What It Takes to Build a One-Stop Shop to Support Service Companies Online
You can figure out how to be everything your customers need, but you have to know what questions to ask and how to listen to the answers.
When you think of Amazon, the descriptor that likely comes to mind is "one-stop shop." Customers can get just about anything they need on the platform, true to Jeff Bezos' vision. The idea of meeting many, if not all, of a consumer's needs isn't exclusive to the retail industry, though. As service providers follow retailers online over the next decade, software developers can create analogous digital marketplaces that address the everyday operational needs of service organizations.
Companies succeed when they design their software to work for the businesses, rather than for the businesses to work within the software. Every component should be designed to solve the real-life problems its users have, such as complicated billing processes, contactless check-ins and booking. Most importantly, companies should listen to their clients and let them determine what the product should look like.
Experiencing client pain points
As you develop the software behind your platform, talk with people in the industry to learn what functions the technology needs to have. Those interactions and efforts will show you what your potential clients want and need.
Of course, there are limits to how you can help your clients. You can't provide their rent or pay their electricity — but you can offer everything else they need to help them do that for themselves. If you never abandon this goal and continue to invite feedback to add additional functions to your software in response to changes in market demands and technologies, your customers will stay with you for the long haul.
Small inconveniences can spell big trouble for everyone
No matter what service a client offers, it's almost inevitable for them to encounter small inconveniences in their work that create friction and slowdown. Many clients 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 hurdles.
This needs to be at the front of your mind as you build your platform. Help your customers to stop putting up with difficulties and give them a way to smooth out all of the annoying little kinks they are dealing with. But we understand that pain points have their own unique footprint. What one business has to deal with might not be at all what another business goes through. Spend time with many clients to try to understand not only the broad support your technologies need to offer, but also the ways you can try to respond to individual facilities 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 each individual company its own distinct needs, must remain at the fore. Ask yourself "What are my clients running up against regularly?" and "What does their day usually look like?" You can also look at it in terms of "What tasks can we take off the client's plate through technology to help them fulfill their potential?" Through those direct interactions, you'll gain a picture of how to pull the different functions together. There's no substitute for this type of direct research.
Hands-on customer service is 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 complaints from users. This work can help you become even more personally committed to resolving problems. Refuse to distance yourself from the nitty-gritty, because you can't serve your clients if you don't really know what they feel every day.
When you review new options and designs, always look through the client's eyes and parse out how to make a good solution a reality. The more you can be on the front lines through development, and the more you can engage with the people you're building for, the better your one-stop shop will be, because every interaction grows your empathy for the people who need you.
Evolve your one-stop shop with lots of new questions
Service companies have all kinds of tedious tasks to confront that can make work less efficient and harder to enjoy. But computers were designed to confront those tedious tasks head-on. Helping providers manage them for smoother operations is possible with creative, client-led development. What's more is, you can put the many kinds 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 in front of you and being willing to walk alongside your client in a humble way. Once you connect with the people who provide the services, keep asking questions to evolve and ensure the one-stop shop continues to deliver in relevant ways.
Entrepreneur Editors' Picks
Kale Was a Garnish Before This Creative Genius Made It Famous. Here's How She Did It — and What She's Planning Next.
Telling Your Brand Story Is Crucial. 4 Steps to Ensure That It Resonates.
This Baker Was Told Not to Speak Spanish With Colleagues, So She Started Her Own Cake Company That Values Employees Just as Much as Customers
Improving Yourself Takes 9.6 Minutes of Work Each Day
Meet the Women Behind Some of McDonald's Most Iconic (and Essential) Ingredients — and How They're Setting New Standards
Remote Work Shouldn't Be Up for Debate
Employees Are Over Foosball Tables and Free Snacks. Your Company Culture Needs This Instead.