Tag Archives: communication

How not to be a Waitlist-ware

A few days back upon submitting my email for an interesting looking upcoming product’s waitlist, I had a feeling of deja-vu. I felt I have done this at least 5-7 times over the last few months but if I were to try I can’t recall even a single name out of all those products I signed up to be in the waitlist for.

One of the most recent products I signed up to try for.

Herein lies the problem and that’s what bugged me.

What’s the point of signing up for a waitlist if it’d take you forever to release your product or approve my request?

What’s worse, you’ll have to keep guessing what happened to your invite or the product you signed up for.

Did the startup shut up before releasing or were they just collecting email ids?

I guess we’ve all been there. Now, let’s try to think what’s an ideal way to approach this.

What would the user be interested in?

As a user, my main concerns in this context (with varying priority as time goes on) would be

  1. What is happening with my invite?
  2. What is happening with the product while I wait for my invite?
  3. Why should I still bother about your product ?

How could these concerns be handled?

Let’s divide this into two parts:

Invites are being released to users in waitlist – If uses on the waitlist have started getting invites for the product, you can share the details on invites being sent out (how many per day/week/month) and basis my waitlist rank, when should I expect to get an invite and if there’s something I can do to expedite this process.

Just to keep up the excitement, you could also add some reviews by users who’ve gotten access or any great PR/product reviews you are getting.

Invites haven’t started going out to users in the waitlist – This means, the product is not ready to be released to the waitlist yet, which means either you didn’t plan this properly or ran into unexpected delays.

Either ways, the odds of users losing interest on your product at this stage are really high (unless of course if you are building hey.com, or will launch a stellar product that people will be more than happy to get to use the product and nothing else would matter.

The first thing in this case that needs to happen is trying to get a handle on expected date on which you can release the invites. Depending on how far into the future, this date is, you can plan a cadence of communication. Communication plan for 1 month will be very different from one for 6 months.

Few things you can keep in mind while designing a communication plan for users in waitlist for delayed product release.

  1. Product Release Date and Communication Cadence – How often will you send the communication.
  2. Product Progress – Updates on how the product is shaping up. Details on this process (technical challenges or product decisions etc can resonate with users with appreciation for these things).
  3. User Involvement – If you are up for it, you can actually have deeper engagement with the waitlist by having them part of user research interviews or beta testing programs

Closing Thoughts:

  1. Start accepting waitlist when product is nearing the launch date.
  2. Whether you are rolling out the invites or not, keep updating users on waitlist regularly (waitlist updates or product progress).
  3. Give option to users to change the frequency of your updates or unsubscribe.
  4. If possible, engage with users and build deeper relationships with them.

The power of Communication

“Over communication is better than under communication”.
I heard this for the first time during my initial days with Fidelity and its something that has been with me since then. The thing with simple statements is that while they appear ridiculously simple and obvious they are really hard to implement/follow.

Communication of all sorts is very critical as it can make or break lots of situations and institutions. From boardrooms to bedrooms its a common observation that those who are high on C.Q (communication quotient) are better placed as compared to those who are bad or not good at it.Needless to say while communication is extremely important it is not the only constituent of progress and success.

From companies and organizations point of view communication is even more crucial because their the stakes are really high and its impact can be felt on a huge number of people/employees. Their are various aspects of communication like

1) Direction:
Flow of communication both internal and external can be in various directions namely bottom to top, top to bottom and horizontal. In most cases the stress is laid(if at all) on the top to bottom flow of communication and that too it in a “just listen/obey to it” sort of way, for ex: emails from founders, managers giving employees directions/instructions. But those who understand the importance of communication lay emphasis on bottom-up and horizontal communication as well because the 360 degree flow of communication can really do wonders, to name a few things, the management would be more aware of the needs/demands/expectations of the employees and a lot of feedback/innovation can come to the surface if this channel is properly established.

Speaking of web startups: Despite the fact that its utterly easy to communicate with their users by means of blogs etc most startups suck at it and communicate only as a last resort. Be it informing users about scheduled downtimes, sharing details of new features  or seeking feedback,  more often then not its not done. I think not only should they communicate via their blogs much more but also they should keep an eye or establish channels for incoming communication by their users(ex: blogs, microblogs, forums).

2) Frequency:
What do you prefer, getting newspapers daily or weekly ? Its that simple but then again following it isn’t.

Be it communication within big organizations or small teams or with your site/blog audience. The frequency and regularity of communication is also important. Important because there needs to some basic level of communication that needs to be attained before things start to change and something substantial comes out from the other side. Obviously it won’t make any sense if someone from management asks his employees about the things they’d want to change in the company and then comes back to the same question after an year and expect a genuine answer.

Speaking of web startups: One of the easiest things that can be done is to update their blogs as frequently as possible not only about the good things but also the bad ones. I hate it when while visiting a site i find its under scheduled maintenance for 1.5 hours but there isn’t even a small mention of it on their blog. Core thought being be proactive and inform the users before them finding out and coming to you.

3) Content
Content of communication is extremely important. In the sense that the content if explicit/comprehensive  it won’t leave any scope for confusions n illusions. There a lot of cases in which communication within the organization and outside isn’t really fruitful because it does not show the full/clear picture and thus limits the vision and perception of the intended audience about the thing/issue in question. Whenever in doubt whether a thing is good/big enough to be communicated, just do it, because it might be big/good or important for someone else.

Speaking of web startups
: My advice would be to share as many things as you can with your users. Users just love to hear and know more about the services/sites they like and use. Share more things big or small about your product, your company and if possible even a bit about yourself.