Just yesterday we posted about how it’s essential to communicate clearly with users about changes, even if you see them as improvements.
MailChimp (who just spoke at UserConf) is doing an amazing job handling change at this very moment.
The email newsletter company is about to launch a major revamp of their product…changes that affect every single page. They’re all improvements, and it sounds like they’re amazing. But MailChimp knows better. People fear change, are creatures of habit, and don’t always see the bright side. So MailChimp’s gone out of their way to communicate about the changes.
Here’s a few of the things they’ve done right:
They’re giving customers a head’s up several weeks before they start launching anything. This can be hard for companies, especially when marketing and PR departments want to make a big splash with the launch. But this is exactly how you keep your customers calm. If they wake up one morning and the interface has changed without warning, they will be pissed, no matter how good the changes are.
Their blog post is LONG. Too long, some might say. I disagree. Some customers will skim it for the pertinent details, appreciative of the depth but finding it unnecessary to read it all. Fans may read every single word (twice, even), and if they do they get a wealth of information about what’s changing and why. People like to KNOW. There’s no reason to hold back.
Changes based on feedback
Sort of a no-brainer for user-centric companies, but their changes are all based on what they’ve heard from customers…a fact that they explain very clearly. This is a great move; you’d be surprised how often frustrated customers assume changes are based on the CEO’s whims or overly-controlling investors.
Aside from the peeks into the new interface in the initial blog post, MailChimp will be blogging for the next few weeks about the changes. When done thoroughly (sneak peeks just invite speculation) this is a great way to get their users familiar with the new interface (and why they changed) before the interface actually changes.
The new MailChimp will be an optional upgrade for 4 weeks, “so you have plenty of time to try it out when you’re not under deadline.” I actually might disagree with this last point – I think pulling off the band-aid quick results in fewer tears – but regardless, that’s some fantastic empathy at work.
Writing a whole blog series about your interface changes is no small task, but clearly MailChimp knows that a transition like this has to be handled delicately. I have no doubts that they’ll switch things over with very little backlash. Nice work, chimps!
Want more tips on successfully managing change? Check out our post on how to launch a new interface without upsetting your customers.