Customer Service Checklist: Launching a Product

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Many companies, especially startups, move very quickly. They’re always in the process of developing and launching new products, hiring new people, and so on and so forth. They stay very busy constantly and seem to never have enough time to do all that they need to do.

One of the things that these quickly moving companies usually don’t have enough time to do is properly launch products from a customer service perspective.  They get the product ready in terms of development, marketing, etc., but they never stop to tell customer service and the first time customer service hears about it is when customers start calling or emailing.

Needless to say, this isn’t the best way to do it. It creates a lot of confusion, is bad for morale, and upsets customers. Having a more formalized process that keeps customer service in mind is a much better way to handle product launches.

These are some things you’ll want to keep in mind before launching a product:

  1. Have customer service representatives (and their managers) been made aware of the product by product management? Are they familiar with the products, features, and how they work?
  2. Have they been certified on the product, or at least trained on it? This includes not only using the product, but supporting it as well.
  3. Has marketing given the customer service department a heads up about promotions, discounts, special pricing, and expected volume?
  4. Has engineering or product development briefed the customer service department on expected problems, known bugs, possible areas of concern, etc.?
  5. Are there tools in place that customer service representatives can use to support the product?
  6. Have knowledge bases and other documentation (internal and external) sites been updated / created as necessary?
  7. Has the corporate and/or product web site been updated as necessary?
  8. Have existing customers that might be interested in this product been made aware of its launch?

These eight things are just a start. There is obviously plenty more that should be done and what needs to be done varies from product-to-product and from company-to-company. If a checklist and a process exists, it’s far better than nothing. Creating a process lets companies work through it like it’s second nature. Product launches can be consistent and most importantly, they can go smoothly.

9 Responses to “Customer Service Checklist: Launching a Product”

  1. Diane Bassett said:

    Aug 06, 08 at 12:12 pm

    Excellent points. What we’re talking about here is the need for the project management process we use to develop and release a new product or service to expand the definition of “release” or “launch” to include the deliverables and action items you describe.

    It is immensely helpful for all areas of the company to have a least a rudimentary level of training in project management discipline, and for everyone to have a customer focus. No project manager responsible for a new service or product would ignore the need to include the customer support organizations if a customer focus were central to the company culture. Work on it!

    In addition to the customer support organization, you’d be shocked to learn how often the sales organizations (both direct and indirect channels) are almost ignored in the launch process. The need to educate and prep the sales channel before “public launch” is crucial.

    When companies are overly engineering-focused, they think the job is done when the code is ready to release, or when the price of a new service has been decided. People must support their project managers in helping to develop a thorough and customer-focused launch plan.

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Aug 06, 08 at 12:27 pm

    Diane,

    Thanks for your comment! You’re exactly right. A formal process is necessary. Companies that launch products haphazardly seem to ignore everyone that isn’t directly involved in the launch (whereas almost everyone should be involved). I couldn’t agree more with you when you say that a launch is more than a code release.

  3. Wilson said:

    Aug 06, 08 at 3:13 pm

    You are quite right on the formal process. The company i work for recently introduced a new loyalty card for its customers and guess what happened, the whole sales team was not made aware of benefits and special discounts to be offered to the customers. On the day of the launch the CEO confidently announced to the invited guests at the launch date that they can ask any questions related to this product `s benefits to any sales team member seated close to them!

  4. Lisa Hida said:

    Aug 06, 08 at 4:22 pm

    Really good stuff! If a company has a least one product launch under their belts, it’s always advisable to do a post-launch audit to figure out what went right and what can be improved on. And if you’re using your own company experiences, people can relate to what happened, versus it being a textbook excercise. We recently wrote an article on conducting a post-launch audit: “Product Launch Success: It’s all the Post-Launch Audit”. It can be accessed on our website at:

  5. Let Everyone in on the Launch | Five-id said:

    Aug 07, 08 at 3:09 am

    […] Sourced from Service Untitled […]

  6. raj said:

    Aug 07, 08 at 12:29 pm

    I really agree to the fact of formal process, which is imperative in todays world of product and services. Needless to quote it is either applicable for the product or services. Every where the formal process is important. And this makes true professional approach.formal process will also help us to remain vigilant and ensure success on the product launches.

  7. Soetan Olusegun said:

    Aug 09, 08 at 8:40 am

    Business need allot of explanation so due to this you need to made it clear to all your customer’s the real information on the new online business.

  8. Service Untitled said:

    Aug 11, 08 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the comments! All great points and you can never underestimate the value of a formal process that is actually used. A process on paper is worthless by itself, but when companies make use of it, it has a lot of value.

  9. Gaurav said:

    Jan 14, 10 at 9:29 am

    Hey, Thanks for the checklist. We are just launching a new membership service and are a startup. It speaks well to us and gives us a nice heads up.