is where we find understanding the business of our customers is key. We take the time to appreciate the users’ experience and how they engage with our software as well as the time they have or are given by management, for onboarding.

It must work for the customer too – they of course get the benefits of updated software, but it’s often about making the time factor the priority. This is where customer success teams and partners need to really step in and help activate programs of change.

To improve the process even further, tech vendors must make the process of keeping software updated easier for the customer. Investing in tools and software versions that make these upgrades easier, will help businesses keep a healthy software install base.

Allocating sufficient time to keep resources technically updated, distributing resources to complete upgrades and maintenance, and documenting workflows are essential to make the modernisation process better.

Team leaders also must be proactive with feedback and concerns. All too often management teams go with the mantra of “it’s not broken so let’s not touch it…” but this only kicks the problem down the road and results in more complex transitions in the long term. Adaptation, modernisation, and having to make substantial shifts to cater to new customer needs, should be part of a business’s ongoing strategy and reviewed regularly for true success.

Being customer-centric in every sense of the word is, in my experience, the key to a business’s long-term success. Understanding how established companies with legacy modernise using technology to keep up with their new and evolving customers is a huge and fascinating part of my job.

With time, close relationships are inevitably built as the customer’s priorities and what they need to achieve are understood better, which ensures we drive true value as their customer success team – and this makes us all more successful overall, which ultimately makes good business sense.

About the author

By Vanessa Walmsley, Global Head of Customer Success, Vizrt, leader in data-driven, real-time graphics and live production for content creators

Vanessa Walmsley