You’ve spent months pouring your heart and soul into the development of a product or service offering that you’re sure will change the world… or, at least, the industry and customers you serve. Perhaps you’re asking yourself, “Now what?” With all the noise in the services ecosystem, it takes more than a great product to make waves. Thoughtful planning and strategy is required for a successful launch.
Here are four common pitfalls to avoid when rolling out a new service offering:
Making False Assumptions
Assumption #1: The Product is Perfect
When it comes to rolling out a new service offering, assumptions can be your worst enemy. To combat this, define a process that evaluates your expectations to achieve better results. Regardless of the initial design, customer feedback and user experience could change the final service offering.
Assumption #2: The Whole Team is On the Same Page
It is easy to assume that your team is clear with deliverables, expectations, and specific details surrounding a product launch, but this is one of the hardest things to achieve. To avoid delay of the product release, replace generic requests like, “I need it soon” with something more specific like, “I need it by 8/1/17.” Be specific and clear and regularly check in with each member of the team to ensure you are all on the same page.
Assumption #3: Your Job’s Over After Launch
In reality, you’re just getting started. Every facet of your team is counting on you to guide them towards a better service and customer experience. Whether it’s setting up best practices for troubleshooting, creating training collateral for customers, or gathering strategic marketing materials, a successful product rollout is an endurance game, not a sprint.
Foregoing Transparency During Beta
Whether you decide to release a generally available product or test through beta, make sure this distinction is crystal clear to your customers. Without transparency, early adopters can get frustrated when working through the inevitable kinks of a less-than-fully-functional product. Our recommendation? Be bold and brave by spreading the word that you’re releasing a beta and that you’re open to feedback, and provide people with your future development roadmap.
If you’re having trouble finding people to participate in a beta, you may need to provide incentive offerings. Typically, your biggest advocates will be excited that you’re trying something new and happily volunteer. Plus, being open with clients about your new release can increase overall customer engagement and transparency. A win-win. Here are a few additional benefits of beta testing:
- Gives your team the chance to make user-led modifications to existing functionality.
- Helps gather ideas for future enhancements.
- Lets you resolve any bugs or performance issues that would otherwise delay a successful launch.
- Starts spreading the word about your new offering before general availability.
Avoiding Agility Post Launch
Great ideas and technology evolve over time, and customer testing and/or market research can only go so far. Your product may very well function differently once it’s released into the real world. Knowing this going in can help you be prepared to stay agile and flexible post launch. Rather than focusing all of your budget on the rollout itself, be sure to allocate some of your resources to post-launch updates.
Working in Silos
If there’s one piece of advice we would love to impart on our readers today, it would be to avoid building and launching any product or service in a silo. In today’s connected world, there’s no need. Whether it’s from customers, support, the c-suite, or your service community, aim to receive as much feedback as you can while remaining agile to support a better overall launch plan. If you’re solely relying on your development team, engineers, or IT experts for feedback, you’re missing a major opportunity to build a more comprehensive and thoughtful product.
Rev.io uses agile methodology as a framework for all of our internal projects. One of the key components? Agile retrospective. This refers to regular reflection on what’s working, what’s not working, and opportunities for improvement. Most importantly, it’s about adjusting your behavior based on those outcomes. By embracing change, your team can become more effective in all areas of work. If you can get comfortable applying lessons learned from previous projects, you’ll be well on your way to a successful rollout.
Final words of wisdom…
Most importantly, as you’re developing a new offering and preparing for a product rollout, always keep your end users in mind. Embrace the experience you’re about to ask your customers to go through, and engage them through every step of the process.