Anyone who has been a part of a software project knows that one of the most important factors in a successful project relates to change management. After all, everyone loves change until it happens to them. While most people say they embrace change, their attitude may be what really changes when the rubber meets the road.
Launching a new self-service portal to your customers is no different. Customers who are used to a single channel of support, whether it be phone, email, etc… get comfortable with those mechanisms. Even if new channels of support would provide great benefit, it is difficult to get them to change their habits.
Helping customers and partners through this difficult challenge has been something we have done many times at CRM Vertex. Our hope is that this list of ideas can help you get your customers on board - which will benefit you - but more importantly, it will benefit them.
- Over-communicate! Prior to the launch of your self-service portal, communication is key. Set the stage with your customers weeks or, preferably, months in advance that this change is coming. They will be better prepared for the day when this change actually happens. Take advantage of all forms of communication to spread this message.
- Now that your portal is finally going live, 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 incentive, motivate your customers to use your portal. We have seen our customers put a name in a hat for every customer that has activated their portal account 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 most importantly, 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 continued availability of multiple channels for 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 using your portal.
- 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.
While there is no surefire set of tasks that will ensure a smooth rollout of any software, we hope that these ideas will help you smoothen the roll-out of your self-service portal. For more information on self-service portals and multi-channel support, visit us at
by CRM Vertex