Before you think about going live: Communicating with clients during platform changes

Kevin Palmstein, Senior Director of Product Marketing

Everyone puts clients first, or at least that’s what their websites proclaim. Everyone says they’re client-centric. Then why are so many clients completely blindsided when their promotional partners make a big platform change? Here at YA, we’re in the process of moving all our systems to a new proprietary technology backbone we’ve code-named “Compass,” because we will be using it as a tool to help us keep to “True North” as we predict, plan and execute with greater accuracy.

We’re about twelve months into the process, and plan to wrap things up at the end of this calendar year. Even from this halfway point in our journey, I have some serious rear-view mirror learnings to share with anyone contemplating a similarly robust and inclusive effort. Here are three key things to consider:

Step number one: Client opinions matter
Long before we wrote our first line of code for Compass, we engaged in some face-to-face dialogue with our clients. Where was our technology serving them? Where were we falling short? How could we become easier to work with? Their input was a key guiding factor in every step of our platform development.

Step number two: Heads up – necessary and appreciated
One of our guiding principles in this process has been the mindset to avoid abrupt shifts and instead to engage in evolutionary transformation whenever possible. We’re rolling out elements of Compass when they become available. And we give our clients lots of advance warning to let them know what’s going on. Even if functionally is remaining essentially the same, everyone appreciates knowing that a screen might look a little bit different the next time they log on.

Step number three: Keep it personal
As we continue this process, we’re not sending out blanket emails or announcements from the company. Instead, we’ve cascaded our messaging down to our clients’ day-to-day YA contacts, who share information with them in the way they know will be most appreciated. A 30,000-foot-guy doesn’t get a blow-by-blow description of how each element of a program will work, but an account management person might. We trust out team leaders to deliver messages that are crafted for their particular clients and situations.

How are things going? So far, so good. Our systems are gradually ramping up to meet our vision, and our clients have been immensely supportive. While the undertaking of Compass has been significant for us, taking these few simple steps to keep our clients in the loop has kept the operation of our business – and their businesses – as seamless as possible.

If you’d like to talk about how YA can help you acquire new customers, retain the ones you have and encourage everyone to spread the word, please
contact me to being the conversation.

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