How Omadi Creates Products and Why You Should Care
The product development process at Omadi is centered around three primary activities:
Build - Create a basic product, service, program, or feature that will address a customer need or help you reach a goal.
Measure - Measure how well the new idea meets the needs of your customers.
Learn - Use the data from your measurements to determine how you can improve your idea in the future. This might require starting over!
Quick Note: While we often use the word "customer" all stakeholders (especially employees) can be a part of this process. We consider everyone who is interacting with our products a "customer", with their own unique challenges that we in product development need to solve.
Applying the basic principles of this process to your business can help increase customer satisfaction and revenue for any company. How? This process helps you consistently provide more and more value to customers.
In today’s world, customers expect excellence, whether it’s the place they buy their coffee, shop for a car, or order clothes online. If a company can’t quickly meet the ever-rising expectations of its customers, the company will not be around for very long. Many of you have likely been on the receiving end of a customer's expectations—whether they were upset about the cost of a service, the speed at which service was delivered, or something else. That is why the main focus of product development at Omadi is to provide the maximum amount of value to our customers as fast as possible. Doing this on a consistent basis requires a process we can easily repeat whenever a new idea, product, or feature is proposed. We hope that by sharing this process with you, it can help you find ways to improve your business in today’s fast-paced world and learn a little bit about what we do here at Omadi.
Our process is based on lean or agile best practices, which we have adapted to fit the specific way we work at Omadi. There are three main activities in lean product development: Build, Measure, and Learn (from The Lean Startup by Eric Ries). It is important to understand they don’t need to happen in that order. For example, it would be difficult to build a software product for tow truck drivers without first understanding the challenges they face in their daily work. We have to learn about our customers and their businesses before we can build anything that will provide value to them. Let’s begin with Learn.
At Omadi, we believe the best way to learn from and understand our customers’ needs is to spend time with them where they do their work. That could be in the truck with a driver, in the office with a dispatcher, or shadowing a tow company owner. While visiting customers, we ask lots of questions, observe what they do, and solicit their feedback on ideas for new products and features. Check out this article by Eric Merrit, one of our UX (User Experience) Designers from a road trip he did for more information on this.
We use many additional data points to help us understand the problems our customers face, including market research, customer support tickets, industry trends, and others. There is one purpose behind the visits and data we gather: to understand how we can improve the daily lives of our customers. In order to do that, we need to know what it’s like to be in their shoes; we need to empathize with them.
After we have used the techniques described above to learn about our customers’ needs and the problems they are facing, we create a hypothesis for a product, service, or feature we think can solve one or more of those problems. The hypothesis is a short statement that sums up the problem, how we think we can solve it, and why we think solving it will make our customer’s lives better.
Once we have a clear idea of what we want to build and why we share it with customers as soon as possible; this helps to solicit feedback and make sure we are on track. As we learn more, we make adjustments to what we are building in order to better meet our customers’ needs.
When we say “building”, that could mean anything from a drawing on a piece of paper showing a proposed user interface, to a fully developed product, or anywhere in between. The idea is to build something as quickly as possible, while maintaining high quality, in order to get feedback and make adjustments. In other words, we experiment on our hypothesis to either prove or disprove it. If we disprove it, then we create a new hypothesis (or make an adjustment to the previous one) and start the process all over again. Sometimes, we decide that our hypothesis was completely wrong and move on to something else. This isn’t a bad thing though. Up to this point, the investment in time and money has been minimal, so we’re able to quickly pivot onto what is most important in achieving our customer's needs.
A big part of running experiments on a hypothesis is to make sure we can measure the results of the experiments we perform on the things we build. This allows us to not only use qualitative data, like feedback from customers but also quantitative data in order to understand whether what we are building is actually solving our customers’ problems like we think it will.
Imagine Omadi wanted to build a new mobile app that makes it very simple for drivers to communicate with their dispatchers through voice commands. For example, the driver could say, “Omadi, tell dispatch I’m on the way to my next job,” and then the app would update the driver’s status to “en route” and notify dispatch. Some things we might want to measure to determine whether this new feature actually improves drivers’ lives are how often they use the voice command functionality, how often the app correctly interprets what the driver says, whether the number of calls and manual texts between the driver and dispatch decreases because of the voice command functionality, etc. If the data shows that drivers are not using the functionality very often, or if the app frequently doesn’t understand what drivers say, it would be a good indicator that our solution didn’t work as expected.
We can use the data from our measurements to help us decide whether to keep the feature the way it is, change it to better meet our customers’ needs, or to drop the feature altogether. And the cycle keeps going as we learn more, build other things, and measure their performance.
How Might Omadi’s Product Development Process Help Your Business?
By taking a similar approach, your towing operation can systematically offer new services and make valuable improvements to the services you provide. We have heard it said that the only reason you have brakes is so you can go fast. Sometimes the best way to improve your business is to set aside time to evaluate your business, and the Build, Measure, Learn approach is a way to make quick, data-driven changes to improve. Here are a few of the ways we have seen companies' use these techniques to improve their operations:
Create a Phone Strategy
Phones are often the first impression your customer has, so appearing professional is essential. Having a solid phone strategy can help you stand out from the competition and get more business. If you are interested, check out this article.
Use Free Texting Service to Send Customers ETA Updates:
This is a great new “feature” you can add to the current services you offer. When using any of these sorts of services you need to be careful that the return makes sense. This means if you are going to add a monthly cost like this make sure your increase in profit will justify it. Some of our favorites to check out include MercurySend and Twilio.
Employee Incentive Programs
This is a great way to increase your employee retention rate. We all know how hard it is to find great drivers and dispatchers. Focusing some time and energy on creating a new incentive program might be just what you need to save some real cash in the future. Click here for a great article on that topic.
If you feel you are coming up short, or an idea failed, you’re amongst good company. For instance, within the last month, Google canceled Google+ and Apple dropped AirPower. The important thing is that you are trying to actively make positive changes to your business. That requires iteration until you get it “just right.” These are just a few ways you can create a stronger company. If you have other ways you have found success or new ways you are going to implement this framework, shoot us an email or message us on Facebook. We love featuring companies on our social media! Good luck!