Core conversions are very time consuming and require a lot of work. The central project team ensures a successful data conversion by spending their time focused on data quality, mapping, testing and training. Vendors and project managers help provide focus on data but often miss a key component of any conversion – communication. Communication with staff and customers is key to ensuring a successful conversion and should be planned and managed as part of the process.
Determine stakeholder groups and identify communication requirements
- External stakeholders – It is important to understand your customer base and identify how best to provide communications. Consumer and business customers have different information requirements based on the changes made to their products. Communication methods may vary based on customer type, traditional customers may require paper communications while paper-less customers will only pay attention to online messaging and email. Top tier customers may require more personal attention, such as a phone call or invitation to an event. Enlist your business and consumer relationship managers to help identify those customers.
- Internal stakeholders – We frequently worry about messaging to customers and forget to inform non-project staff about the conversion. This can lead to rumors, disgruntled employees and a lack of buy-in. Transparency about the conversion with a timeline, benefits and impact can create project cohesion.
Determine method and frequency of communications
- Approval and production of collateral can be a timely process. Communication planning begins early in the conversion process with collateral developed and approved. This will allow for the staff to focus on time sensitive mid-conversion processes with prepared collateral disturbed based on the communications timeline.
- Timing of distribution can be difficult to manage. Providing communications too early creates concern, increased call volume and forgetfulness while too late can create panic and confusion. Developing a timeline is essential to ensure that stakeholders have time to prepare but not forget. Additionally, content should be progressive.
- Based on stakeholder groups determine if you are going to communicate via mailing, statement stuffer, email, phone call, website banner/FAQ, etc.
Plan for ineffective communication
- Despite successful execution, some stakeholders will not receive and act on the communications. Expect and plan for increased call volume after the conversion. Consider a temporary hotline of project “champions” who can quickly answer conversion related questions for both internal and external stakeholders. Provide staff with scripts and an easy process to follow for consistent messaging
Developing a robust communication plan may seem costly and time consuming but neglecting to develop a formal communication strategy will be an even greater risk. Effective communication is essential to a successful conversion. To find out more about this or other ways that RSM can assist you with your business needs, contact RSM’s management consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.