Aftercare in a digital change journey should never be an afterthought

Looking beyond the monumental effort of getting a digital transformation to go-live is tough.

Looking beyond the monumental effort of getting a digital transformation to go-live is tough. Encroaching deadlines and budgetary pressure can distract from the need to communicate and cater to users’ queries. However hard you prepare, users still manage to ask the most poignant questions, miss the most obvious of signs, and find the most hidden of bugs. 

A smooth first few weeks in their adoption stage is vital to create the momentum to push users forward on their change journey. That is why quality aftercare is an essential part of the change management of any digital transformation programme. 

Think about the transformation of moving into a new property: day one, you scratch your head at how, as the agent advertised, the “low maintenance boiler” actually works. You were shown once but got distracted by the flat’s fancy-looking intercom. Flitting through the piles of exhaustive instructions didn’t help either. You find an online forum but it's a battlefield of conflicting advice. You have worked so hard on the big move itself, but then feel as an end-user, under-supported when dealing with the realities of the change. 

Great experiences and lessons on aftercare were witnessed in my time in major public sector digital transformations. With a strong focus on user-centred transformation, there are great methods and principles to emulate for anyone looking to nail user adoption and feedback loops in the early weeks. 

Here are three core post-launch options that I would recommend. 

Floor Walkers -

This roaming team is staffed to provide physical first line support with users. Although an intense resource, they can bring a face, empathy, and brand to the transformation while also being able to relay what users are feeling to the programme team. Ideally, the deployment team becomes the familiar face of the floor walking team, to allow continuity in knowledge. Bright “Here to Help” t-shirts can be useful to identify them and showcase support efforts to staff. However, engage with your Floor Walkers early, to nurse them to the  fact they could be wearing all colours of the rainbow for the next 2-3 weeks. 

Drop-In Hub -

As well as a perfect base for your new Floor Walkers to operate from, think of this hub as a physical extension to your service desk. It should be a known space, in a high-traffic area of the office, for users to bring their issues to. It is also a great place to hold any physical training materials, comms, and manage programme-related peripheral/license requests. Think carefully, based on the size of the programme, how to manage visitors. A drop-in area is also the best place to manage the recording of ad-hoc support instances. It is key to log and categorise these appropriately so progress of a roll-out can be completely tracked. The log can also be used to develop appropriate process improvements and changes to content.

Support Forum -

Threads and Channels on a firm's internal comms network can be a great way to hear user queries after a release. However, be warned. These forums can unravel into a storm for anyone trying to manage a 2-way support option. Here are a few tips to make life manageable: 

  1. Pre-populate the threads and topics within the forum and be in full control of further expansion. 
  2. Answer and exist in the network as an anonymous profile e.g. “Support Team”. 
  3. Think about defining the forum as peer-to-peer support. Then, use the chatter to help see recurring questions and build a live reference guide that can be pinned at the top of each thread.
  4. Time-box the forum. Users need to know there won’t always be someone at the end of the line.

These three services give a basic backbone of aftercare support. Regardless of the makeup of your aftercare support options, the principles listed below will help make the offerings manageable for the programme team and its end-users:

  • Log, categorise & track aftercare instances. Be able to identify whether issues with adoption are decreasing, and what the key problem areas are.
  • Time-box your aftercare offerings. Ensure users know when this hyper care support will end, providing reminders when nearing the date. 
  • Handover strategy of support and materials. When designing support solutions, work with existing teams to utilise appropriate processes and tools that can easily merge when the programme hands over to BAU.
  • Clearly communicate the existence of this support. Ensure users know where to go for help, so that they feel supported. 
  • All aftercare options direct users in a consistent manner. This ensures users filter down the correct carefully-curated journey of support materials, signposts, and sessions that have been put in place. 

When applying these aftercare principles, ensure all users are catered for, whether they are home workers, regular travellers or technophobes. The type of solution you choose will also depend on the transformation, organisation shape and budget.

Whichever blend of support you choose, I would always ensure to put in place a robust aftercare strategy. It helps to ensure the transformation is a success and offers support to an unsure and hesitant workforce. What needs to be avoided is loss of talent and a swell of discontent which can be expensive and difficult to bounce back from.