Each year, millions of dollars are spent creating new and cutting edge software in an effort to keep up with the ever-changing and evolving tech landscape. Additionally, companies invest heavily in change management facilitators and programs to aid the introduction of new features.
The most difficult part about introducing new features is that change requires adaptation, which usually results in a dedicated effort on the part of the user. This added work can cause negative backlash if users feel the change is overwhelming or unfavorable.
We can all learn from the very public fumbles of huge companies like Spotify, Twitter and Instagram. The innovation and potentially positive impact of their new features went unnoticed because of poorly planned and marketed introductions. In Twitter’s case, the lack of change management led the company to backtrack and remove its updated block feature when the public backlash demanded a return to the original version.
So what steps can you take to make sure that when you go live with your updates, your users welcome them with enthusiasm? Develop an onboarding strategy that allows customers to take on changes and updates at their own pace, and provide them with the necessary support to do so.
Here are a few key points to follow as you begin to tackle this endeavor:
Ease customers into change
Too much change too quickly can overwhelm your users and cause frustration and resistance. In order to ensure user adoption, make the transition as seamless as possible by implementing a strategic roll-out plan.
Consider a Dark Launch: Introduce the feature first as an optional element so your users have a period to adjust to its presence before you fully establish the feature as a key part of the application. Facebook and Google use this method to ease customers into change through what they call a ‘dark launch.’ They introduce the feature first to a small, selected audience and if it goes over well, they expand to a larger audience. This allows them some wiggle room to make adjustments and tweaks before fully launching.
Create in-platform, step-by-step guidance and tutorials
This type of ‘anytime, anywhere’ support guarantees that your customers can get the help they need when and where they need it. Customer effort is reduced as they need to look no further than right there in the application to find out how to complete confusing or complex processes.
This also reduces support costs and allows your employees to focus on higher level issues that require more time and energy. Clarizen saw a 25% increase in user project activations and 50% fewer support tickets by implementing WalkMe’s guidance software. This improved Clarizen’s overall customer experience while simultaneously minimizing effort.
Welcome customer suggestions and feedback
Let your customers know that you value their opinions by supplying them with a platform to voice their suggestions and feedback. Administering surveys or opening up a user forum to encourage discussion not only keeps users engaged but it provides you with useful information about what your customers want and need.
This will also provide an opportunity to introduce ideas for possible features and see how customers react to them.
Analyze usage data
The data that your consumers generate by interacting with your software can be a great resource to you. Analyzing this usage data can tell you how the new feature is being used, who is underutilizing it, and what is causing the biggest issues for users. Armed with this information, you can better educate and support your customers through this transitional period and work to alleviate any trouble areas.
Leverage key customers’ feedback during the development process
While this is not always possible, if done correctly, it will build a very strong and engaging relationship with your key customers. Long before you introduce the feature, update key customers on what is to come and what progress is being made. You can market your update through various channels such as emails, customer newsletters, blog posts, or social media.
A great way to make sure your customers don’t miss your updates is to announce them right on your application, in an announcement bubble that pops up or on a large banner that the customer must view before proceeding to the app.
In order to give your new features the best chance possible, make sure you put in the time, effort, and resources necessary to properly spread the word. When customers feel prepared for change and have had some say in the process, they will be much more inclined to utilize your new feature, unleashing the possibilities of the innovation you have worked so hard to create.
Emilia is the VP of Customer Engagement at WalkMe, a real-time guidance platform. She is a certified Scrum master, PMP certified project manager, blogger and a frequent speaker at conferences. In the span of her career, Emilia has received awards for being a top client service manager and leader, including the 2015 Totango Customer Hero award. Emilia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia and is a Trans-global Executive MBA candidate at St. Mary's College of California. Emilia speaks fluent Italian and has lived and worked in Italy, Denmark, France, Canada, and the US.