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Why a CSM needs to Implement Force Field Analysis in their decision-making?

Do you find it difficult to make tough decisions in your line of work? Do you lose sleep over it? Do you feel nervous and fret over making the right decision? If your answer to any of these questions is ‘YES”, then probably you don’t know the concept of Force field analysis. 

‘Hey, but I’m a Customer Success Manager (CSM), not a scientist.  Why should I care about this?’ Well, let me tell you that when you’re making a decision that requires a change, it’s always better to have a technique or a system in place. Force field analysis is one of those techniques. 

Customer Onboarding Template

What is a Force field analysis? 

Kurt Lewin, often recognized as the father of social psychology, developed this concept in the 1940s. Obviously, it was created to be used in social psychology back then. However, the concept has been gaining importance in the years gone by. 

Force field analysis provides a template or a framework for identifying the forces that affect a process or a situation. The idea is that there are 2 types of forces that exist when you need to make a decision:

  • Forces (factors) that favor or drive  the decision
  • Forces (factors) that oppose or protest  the decision
force field analysis image

With the help of this tool or technique, you can analyze the factors that favor or oppose the decision or the desired change. It becomes easy for you to communicate the reason for making a particular decision. 

The two forces- driving and protesting- are in equilibrium in an ideal world. When you need to carry out a process or make a decision, these forces can be controlled. You can either strengthen the driving forces or weaken the protesting factors or forces to make the change. 

Why should a CSM implement Force field analysis?

Imagine you want to take a particular decision. For example, as a CSM, you want to know how your recently onboarded customer feels about their onboarding experience. You wish to gather their feedback on the same. Once the feedback is with you, analysis of the same is the next step. 

Suggested Read: The Ulitmate Guide to Customer Onboarding

Here, you can use force field analysis to:

  • Determine what went wrong with the customer while onboarding
  • Prepare a roadmap to strengthen the ‘positive’.
  • Weaken the ‘negatives’ that impact your onboarding process.
  • Identify who the biggest critics are.
  • Figure out ways to influence the ‘opposing’ forces, etc. 

These steps will help you achieve the desired improvements in your onboarding process in the way you wish to.

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How should a CSM implement the same? 

Let’s dive deeper into the actual process of implementing force field analysis within the customer success team. For a better understanding, let’s take the previous example of your customer onboarding process and move ahead. 

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Decide and define your ‘desired change’ clearly 

If you wish to improve your customer onboarding process, then identify what exactly is that you want to do. Do you wish to drive time to value faster? Do you want to provide in-product guidance along the customer journey? What’s the outcome that you expect when the change is implemented?

Clarifying the objective is the first and the most important step in conducting force field analysis. You need to clearly understand the customer’s onboarding journey to make a definite call. Identify their pain points and possible discussion topics. 

For our example, let’s say that you want to reduce the onboarding time from 180 days to 90 days.

Objective image

Identify the ‘driving factors/forces’ for the change 

The next step is to identify the potential driving forces that will favor this change. These are the positive influences for your change. You need to strengthen them to ensure a favorable outcome. 

Again, in our example, we can say that having an efficient sales to onboarding/customer success handoff is a driving force. Similarly, a collaboration between different teams in the firm can add value to the customer’s interactions. Providing in-app guidance to customers whenever they’re stuck at a particular step is another way to bring about the change. 

Driving forces image

Identify the ‘opposing factors/forces’ against the change

You know the drill now. The obvious next step is to see what can go wrong. It is to identify the factors that can weaken the impact of the driving forces. These forces will make it harder to achieve the change that you want. 

Loss of customer information during the handoff process is a major setback and can incredibly impact your objective. Similarly, customers expect personalization these days. Hence, if your cross-functional teams are giving out generic messages, then it’s going to be tough. Not providing proactive in-product guidance can be another opposing force. 

Opposing forces image

Assign a score for the identified factors/forces

Each factor/force has its own impact on the resulting outcome. These forces will vary in strength. So, rank these forces on a scale of 1 to 5. Rank the strongest force with ‘5’ and the weakest with ‘1’. Take into consideration the level of effort it takes to drive these forces and rank them accordingly. 

This score represents the impact of the forces on the decision quantitatively. The figure below shows the score for our example. As a CSM, you and your team know what and how much effort it requires to drive a particular result.

Assign scores image

Develop the ‘change management plan

By this stage, you have everything you need. Now, act on it. Create a change management plan according to the overall score that you achieved for your desired change. If you have a long list of forces, it’s good but do not be aggressive while implementing them. Do not try to do everything at once. 

The following points will help you in finalizing your action plan.

  • Clearly define the objective for the change.
  • Review both the driving and protesting forces.
  • Mention clearly who will own what step of the process.
  • Be clear about the timeline. 
  • Create a space for feedback from internal and external stakeholders.

Limitations of Force field analysis

No theory is perfect. There are a few limitations to this theory as well. Some of them are as follows:

  • It takes time to develop these forces and analyze them.
  • It is subjective. No two CSMs can rank a specific force similarly. Hence, varying results are a problem. 
  • You cannot use this tool to solve or analyze complex problems or to bring a drastic change in your process.
  • It simply relies on the information provided. It cannot process or analyze information on its own.

Final thoughts

Despite these limitations, force field analysis is a go-to tool for you to analyze different factors that impact a change. This simple framework tries to figure out the efforts that must go into bringing about a change.

Defining the objective clearly, identifying the driving and protesting forces, assigning scores to each force, and creating an action plan help in mapping out a roadmap. A roadmap that can be rectified according to the feedback from the stakeholders. Thus, force field analysis is a tool that has its own place and importance in customer success. 

P.S.- Photo by Alexas Fotos: https://www.pexels.com/photo/time-for-change-sign-with-led-light-2277784/ 

Content marketer at CustomerSuccessBox | An avid reader, a passionate writer and a life long learner | Writer @ Hacker Noon | B2B SaaS & Customer Success enthusiast |