Yesterday, Susan blogged about James who asked about what types of email to send to a client’s employees to get them excited about an upcoming install. I started to post a comment on her blog, but decided it warranted a post of its own.
Whoa James . . . back up the truck and take a look at where you’re going . . .
First – scrap the idea about email. Call me crazy, but as far as I’m concerned email is not – I repeat NOT – a relationship tool for the smallbiz space. Not only is it too impersonal compared to a phone call or face-to-face encounter, but with spam and increasing amounts of legitimate messages, email is losing some value in the users’ eyes.
Second – what is your motivation for wanting users to be excited about the install? I would guess that the underlying thoughts here would be to make the overall transition go as smooth as possible. So how can you go about this?
When engaging users prior to the install, think PERSONAL CONTACT! Engage as many users as possible face-to-face. Whatever you do – don’t try to sell them on the install – the project has already been bought. Work on understanding what are the most important aspects of each users’ computing experience? What applications dto they depend on daily? What are they looking forward to with the migration? What are they worried about with the migration? The idea here is simple – engage the user, show genuine concern for their issues and concerns. You’ll be able to put together a better plan-of-attack for the installation so that the greatest number of user issues & concerns are addressed up front, which will allow for a smooth transition for all. Besides aiding the migration itself, you can’t discount the relationship-building aspect of engaging the users. The ultimate goal is to have your users feel comfortable enough to approach you with any questions and/or issues they may have at any time, and to use your technology expertise to truly help the client.
Speaking of helping the client – I cannot overstate how important I think it is to take the effort to learn the client’s business – how they work, the information they depend on and the places that could use improvement. A network upgrade shouldn’t just be putting in new hardware & software – it should be part of an overall business upgrade that looks at all aspects of their business needs, determines what points can be addressed with technology and what processes can be streamlined. One point that I think is often overlooked is how much of this discovery process should happen before the migration. For most of us in the smallbiz space, SBS is going to be the solution for an overwhelming majority of our clients – because of just how flexible it is and how extensive its feature set is. However, I think this has the potential for us to fall into the trap of offering the same solution to each client. While most of our installs will be centered around SBS, that doesn’t mean that each solution can’t be unique for the individual customer’s needs. The whole process of getting to know the customer’s needs and their users’ concerns also gives you a roadmap for training – what features and functionality to focus on that will benefit the customer the most. (And yes – extensive training on Outlook is always a hit . . . shared calendars / contacts / tasks / etc, recovering deleted items, customizing views, rules, etc. etc. etc. )
So, that’s my view – forget email as an effective engagement tool and never underestimate the value/benefit of personal contact and a handshake.