Most launches don’t go perfectly the first time. Just ask Elon Musk.
This is true for most companies as they introduce new products and services. While their rollout efforts might not be classified as crash and burn, the initial results usually leave plenty of room for improvement. The best organizations recognize this and have a plan for how they will adjust.
This is the scenario in a recent Brand Transfer Study (BTS) we completed for a client in retail banking. The bank introduced a new suite of products early in 2020. They knew that employee buy-in would be key to its success, so prior to rollout they conducted a BTS to learn where the team saw pain points and opportunities.
Now the suite of products has been in market for more than a year. As predicted, there is room for improvement. But, rather than starting from scratch, the bank once again conducted a BTS so they could compare the before and after launch. The data revealed some key areas where the product had momentum and produced insights on the best actions to continue building employee confidence.
Better, but Not Great
Prior to the product launch, frontline teams sent a clear message to the leadership team that a new offering was needed. Their evaluation of the products before the new introduction showed them well behind the competition and struggling to meet the needs of an important segment of consumers.
After the product launch, the frontline team’s perception of the product jumped noticeably (approx. 20% improvement in rating). However, the lift was not as significant as leadership had hoped. Employees rated the product as average before, but after launch their rating was only slightly above average. The customer-facing teams felt better about what they had to offer, but were not convinced they had a best-in-class product to sell.
Why? Where was the miss?
The leadership team’s responses provided a likely answer. Leadership’s performance rating of their product dropped by 13% after a year in market. They felt worse about what they had to offer than when they launched. There are several factors causing this. For example, some product features had to be scrapped prior to launch, and some organizational issues made it tough to provide the same staffing they had hoped for.
Leadership felt like the product had missed the mark a bit. No wonder the frontline teams had a lukewarm response. With an upgrade, the product was still not where anyone thought it should be.
The good news is that frontline teams felt like their product was at least competitive in the marketplace now. Their ratings for competitors’ product offerings were right on par with their own. Any perceived improvements would push the bank past their competitors in this category in the eyes of their salespeople.
Our recommendation was for leadership to take a close look at their list of scheduled product enhancements and focus on the upgrades their staff will care most about. They have clear data that shows which features the frontline teams think are most valuable to customers, so prioritize the communications to staff accordingly. If the frontline teams are seeing regular upgrades to the things they see as valuable, their faith in the product and in leadership is going to grow. If the message is watered down with updates with low perceived value, the momentum can stall.
The good news for the bank is they can try this approach and measure it again in the future. By having a feedback loop with their frontline teams, they can make changes more quickly and keep building a story that stands out from the competition.