5 things Hotmail forgot about change management strategy

I opened my Hotmail account yesterday morning and discovered they had switched to Outlook. It wouldn’t have been a problem except I was unable to open any of the emails that were there.

Change ahead

Hotmail forgot most of the basics of a change management strategy.

They forgot what people fear.
People fear two things: (1) Isolation and (2) loss of control. When my email wouldn’t open I was “isolated” – I was unable to “talk” to the people I wanted. I had lost “control” of my email. That’s the first thing you learn in a change management implementation – and it is why people get so irrational about it. I may even have been irrational for a moment….

They forgot this is a world of choices.
Everything today is about choices. We customize the blogs we read, the music we download, and the food we eat (“Have it your way” at Burger King”). Hotmail took away my ability to choose. They did it in the slimiest way. They offered a choice, and then took the choice away. I tried converting Hotmail to Outlook a couple of months ago. I hated the look of it, so I went to “Settings” and converted back. Now they’ve taken away the button that allows that. There goes my ability to choose.

They forgot that it’s always best to under-promise and over-deliver.
They promised “free, modern email service”. Their email (which I couldn’t open for a full 24 hours) said it would help “… keep you in control of your private data”. While I didn’t expect that it would pick up my dry cleaning and make me my favorite breakfast, I did expect that I could at least open it. If you can’t deliver the “free, modern” email you promised, I want the old email back.

They forgot that people are always down on what they’re not up on.
They missed a HUGE opportunity to use strategic communications. And for the record (if you’re listening, Hotmail, this nugget is worth millions and I’m giving it to you for free), you have to say something SEVEN times before people actually hear it. That is not seven email blasts. It is an email blast, followed by a press release, bolstered by an appearance by an actual human being, reinforced by…. I think you get the idea.

They forgot to follow through.
I like(d) Hotmail. Really. So I went to their “Feedback” button and told them my issue. Same thing with the “Help” button. So far its over 24 hours and I haven’t heard anything back from them. Not even an acknowledgement that they received my emails. That’s just poor communication. Period.

If you’ve been through a successful change management initiative, I’d like to hear the advice you would give the Hotmail folks. If you’ve been through a mishandled change management initiative, I’d like to know if you’ve experienced something similar.

You can reach me at my reliable email address: dr alan cole at gmail dot com

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