In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about how to help your customers through change.

When you’re building a product, it is common to make changes to it. This could be a UI change, a pricing change, a Logo change and so on. These changes will affect the customer so it is important to consider them before making any changes.

Tune in to this week’s episode to hear Steli and Hiten thoughts on how to properly make changes to your product, how to communicate those changes to your customers and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

00:23 Why this topic was chosen.

00:51 Why it’s important to consider the customer before making any changes to your product.

01:54 Examples of how not to make changes.

05:13 How even lowering the prices can create friction with your customers.

05:51 Why you have to think through why you’re doing the change.

06:52 How to be more thoughtful about communicating a change.

08:40 Why the changes you make should be relevant to the customer.

09:25 How to use FAQs to address customers concerns.

10:20 How to make changes the right way.

3 Key Points:

  • Put yourself in the shoes of your customers.
  • You have to think through why you’re making a change to your product.
  • Even lowering the prices will create friction with your customers.



Steli Efti: Hey, this is Steli Efti .



Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah. Today, we’re going to talk about a very important topic. The topic is how to help your customers through change. I think any kind of change is what we’re referring to. It could be a pricing change. It could be a branding logo change. It could be a UIUX change. It’s something that when you’re building a product, you tend to do, right? You tend to make changes.



Steli Efti: Yep.



Hiten Shah: And some of them you might think are more severe than others in terms of the impact on the customer. So I’m going to throw the first thing out on this one and just say that before you make the change, when you’re thinking about making the change, I would think first, “Is this good for the customer or not?” Because that totally would change the way that I would communicate it.



Steli Efti: Well, this is something that’s recurring a theme on our episodes, which is like take … Ask yourself, put yourself in the shoes of your customers and prospects and ask yourself, “Does this make sense? What questions do they have and is this good for me or not?” Which is a tough perspective to take because most companies, the way they think about things is very much from their own perspective, right? Which is the easiest one to have.



Hiten Shah: Yeah.



Steli Efti: Which goes, “We need more growth. What could be an issue with our current growth? Although, our branding sucks. Let’s just have a totally new name and new website and that’s going to help us with growth. So we just change everything and then ta-da we’re going to announce with some kind of PR or blog post, we have a new name now. We’re awesome. And we’re never going to ask ourselves the question, what about our existing customers? How will this make sense to them? Will this confuse any of them? What if they type in our old URL and they pop in a new one? Like, how do we communicate this with the greater world and what do they need? How do they feel? Is this really good for them or not?” Most companies will just never ask that question. That fundamental question that really changes everything that comes after that.



Hiten Shah: They won’t. They really won’t. So, yeah … Go ahead.



Steli Efti: No, I was just about to say … If you get into the habit of doing it, that’s going to be a massive competitive advantage because your competitors more likely than not, are not thinking about their customers as obsessively as they should or could. You do it, you’ll win. Now, let’s say … Let’s take … Well, there’s some easy examples, right? Let’s just say I lower my price. I want to challenge this, right? There might be an example where people think, “This is obviously good for my customers.” But let’s challenge that a little-bit. Then let’s go to the obvious bad ones for your customer. So let’s say we decided, Hiten , to lower our prices. That seems like a good idea, good news, right? Shouldn’t that be naturally something all of our customers will like and be excited about? So we send an email. We go, “Ta-Da! You’re all welcome. New prices are lowered. Now be excited about it.” Then, let’s say that some customers don’t like that and get upset about that. What could be a potential reason? I’ll throw one out and I’ll see what you can throw out and then let’s think about how to communicate even something you think is bulletproof, positive news. But change is always tough, right? So number one, you have to ask yourself, people bought your current product at your old prices. The pricing is really part of branding, not just the cost. They might have bought it because of the variety of reasons at that price. Maybe they just saw the value and if they can get it for a little-bit less, they’ll be happy. But maybe your sales rep or your marketing team did a really fantastic job on hard selling them on why it’s more expensive or why it’s priced exactly this way. It makes perfect sense for the company to be profitable and why the value it provides is so much higher. If you get some perspective from me that the price is too high and then you really sold me that the price is perfect, then two months later you tell me you’re lowering the price. Now, I’m confused. So I might be like, “Wait a second. I had like 10 conversations with the sales rep. He gave me all these reasons. Convinced me to change my mind and now two months later, it seems like I was right. This sucks. Why didn’t I get the better price two months ago? Did they already know and just lie to me?” You might think that this is an unreasonable way of thinking, but I guarantee you some customers will think this way. Even worse case, is the customer bought it exactly because your product was more expensive than some competitor, right? Maybe they were in a position where they felt they needed to buy a more stable solution. They looked at the market and your competitors and they felt like these products were too cheap. So they chose your product, because they felt like, “Oh finally a company that has an adult professional prices. Higher prices probably means better company. More professional company. More stable company.” So they bought because they felt better about buying a more expensive solution. So now you’re lowering the solution and that shakes up their confidence that like, “Well, is this still the right tool for us? Maybe this company’s focused on smaller customers and clients.” You’d be surprised. Even lowering the prices will create friction with your existing customers. They’re not going to all just love it, totally get it, and see your prices.



Hiten Shah: Oh yeah. So in a way, that situation, they’ve gotten used to the higher price.



Steli Efti: Yep.



Hiten Shah: For whatever reason. Right? So the reason I’ll give is a little simpler. Which is like, the reaction could be, “Oh, are you going out of business?” Will you go out of business if you do this? Right? Because if I really value your service and I’m paying a certain price and I feel like I’m paying a fair price, then you’re lowering it, I might think something’s wrong.



Steli Efti: Yeah. “Are you guys in trouble?”



Hiten Shah: Because you’re doing something that’s not good for you.



Steli Efti: Yeah, yeah.



Hiten Shah: When you want to explain the change, you have to think through, “Why are we doing the change?” Honestly, what’s in it for the customer. What I like to do about change and this is way too crazy sometimes, but it’s totally worth it, is I actually would write down an FAQ. Not for the customer yet, but an FAQ or hypothetical questions that I think a customer might ask and I make sure I have answers. In doing that, you can discover what the exact story and framing and messaging can be. So what are customers going to ask you if you tell them you’re going to do this in the most basic straightforward way possible? So if you just had a subject line to use and off of that subject, you come up with questions, what would it be? In this case, it would be like we’re lowering our prices for you. Or the cost of our service is lower from now on. Or something like that. What’s the subject? What’s the title? And then from there think through what kind of questions the customer might have and write down all the questions and answer them. Then usually you’ll be able to find your story in that. This goes for UX changes, pricing changes, personnel changes. It can go for any kind of change. Here’s what you’re then doing. It’s like your hack, right? It’s your way of getting in the customer’s head. You might be wrong about the questions, but that doesn’t matter. And by answering the questions, you’ll find the story. You’ll find the benefit for the customer and the way to frame it for them. Instead of framing it for you. I see so much of this. Today, I got an email from a company. They have four or five different changes that they mentioned in their product and it’s all positive stuff. But you know how they started in the beginning? We’re growing really fast. Here’s five open roles.



Steli Efti: Interesting.



Hiten Shah: And then it’s like, “Check out all the cool stuff we do. You’ll love it.” I respect the company. They are growing fast, but I’m not really sure how I feel about that email. That’s positive change. I should be super happy that you made these feature changes, right? I should be excited. Instead, you’re telling me how you’re growing so fast and these are five open roles in your company and then you’re telling me all the things you’ve done for me. What do I care about your growing fast or your five open roles? What’s in it for me? Nothing. Then you tell me about your changes. Yeah, you know, to their credit they did talk about how they’re growing fast and they’re improving the product. But that was very little and then they decided to tell me all their open roles. I don’t know how I feel, right? To me, it’s like you didn’t answer any of the questions for me that you would have if you had this question thing. And none of the questions would have been, “Oh, can I work there?” Or, “Oh, how many open roles do you have?” Or “Oh, are you growing fast?” The changes you made should imply the benefit that I have from you. It should tell me exactly what I’m getting from you. And if you want to do a P.S. At the end and say, “Hey, we’re growing really fast. We have a bunch of open roles.” I bet they would have gotten more play on what they wanted if they did it like that.



Steli Efti: I love it. Such good advice. This is such an important topic, but I want to maybe fire through a few more quick questions to give a few tips before we wrap up the episode. So we already, I think, touched on three core things. Number one, if you change anything, change is hard. So when you change things no matter if they’re good or they’re bad, if you change anything that impacts your customers or prospects. It’s probably going to create some friction so you have to anticipate that and put yourself in the shoes of your customers or prospects and address that. I love the FAQ tool as a way for you to try to emphasize and ask yourself what kind of concerns and questions will people have and try to address them. I mean, obviously, people could … Once they’ve done that. They could reach out to a handful of customers or prospects and talk through some of these changes to see what kind of reaction or instant responses or questions they’ll have if they have one-on-one conversations with some of them. There’s two more things that I want to quickly touch on or ask to touch on. One, is this question that I’ve heard which is it better to group all changes at once or is it better to spread them out over time? So let’s say a company wants to change their price, change their brand, and their UIUX of their product. Should they do all three big changes at once? Is that better for the customers and better for the company or should they spread them out? So they first announce a price change then a few months later they announce the new brand, then a few months later they introduce the new UIUX, right? The change is hard. So should you bundle it so people have to go through all of the change at once or should you spread it? I’m just curious to hear your preview on this.



Hiten Shah: What’s the most important change? And what’s the one that the customer’s going to be most happy about? That’s the way I look at this. When you have multiple changes and you’re debating what to do and how to announce them, I think that, that’s what comes to mind. What’s in it for them? I think the thing that people keep thinking about is they think about themselves and they’re thinking about, “Oh, we did all this awesome stuff. Wait, wait. Hold on.” One, is it awesome to your customer? Are they going to think it’s awesome? Then two, why do they care? Even if it is awesome to them. Our emphasis is so much on the stuff we’re doing. This is one big problem with companies in general in terms of how they think about their customer. It’s even more important than ever because there’s so many companies out there that customers are using. That people in general are using. They’re thinking so much … We are inside our companies. We know how everything’s … We know everything that’s happening. It’s so hard to have an outside perspective and think about the people on the outside. Because our customers are on the outside of the company. They are working with our company. They are using the products we build, hopefully. They are talking to our customer support. They are talking to sales. They are outside our company. And so this idea that we have a bunch of stuff we want to share. How do we decide? It’s like, what’s going to make the customer feel like you’re awesome to them? Right? Not that you’re awesome to yourself.



Steli Efti: Yeah.



Hiten Shah: I think that’s my reaction, right?



Steli Efti: Sweet. I love it. I think that there’s a ton of good stuff in here. Just remember, change is hard for people. So when you change things, even if you think they’re awesome, think about your customers and prospects first. Make sure you communicate well to them. Make sure that they understand what’s going on and they feel good about it. Don’t just announce these changes to the world expecting everybody will always love everything you do. And intrinsically immediately understand why you’re doing this and how it benefits them. I think we all can do a better job in helping our customers through change. All right, that’s it for us for this episode.



Hiten Shah: See ya.