Picture this: You have just released your latest automotive software version and mobile application, so everybody will instantly download and start using it, right? Well, not exactly.
The case for change is difficult to make and even harder to implement. In order to be successful, you not only need the appropriate product enhancements, but an outstanding communication plan to drive awareness and break down the barrier for change.
If you build it, they will come. Maybe.
When the Nextup product team started developing our sales accountability platform, we knew that technology would be key for growth, scalability, speed to market and client adoption. With these things in mind, we partnered with Microsoft and utilized their Azure cloud services for development.
This technology provided us the means to rapidly produce new offerings and enhancements such as automated tracking of test drives and a “live” status of the showroom floor. But we were still left trying to figure out the best way to entice our clients to keep current when new releases and updates are available.
Our original product offering focused solely on the dealerships showroom. Due to strong adoption and penetration within the sales process, Nextup quickly expanded the product offering to include F&I, Delivery and Service. The expansion of the product line into other areas of the dealership has increased demand for product evolution; forcing us to "up our game" on development and communication in order to increase adoption of new software releases and mobile application versions at a faster pace.
Don't Sell Features. Sell Solutions.
This past year, Nextup delivered an enhanced dashboard and new mobile application to the automotive market which was met with great enthusiasm. Through the entire development process we made it imperative that we listened to the voice of the customer and develop a successful business case in order to deliver the appropriate new requested feature sets. In addition to listening to our customers, looking at innovation through a market solution focus rather than a technology driven one.
This allowed us to shift away from releases that focused on features and position them as satisfying needs driven by the market. This increased our chances significantly for market agreement. Creating this type of value increases the ability for better product business case development as well as a smoother delivery and transition for new and future releases and versions.
The emphasis on features in a release can also be diminished when your product enhancements are of the utmost quality. This means releases with minimal disruption due to problems, errors and associated implementation time will put and keep you in high regard with customers when it comes to managing your product lifecycle. Understanding your customer is fundamental in order to successfully preserve, modify and increase usage of your product.
By capturing and maintaining a complete knowledge base with customer, market and existing product feedback is crucial to further adoption and utilization of your product offering.
That being said, once you have the means of development and the conduit for feedback in place, customer notification and awareness becomes the next hurdle you must overcome or thoroughly understand. Just because you release a new version with better features does not mean people will use it or even like it.
Two things to always keep in mind.
First, don’t assume customers will read all your notifications. Secondly, customers do not like surprises. Especially if your product is process based. So be sure to provide notifications well in advance with several reminders at different intervals.
To ensure success, start by building a communication plan and defining “What you want to get out of the communication” followed up with “What you don’t want to get out of the communication”. Once you have formulated your plan details, choosing the appropriate communication method can make or break the success of your software or mobile release.
To ensure complete awareness use several channels to communicate to customers. Some examples of these include:
- In application change notification
- Press releases
- News Announcements (Corporate Website & Blogs)
- Social Media Announcements
- In application education tutorials
Remember, communicate utilizing the preferred method by your customers and it will help maintain the longevity of your product offerings and customer satisfaction.