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When you think of Amazon, the descriptor that probably comes to mind is “one stop shop.” Customers can get almost anything they need on the platform, true to Jeff Bezos’ vision. However, 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 over the next decade, software developers can create analog digital marketplaces that address the day-to-day operational needs of service organizations.
Businesses succeed when they design their own software to work for businesses, rather than businesses working within the software. Each component must be designed to solve the real-life problems your users have, such as complicated billing processes, contactless check-ins, and reservations. Most importantly, companies should 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
Experience customer pain points
As you develop the software behind your platform, talk to people in the industry to learn what features the technology should have. These interactions and efforts will show you what your prospects want and need.
Of course, there are limits to how much you can help your customers. You can’t provide their rent or pay the electricity, but you can provide everything they need to help them make it on their own. If you never abandon that goal and continue to invite feedback to add additional features to your software in response to changes in market demands and technologies, your customers will stick with you for the long haul.
Related: 3 Ways to Connect with Your Customers and Improve Their Experience
Small inconveniences can mean big problems for everyone
Regardless of the service a customer offers, it’s almost inevitable that they will encounter small hiccups in their work that create friction and slowdown. Many customers learn to put up with these problems, because they initially 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 should be at the forefront of your mind as you build your platform. Help your customers stop struggling and give them a way to smooth out all the annoying little problems they’re 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 at all. Spend time with many customers to try to understand not only the broad support your technologies need, but also the ways 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 every industry has its own problems, and every individual company its own needs, must remain at the forefront. Ask yourself “What are my customers looking for on a regular basis?” and “What is your day usually like?” You can also look at it in terms of “What tasks can we take away from the customer through technology to help them realize their potential?” Through these direct interactions, you will get a picture of how the different functions come together. There is no substitute for this type of direct research.
Hands-on customer service is at the core of your best product
Don’t be afraid to take a very hands-on approach. If you need to, act as your own customer service department, personally fielding user complaints. This work can help you become even more personally engaged in problem solving. Refuse to stray from the essence, 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 can be on the front lines through development and the more you can relate to the people you’re building for, the better your one-stop shop will be, because each interaction increases your empathy for the people who need you.
Related: The Ripple Effects of Quality Customer Service
Evolve your one-stop shop with many new questions
Service companies have all kinds of tedious tasks to deal with that can make work less efficient and harder to enjoy. But computers were designed to tackle these tedious tasks head on. Helping suppliers manage them for smoother operations is possible with creative customer-led development. Plus, you can put the many types of support they need in one place. It’s simply a matter of being willing to take the time to figure out the unique pain points you face and being willing to walk alongside your customer in a humble way. Once you connect with the people providing the services, keep asking questions to evolve and make sure the one-stop shop continues to deliver in a relevant way.