People claim they like new experiences, which may be true, but it is also true that many people don’t like changes in the things to which they have grown accustomed.
In our ever-expanding technological world, most people enjoy the idea of surfing the internet, taking pictures, talking to friends, checking their calendar, etc. on their cell phone, which was once a luxury but is a necessity today. But, as much as people may like doing new things, the old ways become a well-established habit that is not easily changed, unless the reason and procedure is explained in a positive, and not demanding, manner. Try changing the way Facebook works and see the storm of protest, no matter how cool the changes are.
New Procedures Can Become Habits That Feel Natural
We see these changes all the time. For example wedding registries, where brides-to-be would go to the store and register in a book what kind of china, stemware and flatware she desired for wedding gifts, have undergone significant changes.
Now future brides and grooms go to a department store, are handed a scanner and they then go throughout the store scanning the items they would like to have, ranging from china and flatware to power tools and camping supplies. In this scenario, the process of registering for wedding gifts remains. The groom has more involvement in the process. The invited guests now have more gift options to consider. And the store has a lot more chances to sell those gifts.
However, take the same store, where cash registers have been replaced with the latest handheld devices. These scan credit cards, scan the price of the item, and allow for the entry of the delivery date, extended warranty information, handle returns and recognize coupons. The process, while perhaps more efficient, does requires more personal participation. Instead of putting your items on the counter and waiting for the total cost, customers and employees are now at the mercy of a small and unfamiliar device. And that might not be popular, because it’s so different from the norm.
Simple Tasks Become Harder Unless Explained
Something as simple, today at least, as e-mail, can cause unbelievable uproar in the office if the system is being changed from everyone’s e-mail neatly contained within their own computer to being housed on a network server that only the company’s computer geek is allowed to touch.
Suddenly, individual privacy appears to be violated, despite the promises of security, passwords, and the like. However, phase it in, and then let people learn they can access their e-mail from home with the new system. Explain that there will be benefits. For example instead of having to choose between staying at home with a sick child and maybe missing out on a day’s pay, or going in to work and worrying all day long, you can now stay with your child, communicate by phone or e-mail and still get work done.
As a society, caught in the vortex of the technological age, it is being recognized that things are moving too quickly but are not necessarily more productive. New and improved tools are being made available, and some people insist on having the latest and greatest. Yet, oftentimes we are accomplishing less, because we are learning how to use the new tools instead of doing assigned tasks.
Advance Warning and Explanations Make Upgrades Easier
It would be wise for companies planning technological changes to announce that an upgrade is being considered, to conduct some demonstrations, and gradually phase in the system either using path-finding individuals who are more technically inclined, or whole departments that may make the best use of the new advances.
In the movie “Cool Hand Luke”, Paul Newman has the classic line “What we have here is a failure to communicate,” before he is knocked to the ground. Today, we have that same problem in that we can communicate around the world, but marketers, management, and those who use the latest and greatest to their fullest extent are often not communicating with the rest of the people, who are having these changes thrust upon them.
The winning business understands this, and makes sure that technological changes are easy to understand and deliver direct benefits to employees, suppliers, and in particular, to customers.