Over lunch at recent conference, Eric Clarke, president of Orion Advisor Services, and I were discussing the major shortfalls of the federal government's HealthCare.gov rollout. Putting our political proclivities aside, it is fair to say that the release made Windows NT seem like pure magic.
Log-in problems, freezes and incorrect data communicated to insurance companies were among the hundreds of problems plaguing the site, some of which still stand to be corrected. And you thought getting aggregate investment account data was difficult!
Eric thought it would be great to convey to advisers what can be learned from this “steaming heap of a disappointment” to make sure it doesn't happen in our own firms. As your firm implements new technology, Eric detailed five steps that can set you up for success.
1. LIKE THE SCOUTS SAY, "BE PREPARED"
One of the largest variables in the breakdown was the lack of communication. When you introduce a new part to your machine, make sure that machine is well oiled.
Whether you're launching a new site or simply sending out an online invite, make sure your i's are dotted and t's are crossed. If there's any doubt that you may have major glitches, but a delay for further testing means it won't be launched by the deadline — that's OK. It's better to delay and get it perfected than take a gamble and lose clientele.
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Clients don't want to sift through a bunch of clicking, and guess what, no one reads the manual. When introducing new technology to clients, especially to those who still prefer a rotary dial, they tend to freak. Communicate your message clearly and give them examples of how efficient their life will be as they continue doing business with you.
3. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
All that hard work you put into preparation, check in on it and continuously manage the project. Build in some room in your communication timelines for bug resolution and to take advantage of some new ideas that will spawn during the development process. Undersell, overdeliver.
4. PHASE IN THE ROLLOUT
A slow rollout is best. If you're planning to launch a large initiative, try to do so in smaller portions so you can test and address client comments and issues along the way. Get their feedback, act on it, then move to the next piece.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR PEANUT GALLERY
Providing the highest levels of client service is your No. 1 priority, so listen to what they're saying about your new technology — because you know they're going to want to tell you. Subsequently, making a suggested change can send feelings of trust through the roof. Success boils down to finding a way to make your clients happy during a rollout.
We'd love to read about your effective launches of new technology, what's worked and what hasn't so we can all learn from each other — or in this case, from the government.
Alex Murguía is a managing principal at McLean Asset Management and chief executive of inStream Solutions.