Those who have been a part of software projects know that one of the single most important factors in successful software implementation is around change management. The saying goes that everyone loves change until it happens to them. This could not be truer! Although most people say they are open to change, their attitude may be what changes when the time comes. Launching a new self-service portal is no different. Customers who are used to a single channel of support, whether it be phone, email, carrier pigeon…they get comfortable with that support, and even if new channels of support would provide great benefit, it is difficult to get them to see the benefits right away. Helping customers and partners through this difficult challenge has been something we have done many times at CRM Vertex. Hopefully this list of ideas can help you get your customers on board – which will benefit you, but more importantly, it will benefit them.
- Prior to the launch of your self-service portal, communication is key. Set the stage with your customers weeks or even months in advance that this change is coming and they will be better prepared for the day when this change happens. Take advantage of all forms of communication to spread this message…except maybe carrier pigeon.
- Now that the day has come when this change will occur, motivate your customers with a contest. Everyone loves to win something. Whether it is a new Microsoft Surface, a big screen TV, a vacation package, or some other kind of incentive, you can motivate the customer with a contest. At CRM Vertex we have seen our customers put a name in the hat for everyone that has activated their portal by a certain date. You could up the stakes by putting out two dates and put their name in the hat twice if they activate by a certain date and once if they do it on a later date. Get creative and make it fun.
- Position the portal as a better option. You don’t want to diminish the customers who still prefer to pick up the phone and call you, but let them know that submitting items via the portal will get more eyes on the issue faster and could decrease the time to resolution.
- Plan to continue to support multiple channels of support. Don’t take away the option for phone support, or email support – at least not immediately. If you do plan to retire an existing support channel, do so over a period of time to smooth out the transition. For example, if you want to retire email based support, start by creating a case in Dynamics CRM when a support email is received and let the user know that you will be communicating via the portal for the remainder of that case. It allows them time to get used to logging and using your portal – no quitting cold turkey!
- Make sure your portal is easy to use and navigate. Consider doing a pilot roll out with a small subset of customers. Get their feedback and make them a part of the process. Always make sure the user experience is solid and will give your customers little to complain about.