Editor’s Note: Melissa Kandel is the CEO and founder of little word studio, a creative marketing agency based in Southern California. Her company is trusted by brands large and small to craft stories about who they are and why they matter. Kandel is a third-generation entrepreneur. Her company works with real estate and tech startups, as well as fitness, food, wine, spirits and the entertainment industries. She’s also a member of Rebecca Minkoff’s Female Founder Collective and contributes articles to Forbes as a member of the Forbes Communications Council. Here, Melissa Kandel shares her process for communicating a service change that impacts real estate brokerage firms and real estate agents.
I work with a lot of clients in the tech space, but also a lot of high-growth startups where they are constantly updating their dashboards and platforms to help improve user experience. I recently went through a service upgrade with a client that is involved in digital earnest money. This service allows for the simple and secure transfer of money in a real estate transaction. My client updated how users can register for its service. Previously, real estate brokerages would register their agents for the service. But with the change, real estate agents can actually self register, allowing any licensed real estate agent to register and make payment requests in the closed network.
This change is something that we need to not only communicate to the users and potential users, but also to the admins who were managing the roster of agents using the service.
The first thing we needed to do when communicating this change was to identify what the change was in a clear and effective way. This involved making sure all internal team members understood what was happening and when it was happening.
If you are communicating a change with confidence, but your whole team doesn’t fully understand it or understands it in different ways, then you are going to have a problem. I think the success of any communication plan hinges on everything being in alignment internally before you then send a message out externally.
The second step was to identify who exactly needed to be contacted about the change and also, on our end, understanding how this change would affect them. From my team’s side, we called current clients and let them know that this is a change that would be happening, and we asked them for feedback to incorporate in the plan. This helped to make users of the service feel involved in the change.
The next step we took was to create a communications plan, ensuring that our messaging was aligned across all platforms. We made sure that the language we were using was the same on the website and in email. So much of execution is making sure you have all the pieces in place before you execute.
But once you send out your communications, it doesn’t end there. You still need to monitor the communications with different departments. I am constantly in contact with sales and support teams to really make sure that the messaging is being received the way we want it to be received. And if it’s not, how can we iterate and revive that communication based on the feedback and questions that we are getting?
—As told to Michael Tomko
Michael Tomko is a freelance writer.