How do you communicate product updates to your companies front-line teams?

I want to learn how other PMs communicate product updates (feature changes, tests, etc) to their front-line teams (Customer Success & Sales). We have a team at our company dedicated to being the liaison between Product/Eng & those teams, who send out a weekly newsletter of sorts… however, we still receive tons of questions/feedback from our Customer Success & Sales teams who seem completely unaware of what changes we’re making.

B2B company with a couple hundred customer facing folks and several distinct products.

  • We have internal wiki pages to organize release notes

  • Post previews of the release on slack

  • Have a monthly internal walkthrough

  • For more technical teams we have a more focused technical walk through

  • We update the user community

  • We update our idea tracking system if the feature was shipped…

And STILL some people say they don’t know what came out. It’s unfortunate but true.

I’ve seen it done in a couple of ways in a fortune50 bank.

Multiple locations, 1000s of staff and teams. Multiple product lines.

Each team (area) within front line has a digital ‘advocate’ who delivers the communication, which is easily digestible and ahead of product launches (weekly/monthly). The communications team creates the content as part of business readiness, with further details which is easily accessible.

Other teams such as wider product, change, production support, along with other stakeholders get a 1 HR demo walk through for items within a release.

The advocates get pre released communications (deck and recording) and have a closed forum similar to slack or teams channel or forum to engage with product owners, Change teams responsible for the delivery.

Ps. Frontline teams don’t have time to read newsletters unless someone delivers it to them. You can validate that by doing a random sample spot check from the content.

I believe the material sales team would need will be more focused towards data sheet, product presentation (external facing), competitive analysis. This will assist sales in their efforts to sell the new version of the product.

For care, there are a few parts:

  1. I’d prepare a presentation that highlights changes to existing features and introduce new features. I’d also record it, so it can be easily shared and viewed offline. Do this much before the release goes out.
  2. Integration with care tools, so that when a customer using the new feature calls in or contacts using chatbot etc., care knows how to respond and also be able to tag issues related to the new features. This has to be built in as part of the go-to-market process. Otherwise, they’ll be caught off guard.
  3. Involve care and sales early on in the development cycle and demonstrate the features. This will get them involved and they will ask questions about how the new features will impact their world

Not a PM… I have managed front line teams. Our operations team coordinated with product engineering about upcoming releases… timelines, new features, fixes, etc. If it’s a pretty significant release, I would cherry pick which items would likely generate questions. Then we asked the product engineering team to join our weekly team meeting to present about those topics, and do Q&A.

Along with each release of features/updates, there’s an accompanying Confluence page with more details about what/why these were added/changed, related links to bug tickets, and product owners for each feature/component. This helps later on if there are more questions.

I think the key is partnering with the front line teams, and have a meeting/webinar far in advance. In the past, our engineering team would push out a release without really telling anyone what’s in it. Basically, read the release notes and figure it out yourself. Release notes and newsletters aren’t effective. Nobody reads them. Slack channels are just as ineffective.

I know most people don’t like meetings/trainings, but really this is the better way to capture someone’s attention and get them involved in the release. The real time Q&A cuts down on the hundreds of duplicate questions you might receive when just sending out a plain newsletter. All of these meetings are recorded, so that people in other times zones can watch at their convenience.

I hope this helps.

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