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When you think of Amazon, the descriptor that probably comes to mind is “one-stop shop”. Customers can get pretty much everything they need on the platform, true to Jeff Bezos’ vision. The idea of meeting many, if not all, of a consumer’s needs is not unique to the retail industry. As service providers follow online retailers into the next decade, software developers can create analogue digital marketplaces that meet the daily operational needs of service organizations.
Companies are successful when they design their software to work for companies, rather than companies working within the software. Each component should be designed to solve the real-life issues your users have, like complicated billing processes, contactless check-ins and reservations. Most importantly, companies must listen to their customers and let them determine what the product should look like.
Related: How to maintain a relationship with your customers by learning what they need
Experiencing customer pain points
As you develop the software behind your platform, talk to people in the industry to learn what roles the technology needs to play. These interactions and efforts will show what your potential customers want and need.
Of course, there are limits to how you can help your customers. You can’t provide their rent or pay their electricity – but you can provide them with everything they need to help them do it for themselves. If you never abandon that goal and keep asking for feedback to add additional functions to your software in response to changing market demands and technologies, your customers will stay with you for a long time.
Related: 3 ways to connect with your customers and improve their experience
Small inconveniences can mean big problems for everyone.
No matter what service a customer provides, it is almost inevitable that they will encounter small inconveniences in their work that create friction and slowdowns. Many clients learn to tolerate these problems, because initially they don’t have good solutions to eliminate them. But this often means they end up working harder and spending more than necessary, and in the end, what initially seemed like a minor problem can create massive systemic consequences or additional obstacles.
This needs to be on your mind as you build your platform. Help your customers stop enduring hardship and give them a way to smooth out all the annoying little kinks they are dealing with. But we understand that pain points have their own unique footprint. What one company has to deal with may not be what another company goes through. Spend time with many customers to try to understand not only the broad support your technologies need to provide, but also the ways in which you can try to respond to individual installations through customization and a la carte packages.
As you develop your own one-stop shop, the idea that each industry has its own issues and each company its distinct needs must remain at the forefront. Ask yourself “What are my customers experiencing on a regular basis?” and “What is their day like?” You can also look at this in terms of “What tasks can we take off the customer’s plate through technology to help them reach their potential?” Through these direct interactions, you will get an idea of how to bring the different functions together. There is no substitute for this type of forward lookup.
Hands-on customer service is the core of your best product
Don’t be afraid to take a very practical approach. If you need to, act as your own customer service department, personally handling user complaints. This work can help you become even more personally committed to problem solving. Refuse to stray from the nitty-gritty, because you can’t serve your customers if you don’t really know what they feel every day.
When reviewing new options and designs, always look through the eyes of the customer and analyze how to make a good solution a reality. The more you are on the front lines through development, and the more you can engage with the people you are building for, the better your one-stop shop will be, because every interaction increases your empathy for the people who need you.
Related: The Ripple Effects of Quality Customer Service
Evolve your one-stop shop with lots of new questions
Service companies have all sorts of tedious tasks to tackle that can make work less efficient and more difficult to enjoy. But computers were designed to tackle these tedious tasks head-on. Helping providers manage them for smoother operations is possible with customer-led creative development. Plus, you can put the various types of support they need in one place. It is simply a matter of being willing to take the time to discover the unique pain points in front of you and being willing to walk humbly alongside your client. Once you’ve connected with the people providing the services, keep asking questions to evolve and ensure the one-stop shop continues to deliver in a relevant way.