You may have noticed that the format of my blog changed suddenly this week. It was a surprise to me too. I logged into my blog to check on stats and comments when I noticed a change to the format of the blog. Many custom items were missing, the layout was a bit different, the font had changed. Nothing too dramatic, but to be honest, I liked the format I had.
After hunting around a bit on WordPress, I found out that they had discontinued the format I was using, and provided a substitute. Unfortunately, they did not give any advanced warning, and, when they switched over, many of the custom items I had disappeared. It took me at least an hour to sort out all the changes and fix everything.
I don’t like being surprised. The way this transition was handled is a case study in poor communication with customers. Not only did I not get advance warning, I didn’t even get any conversation about the change and why it was made. It just happened. And then, in order to figure out what happened, I had to hunt around the WordPress website to find out. Since WordPress has my email address, they could have easily developed an email to all customers who were going to be affected by this change, sent an email with the rationale for the change, and when to expect it, along with a link to the new format.
It created work for me, but further, I was very happy with my format. Now I have a format that I don’t like as much. And I still don’t know why they discontinued the format I was previously using. I also feel less positive about WordPress.
Moral of the story? Customers don’t like change. If you plan a change, engage your customers. Help them understand why you are making this change, and what benefits will accrue to your customers. Do it early, do it often. Reach out to them proactively, don’t expect them to read your mind — in other words, don’t bury it on your website. Otherwise, you might find yourself losing customers.