Starting a new venture is never easy. For the Konnexsion team, this has been no different. Putting aside all the classic business challenges of finance, investment, cash flow, skills and experience, I want to talk specifically on building a market impacting product.
Before 2019 we had been designing & building a solution based on:
- our own portfolio lettings experiences
- conversations with players in the market
- problem statements
- a belief that we, as a team, could make use of our expertise in solutions for corporate operations
All this to build a platform that would ultimately make a significant impact on the lettings market.
Our goal was clear: We want Konnexsion to be a market-leading product that drives significant customer value by improving both efficiencies in the lettings management process and providing a greater sense of transparency across all stakeholders.
As 2019 started, we moved into a new phase, rather than working with a small group of known parties we needed the variety of issues that can only come with new and unknown customers. As it happens, a couple of key customers that have been highly influential in our direction this year first met us at the National Development Summit last January.
What defines the ideal customer during the early stages of a solution? Well, I think you could argue that good customer traits are essential during all aspects of a solution lifecycle, but in these early ‘listening’ stages it’s critical.
- Open dialogue: If you are looking for a software solution, then ensure you can have an open discussion with the software provider. Don’t confuse this with a help desk. Open dialogue means you can talk through your business problems with someone who has direct influence over the product. It should quickly become apparent that this person will also be talking with other customers, perhaps even your competitors, each with their very own problems. You will benefit you in several ways:
- Typically no problem is unique so your issue should have already been resolved or at least mitigated via a workaround or alternative methods of working.
- Some of your needs will directly help the product team set the direction for the software as a whole.
- Constructive feedback: User feedback, either of experiences or identified issues, is essential to mature an emerging product. No amount of testing will ever pick up every different user keystroke or way of working that happens in the real world. As a customer in this scenario; what’s important to you is how the software provider reacts to your feedback. Changes to the product may not be possible in the short term, but you must receive options or workarounds that help you with a resolution.
- Flexibility: For me, I know I can make the most significant positive impact on my customers if they come to me saying. “My business challenge is…” rather than “I need the system to do…”. What’s the difference? Well, the first statement comes with flexibility and openness to options for resolving the problem. The reality is that, while I always have a desire to address all my customer needs, at a more holistic level, I have three fundamental conditions that I must never breach:
- Platform integrity: Every change has an impact on other parts of the solution. Even a small request can have consequences on others. We need to consider and evaluate all of these
- User experience: A useful feature for one customer may be a distraction for another. Our product team must consider the user impact, from as many angles as possible, when considering a change.
- Pipeline and the future: At Konnexsion, we have a very agile approach to development meaning our relatively short build cycles are flexible enough to allow us to add features that were not part of our original plans. This agility does not mean we do not have highly defined framework for the future. Every change we make, we evaluate how well it will scale and how it will complement other components in our pipeline. We never add features into our development cycles unless we can see how it will evolve and mature as our product grows.
Why this article?
- Well, firstly I write this in gratitude of our whole Konnexsion user community that has supported us on our journey in 2019 you are both our strength and our inspiration.
- Secondly, for those of you out there that are considering a new solution to support your lettings operations – Don’t put it off. The correct product for you will bring significant value: A value that will far offset any of the costs involved in the transition.
Feel free to give us a call or drop us a note. Our goal is to provide value to our community. So if we know we are not the solution for you, we will be open about this, but I’m sure we will both benefit from the conversation with new ideas or a better understanding of the challenges across the market.
Best of luck in achieving your goals for 2020