One of our clients recently really bungled a product rollout.

They rushed to production without a soft launch period, made themselves the public face of the product, launched with a lot of fanfare, and when major day-1 gaps emerged, they absorbed the brunt of the criticism.

It wasn't a good look, and raised the question:

"How do we get members with poor first experience back to using the platform?"

It's a great question, and I think the answer is applicable beyond just what our teams experienced. I think it gets to the core of rolling out any new service or product.


What I've learned is that trust and transparency go hand in hand.

I've also learned that innovation and change in enterprise software and solutions is a messy process which almost never goes unequivocally right.

We all want to have a rollout with clear victories and only minor problems to overcome. But the higher the stakes and the more complicated the processes -- and healthcare technology is a perfect example of this -- the more things there are that could go wrong, the more incorrect assumptions people bring to the table (both users and vendors), and the more testing and calibration needs to happen.

Implicit -- perhaps often unsaid -- is that rolling out any sort of enterprise solution isn't going to be a perfect process from Day 1, and that we won't get 100% of things right.

That's there are staged rollouts, soft launches, with the most critical and knowledgeable populations encouraged  to provide feedback early and often. You must start small and iterate solutions for every obstacle encountered, every objection received, every assumption corrected.  Sometimes there is calibration needed in the language, the workflows, and even in the technology. Sometimes we learn that what were previously edge cases were actually core to the experience.

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But things will go wrong and people will be angry. Because enterprise software tends to affect how people work day-to-day, it attracts an inherently conservative, high-bar-to-pass-before-changing-anything type of crowd.

What I've seen is that when people are involved in crafting and guiding the solution and innovation, they're more likely to be accommodating and giving it a second try. When someone is involved in providing feedback and seeing it acted on, they're often willing to extend a second or third chance. Their perspective switches from one of dissatisfaction to one of collaboration, even sometimes enthusiasm to try again. People who start dissatisfied don't want your launch to fail (at least, most don't), but they do want to ensure that the product and service offerings that they access are accurately reflecting their needs and circumstances.

So perhaps the biggest weakness here is actually the biggest strength. Perhaps the the most effective way to get people with a poor first experience back to give your service another shot is to strongly acknowledge that negative experience and be clear about the feedback that was heard, what will be acted on, and what won't – and why.

I've found time and again that some of the biggest detractors can often be the biggest proponents if their concerns are heard and responded to. It is by the weight of their strong opinions that we've learned what's truly wrong, and if we go above and beyond for them to show how their input has made the platform better, then the level of service, followup, and transparency can begin to prove that we care and continue to be committed, and begin to build back that trust. I've seen this to be true in the enterprise world, I've seen this to be true in the consumer world, and I've seen this to be true across industries.

So that is my recommendation: to turn the weakness of experience into a broader strength. More than anything else, to recognize both publicly and privately what went right, what went wrong, and how we're taking those learnings and that feedback to continue building a better experience. And then to continue keeping the associates involved as collaborative partners in shaping this experience through their feedback and continued engagement.