It's human nature - we are wired to be averse to change. When something new comes into our lives, we inherently approach it with caution, and at times, with negativity and hostility; but if that change is fundamentally good and right, it will gradually become widely accepted. For startups, especially those in the early stages of existence, changes come frequently and now and then in large chunks, which can be jarring for users who may have just become accustomed to the previous version of a product.
Anyone who uses Facebook knows that even the slightest changes in UI or the shuffling of features can create a cacophony of public outcry in the form of "I Like The Old Facebook Better!!" groups. But the interesting thing about those groups is that they eventually fizzle out and people get used to the new version of the site. Change takes time.
"You have to be patient, you have to give your customers and your community some room, some time to react, to criticize, to discuss, to debate," says Kimbarovsky in a recent video blog. "You can't harshly tell them 'this is the way it is and that's it', because it will close off communications and make it sound like you don't care what they say."
There also may be a chance to bring about the change gradually as to not upset your customers with sudden drastic changes. Kimbarovsky recounts an example in which eBay wanted to change its background color from yellow to white, so instead of flipping a switch, they slowly changed the background to a lighter shade of yellow day-by-day until the background was white. But for the most part, changes can't always be long and drawn out like eBay's color choices, so Kimbarovsky simply says to engage with your customers when they react and let their voices be heard.
"After a short amount of time, if your change is good, if it's reasonable and if it's meant to improve as you believe it is, then your customers and your community will understand it," says Kimbarovsky. "And if it's not, then you will understand that it just isn't working."