I was lucky enough to speak with Janet Cunningham, Sprint’s Digital Messaging Manager, about how Sprint introduces new digital features and how they educate their uses on these new features.
Sprint, like many wireless providers, is constantly unveiling new features to help customers get the most from their provider. The difficulty of this task is educating the previous users and encouraging adoption among them. The old adage, “can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, is what Cunningham and her team tries to prove wrong with each release.
Below is a transcript of Cunningham’s insights into how Sprint markets and educates customers on new features.
What are the strategies and techniques you use when trying to introduce a new feature?
Depending on the size and complexity of the new feature the Sprint team will build out both a launch and communication plan for the new feature. As part of the project, the Digital Marketing teams plan and then execute internal and external tactics to make sure our customers, along with our supporting Sprint teams are aware of the change, understand its benefits, and have the answers to any questions or feedback anticipated. Any changes in functionality are tested by both technical and user acceptance teams and in cases of major site changes, usability testing is often conducted to inform and also anticipate design needs. With a major site change, the new experience or feature may be beta tested either internally only first or to set of external beta users (either a group that actively selects to be part of the trial or a % of users). After launch, performance is closely monitoring and communicated across the teams to ensure everything is working as expected.
Do you typically AB test different strategies when trying to highlight new features?
Yes, for major capability or offer launches the Digital team will often A/B lead messages to understand the most compelling features to highlight and the best way to drive engagement. Testing can often continue over several iterations to continually refine the message and positioning.
How heavily do you rely on email for educating users on a new feature?
Email and other addressable tactics (SMS and Sprint Zone Application Alerts) are key to keeping customers up to speed on new online features. Sprint has email programs and other communications customized to the audience by key factors such as their specific handset and how long they’ve been with Sprint and/or using that device.
Can you please detail the launch of a new feature and how you encouraged user-adoption?
New features are normally built and tested in pre-production environments where internal teams first run thorough review and test cases. Any issues are logged, prioritize, worked, and re-tested within the environment before launch. For major launches, beta testing will sometimes be set up in production to first test the capability live to a set of internal Sprint employees or a percentage of Sprint website visitors. A launch call occurs with launch to production and teams re-test the capabilities live on the website, working any issues that are found. Depending on the extent of the change, communications and rollout of the capability can either happen right away or teams may wait until after a period of time to make extra sure no issues are uncovered. After that point, the new capabilities are communicated broadly both internally and externally through tactics such as paid advertising, website banners or alerts, addressable tactics, social, and sometimes print and retail communications.
What are the common hurdles you face when introducing a new feature?
The primarily challenge of introducing new features is balancing speed to market with high quality. The Sprint Digital team focuses on moving as quickly as possible but also making sure that each new launch delivers the best customer experience. It’s also critical that other affected Sprint teams are equipped to support the launch and that customers are aware of the change and can get any questions answered if needed. The Sprint Digital team is continually evolving its technologies and processes to focus on high quality and also operational efficiency.
I’d like to personally thank Janet for her time and excellent insights into the inner workings of releasing a new feature. The typical person has no idea of the complexity and hardships of release a new feature and encouraging user-adoption.