Monday, August 08, 2016

What's Wrong with the IBM Connections.Cloud Welcome Message (and what IBM Needs to do to fix it)

One of the interesting things about being in IT is that you're responsible for hundreds of "automated" messages each day but... as an IT person, who was already set up on the system from day one, you never actually get to see them - at least, not until someone complains.

One of the things we do at work is provide an area on IBM Connections.Cloud for parties external to our own organisation to collaborate. The collaboration in this space is with some pretty important people. 

Recently we had our "communications" staff member express unhappiness about the IBM Connections welcome message which went to the CEO of a large institution.

I've been sitting on it for a while wondering how to explain this to IBM but today I read a great article on welcome messages.  I figured that blogging might be the best way to explain the problem.

The Message

So, without further ado, here is the message (which apart from 5 words) is entirely created by IBM. See if you can spot the issues. Remember: This was sent on our behalf by IBM to the CEO of another company....


What's Wrong?

....and here's what's wrong with it....

  • Hi: This is a bit overly friendly for a CEO don't you think?  (Dear is more appropriate)

  • First and Last Name: This is just wrong. I think that if you were sending an email to Ginni Rometty at IBM, you'd either address it as "Dear Ms Rometty" or "Dear Ginni" - certainly not "Hi Ginni Rometty"

  • Be a Guest in IBM Connections Cloud! If you assume that my company, for example ABC Finances Incorporated is inviting someone from a fellow Financial Institution to connect, then it makes absolutely no sense at all to start talking about IBM Connections.  That would be like sending a quote for a building project to someone and then talking about Adobe's PDF cloud because your quote is a PDF file. It's irrelevant. 

  • Admin: This is technically one of our words... because we've used the "Admin" user to do the invitations. There's a good reason for this. If you want to be able to centrally track how many users have responded to your invitation, you need to use a single user for the invites. Of course, our invited users don't know anyone called "Admin".  To them, it just sounds like spam. 

  • No Obligation to buy: This is stunning. It's basically a sales pitch in the middle of the "welcome email".  If your clients have managed to read this far through their welcome letter, they'll be abandoning in droves now. Especially if they're CEO material. 

  • IBM Connections Cloud (Advert): While it's informative, it's still an advert. It doesn't belong in the Welcome Message. You'd be better off having this as an animated (or otherwise exciting looking link) available on the Connections site as the user completes their registration...
    eg: "Learn more about connections!"

  • Finally, we Apologise: This is an amazing paragraph.  There's absolutely nothing right with it at all. You have to wonder whether this is a product of the Watson tone analyser.  Essentially this paragraph says it all.
    .
    Finally = Whew, we're going to stop talking soon.
    We apologise if you received this email by mistake = What it says...
    This email was generated automatically. = It's not our fault, blame the robot instead.
    Do not reply = Don't bother emailing, we're not listening. 

  • If you have questions: This bit is pretty amazing too.  Essentially it says to contact your own company's helpdesk. So... in my example, even though the email was sent by ABC Finances Incorporated, the recipient at MyPiggyBank Ltd is being directed to their own internal helpdesk to ask questions -- what are they going to know?


The Welcome is Everything

You may think that I'm being a little harsh here but the Welcome is everything. If you fail to get people to register after the welcome message, then your system will fail. 

It's the equivalent of having closed doors, a complex puzzle lock and no branding on the outside of your office building. Refer to my example below for a donut shop. 


Getting the Welcome Right

I could take a little time and discuss how to get the welcome right but in reality, the solution is pretty simple; 

IBM needs to allow Connections.Cloud administrators to write their ENTIRE welcome message in HTML and save it as a template.  There should be an out-of-the-box message which adheres to good practice but it should be able to be previewed and completely changed.

... and in case you forgot that I mentioned a "great article on Welcome Messages", here's a link; 

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