11 Ways To Communicate Change Without Alienating Your Customers

In August 2017, MoviePass launched a new, low-priced subscription model. Within six months of the launch, it went from 20,000 to more than 2 million subscribers — and many of those newly acquired customersfound themselves on a roller coaster of changing policies, limited offerings and frustrating tech issues.

Businesses can learn some valuable customer service lessons from MoviePass, especially when it comes to communicating changes to the end-user experience. We asked a panel of Forbes Communications Council members to share their best tips for transparently and authentically announcing company or product changes with customers. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Be Proactive And Transparent

When a brand needs to ask their customers to accept some bad news like a reduction in their services, getting out ahead of it and being as fully transparent as possible is the best course of action. Being proactive allows the brand to better control the narrative and demonstrate that they are being honest with their customers, even when the message isn’t positive. – Tom WozniakOPTIZMO Technologies, LLC

2. Give Them Plenty Of Time To Adjust

Customers do not like change, especially to a product or service that they like and are accustomed to. In change management communications, I always recommend multiple touch points with customers over an extended timeline to give them ample time to get used to the fact that a change will occur. Plan for customer retention by listening/responding to concerns and offering better services post-change. – Liz SheetsTUNHEIM

3. Explain Why You’re Making The Change

There’s a fine line companies must walk between making excuses and explaining the change. What you absolutely don’t want to do is change terms or take something away without any explanation. Most customers will rally behind companies that admit they screwed up, demonstrate an understanding of how they got there and lay out a plan for how things will be different in the future. – Jennifer Jolls, The Connor Group


4. Get Customers Involved In The Ways They Feel Most Comfortable 

It is essential to involve your consumers in change and make them a part of your product’s community. Learn from their feedback and understand its value. Based on the consumer, you need to find out how and where they want communications to take place, whether by social media (and if so, which forums), emails, in-person meetings or events. Meet them where they want to be met. – Deborah FaroneFarone Advisors

5. Give Your Customers An Online Community To Voice Concerns

Create an online community — whether through a social channel or your website — where your teams can share real-time updates and directly address consumer concerns. Assure them that you are listening and fixing the problem, and don’t be afraid to apologize. However, if you involve consumers early in your innovation process (beta testers), you’ll have fewer issues down the road. – Alex GoryachevCisco

6. Offer Solutions Up Front

Any consumer-facing company should communicate thoroughly and often. By addressing the issues up front and coming up with relevant solutions to the problems at hand, consumers could have given the fledgling company time to recover and address critical issues. However, a business model that doesn’t account for surges in demand, consumer lack of use and technology needs is problematic. – MaryAnn Holder-BrowneOne Network Enterprises

7. Join The Online Conversation

Customer service should extend beyond an 800 helpline and address people online as well. It’s pretty easy to find forums and websites documenting the frustrations of thousands of MoviePass customers. There’s an entire subreddit dedicated to MoviePass faux pas that doesn’t seem to have any MoviePass representatives involved in the dialogue or addressing customers’ complaints. – Stephan Baldwinfranchisegator.com

8. Recognize And Reward Your Loyal Customers During Periods Of Change

Airlines have certainly had to communicate changes like this on a periodic basis, in altering redemption rates for frequent flyer programs. The best ones acknowledge the change and reward the loyalty, with a one-time bonus provided to long-time loyal members. For MoviePass, it would seem important to acknowledge those who helped build the following, in transitioning the economics to the new model. – Kirk ThompsonChief Outsiders

9. Create Engaging Video Content About The Changes

Connect with consumers and create vibrancy around upcoming changes by sharing short videos with your brand followers. Use videos to highlight your brand’s efforts to meet the changing needs of yourconsumers. Let your customers know that you care about their experience enough to make changes. This creates share-worthy moments for social media, your website and email communications. – Alysia GradneyVision Source

10. Give Personal Responses On Social Media

Nowadays when consumers are unhappy they often turn to social media. Follow hashtags and social posts, responding to each one as they come. Leave a message that actually addresses the comment made and not just a robotic reply. People often just want to be heard. If the reply helps them to feel heard they may calm down. At the same time, offer a way for them to be heard in a more constructive manner. – Ellicia RomoPeoples Mortgage Company

11. Anticipate Questions And Provide Easy-To-Find Answers

First, don’t let the client know about the changes from anyone else but you, the brand. When it comes from you, and not your competitor, the press, the rumor mill, etc., it’s better received and catches on more quickly. Anticipate the questions your clients may have about your changes and answer them clearly on an FAQ site. Create an easy form to submit questions and keep the FAQ site updated. – Heidi BaumgartEvent Source

This article was originally Seen on Forbes >> http://bit.ly/2Dg6fel

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