At Lightwire, we have been throwing a hell of a lot of time, effort and money into improving the business user experience, but recently we stepped back and paused to ask ourselves a few critical questions;
- How do we know that what we are working on aligns with our customer’s priorities?
- Do our customers know about the outcomes that are being generated?
- Are we sure that we are getting a return from our R&D costs? Low customer portal user numbers strongly indicated that we weren’t. Shiny/pretty/useful features add no value if they aren’t getting used.
- How can we plan and prioritise future work effectively when we can’t be sure that the problems we are aiming to address actually exist?
- With diverse customer segments (resale, wholesale, channel partners and retail) how can we effectively target new features in a way that benefits all of them?
That’s when we decided we needed a semi-formal way of engaging with key clients and stakeholders to get a clear view of what was going on.
“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”
Because we have a diverse group of clients, each with their own unique requirements, we felt that a group event would not be ideal. We want to give a select group of key clients in each segment a chance to have our complete focus in isolation, so that they could tell us what they needed and what they thought of what we had recently released… assuming they knew about our latest features such as our new Pulse dashboard within illume.
Convince 10 or so key clients to act as informal advisors to help Lightwire Business effectively plan and prioritise its new product development, feature releases and pricing.
To do this we have set up a regular quarterly meetings where we:
- Run through our previous quarter’s releases/changes to:
- Makes sure our clients are aware of what they are and the benefits they bring
- Get feedback on further improvements that could be made
- Go over product and development plans for the coming quarter and;
- Get their opinion on whether the proposed solutions add value in current form
- Whether any additional components exist that we could add to enhance value
- Give clients an open forum to discuss what else Lightwire could be doing better.
Ultimately, we want key stakeholders to have a consistent and clear opportunity to help steer Lightwire’s direction. We have just wrapped up round one of this venture and I learned more in the last fortnight than I ever imagined.
“We don’t want to push our ideas on to our customers, we simply want to make what they want.”
Key takeaways for me to date have been:
- We should have done this years ago
- Our clients have amazing product ideas
- Some extremely simple changes would add a hell of a lot of value to our clients
- Don’t assume you understand the user experience, take the time to use the tools you expect your clients to use
- Make information easy to find, it can’t be a “long walk” through multiple flows. Access must be intuitive and quick
- We have done a poor job of onboarding clients to new systems and of educating them on what they have access to
- Our clients love what they have access to once they know about it, and what we are doing sets us apart from the competition
- Our dev team is going to be even busier in 2020
I could go on, but suffice to say, the advisory board has been a complete success and I would like to truly thank every one of the people that have taken part. I have learned so much and am pumped to put all of that learning into action.