How Do You Get Executive Buy-In?
Having researched the benefits of live chat, you have probably seen the potential benefits for your business. This is great if you own your business or have executive powers in the area of technology acquisition. But if you are not in that fortunate position you have a major task ahead of you: convincing the board!
An article by change management expert, Kirk Sievert, from Canadian firm AdPro recommended an approach he referred to as ‘the 5 Bs’.
Change management is a structured process which enables a company to adopt new procedures and technology such as live chat, while also meeting current objectives and remaining on schedule and on budget. If you have little experience of change management you will need to immerse yourself in the field by studying various change management models. These models will give you an idea of best practice during change management and will enable you to frame the adoption of live chat in terms that the executive board will be comfortable with. If you can show that you have taken into account the need to meet stakeholder sales expectations and to make cutbacks in inefficient areas to finance live chat, they are likely to be impressed and also trust your judgement.
Using best practices you can then begin to build a strong business case for investing in live chat. A business case needs to address benefits (e.g. increased conversion rates, higher customer satisfaction and more efficient use of agents), risk mitigation (e.g. taking advantage of a free live chat trial); ROI and likelihood of success. For the latter two points it can be useful to bring up examples of large corporations who are already making use of live chat and seeing results. Notable examples are BSkyB, EE, and Wells Fargo. The more you can base your case around facts and research rather than emotion and baseless optimism, the more likely you are to achieve executive buy-in.
Who is on the executive board and what are their concerns? If heads of departments and stakeholders know exactly what is expected of them, they are more likely to get on board as it quells their anxiety. For example, if a senior manager knows they will need to organize training for agents and direct the web development team to design and implement the live chat interface, they will feel more comfortable than being told they will need to ready their teams for live chat. Again, the more you can demonstrate you have considered every angle of live chat implementation, the more confident they will be in your judgement.
Most executive boards contain strong characters who may challenge you on any number of points. By arming yourself with research and figures and dealing with facts (while acknowledging fears) you can avoid being dragged into a personality contest and drive home your position. In the face of opposition, try not to react angrily. Other people have the right to challenge your business case and, at the end, as long as you win over the majority you will get the buy-in you are after.
Bring in the Experts
Do you know a senior figure in another company who has already implemented and enjoyed the benefits of live chat? Or do you have industry insiders with technical knowledge of live chat platforms? Consider bringing these experts to your board meetings. Not only will they be able to address some of your colleagues’ questions, they will also provide moral support and deflect some of the intensity of the questioning.