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Do Customer Announcements for Minor Updates Help or Hurt Retention?

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How much customer communication is too much? Here’s the answer.

More than once, I’ve been sitting in a meeting, and we get to talking about an upcoming feature or product update.

(Exciting, I know… but stay with me here.)

And more than once, when the topic of letting our customers know about the update came up, someone challenged the idea with “but that’s such a minor thing, do we really need to make an announcement?”

Or, “but if we tell people about the bug fix, then other customers who weren’t affected by it will know that the product is imperfect.”

Both are totally reasonable arguments.

But they’re both completely outweighed by the tremendous loyalty and retention benefits of telling your customers as much as possible.

Today, I’ll share the reasons why you should share minor product updates with your customers, along with the right way to do it so that you don’t annoy them with too many emails.

3 Reasons to Share Minor Product Updates With Your Customers

1) It Shows Your Customers That You’re Working on Things

As the saying goes, “if a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s around to hear it, did it even make a sound?”

Well, replace “tree falls” with “feature gets built”, and you’ll see where I’m going with this.

You and your team are working hard every single day in the trenches to make your product or service better for your customers.

But your customers aren’t sitting there next to you, and when updates are few and far between, it can be easy for them to assume that you’re not actually up to much.

This is especially true when you’re working on bigger features and updates which take longer to develop, so it might be weeks or months before you have something to announce.

In those periods, it’s especially important to talk about those minor updates and fixes that you’re pushing, so that your customers aren’t left out in the cold.

2) It Shows That You’re Human, Honest and Transparent

“But we don’t want customers to know that we had issues to fix.”

Okay, I hope you’re sitting down, because this is going to shock you: your customers already know that you’re not perfect.

No business is.

All products have bugs, even the best ones, and as a customer, would you rather do business with a company that’s honest about this and is constantly working hard to fix and improve, or a business that pretends that there’s nothing wrong?

Survey after survey shows that customers would rather feel like they’re doing business with people rather than businesses, and that’s why small businesses have such a competitive advantage when it comes to delivering a great customer experience.

No matter where they are in the customer lifecycle⁠—whether they’ve just decided to do business with you or have already been with you for years⁠—show your customers that you’re human, and that you’re not afraid of showing it.

3) It Gives the Customer a Voice

Updating isn’t a one-way street.

Every single piece of communication is an opportunity for the customer to respond and voice their feedback, appreciation, displeasure or whatever reaction they’re feeling at the moment.

That’s a golden opportunity for any business.

In a world where for every customer who complains, there are 26 who stay silent, we should be taking every chance that we can get to elicit more feedback.

Equally important is the symbolism behind eliciting that feedback: “we want to hear what you think.”

“But I don’t want to annoy my customers with too many emails!”

You don’t have to.

In fact, you shouldn’t be emailing every customer every time you have something to report.

There are more ways to share the news of a product update than via your customers’ inbox.

At Groove, we use four online channels:

In terms of being “disruptive” to our customers’ day, we see these four channels in a hierarchy.

Email is the most disruptive, as we’re lobbing an announcement into a customer’s most personal turf: their inbox.

In-App Notifications are less disruptive, as we’re only making the announcement when the customer logs in—and is already thinking about—Groove.

Social updates are even less disruptive, as they’re only seen by those customers who have opted in to see our announcements.

And blog posts are the least disruptive of all, as only a small percentage of our power users subscribe to be notified of every update. Blog posts are also really helpful to support the other channels, as linking to a blog post helps us keep our other announcements a lot shorter.

To help decide where a product announcement should go, consider these three tiers:

Your tiers and channels may look slightly different, but use this as a starting point for your own customer communications plan.

One final tip about not over-communicating: time these announcements with some sensitivity to your other communications.

For example, we send blog posts out via email on Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays. Many of our customers are subscribed to these lists, and so to protect their inboxes, we never send non-urgent customer emails on those days. If you’re an ecommerce business and send sale emails every Monday, then send your updates on a different day.

Little Things Matter

Next time you’re debating whether to tell your customers about the new minor feature you just built, or the bug fix you just made, I hope that you’ll do it.

It’ll show your customers that you’re working hard to keep their business, that they’re dealing with humans (and not faceless companies), and that you care about what they think.

And if you do it right, you won’t annoy them. Instead, your minor updates will be a constant reminder of just how much they matter to you, reducing churn and making your loyal customers even more loyal.

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About the Author

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove. He’s focused on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers.

Read his latest posts or follow him on Twitter

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