How Yahoo! Dealt With A Big Change

ma_ph_1 An area of customer service that really interests me is how companies deal with really big changes. I wrote a post about this back in May and it is a post I find myself consistently sending to clients. What a big change is is of course relative, but companies of all sizes find themselves undergoing big changes all the time.

One I would like to highlight in particular is a recent big change from Yahoo. They decided to shut down Yahoo! Photos and instead send their users over to Flickr, a service they acquired in May 2006.

I found this great post on the 37signals blog about how Yahoo Photos managed the changeover process. They obviously put a lot of time and thought into the process. It is a big change and deserves a lot of attention.

It seems like Yahoo did a fair amount of work to ensure the process went smoothly:

  • They emailed the users with an informative message explaining the change, where they could go (besides Flickr), etc.
  • The company provides a lot of detailed information on how Yahoo will help you move your photos to Flickr or any of the other services they mention.
  • They setup another web site with a specific link (http://closing.photos.yahoo.com) just for the closing and moving processes.
  • If you are a customer who just wants his or her photos back, all you need to do is download the images you want (individually, unfortunately) or buy an archive CD (they reduced the price).
  • Yahoo spent a lot of time writing a lot of informative FAQs that explain everything you can imagine.

Let’s see which of my guidelines and suggestions Yahoo! followed with their big change:

  • Explain the benefits. They did this to some extent. They explain Flickr is a good service.
  • Pace yourself. They do the entire change at once (as in, not a staggered shutdown – it just turns off), but they do give customers plenty of time to do it.
  • Constantly update your customers. This isn’t really applicable to this type of big change.
  • Provide lots of service. I’ve heard customers that have had issues aren’t able to get in touch with Yahoo.
  • Have one on one help. Yahoo did not do this. Their reasons for not doing so is understandable, but they did not do it.
  • Follow up. I am not sure if they followed up (I’ve never used Yahoo! Photos). Have any Yahoo! Photos users gotten any follows up from them?

How do you think Yahoo! did with their change from Yahoo! Photos to Flickr? Where could they have improved?