“It’s been a busy year for ReadyTalk.”
Everyone beamed in response to the analyst’s comment. ReadyTalk has had a year of unprecedented product and service expansion. After a decade of offering a single web conferencing platform, in 2016 alone ReadyTalk brought to market a standalone video conferencing product, an accompanying in-room hardware offering and a replay webinar solution. We also announced our entry into the cloud communications market. There’s actually more news, but that’s just for starters.
It’s not that we haven’t been busy other years. But the work released this year is notable as it is a departure from technical innovation and improvements. Instead of aiming to make our products better, we at ReadyTalk spend 2016 firmly aiming to make your experience (as our customer) better.
Formalizing Innovation and CX
Although we were well into 2016 when we formalized our Innovation and Customer Experience departments, the ethos of customer-focused innovation was heartily adopted. ReadyTalk has always been customer-centric, with our devotion to “delivering WOW” via our customer care and account management services. But this year, more than ever, our product and marketing efforts also focused more on better understanding and helping to solve our customers’ problems.
Talk to the customer … and listen
This year we made a concerted effort to embrace design thinking and jobs theory in our innovation and R&D efforts. We spoke to prospective customers to truly understand their activities. And we listened. We found out how things are done now, using which tools. We learned what was most important, what was working and what wasn’t. As an innovation group in particular, we weren’t representing ReadyTalk the cloud communications provider. We didn’t enter the room with a specific product in mind and hope to hear validation for it. Instead, we were focused on a target customer, to understand where they were underserved. This sort of direct insights-gathering is critical: if you wait to buy a market research report from an analyst, you know all your competitors are getting it too. Where’s the opportunity in that?
Most importantly, this type of customer-driven innovation let us take a step back from incremental product improvement and focus more on satisfying the customer. Too often we get focused on a specific task a user is performing with our product, and we don’t consider the overall progress he is seeking to make under those circumstances. What does he do before or after, and how we can aim to provide a single platform or product that satisfies him throughout the job? Tony Ulwick, founder of Strategyn and author of “What Customers Want” and “Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice” introduces the concept of the 8 stages of a job. A company can succeed by innovating across each of these stages, rather than over-engineering one aspect of it.
Introducing FoxDen, FoxDen Connect, ReadyTalk Illuminate and ReadyTalk Hosted Voice
A key example is our FoxDen Connect product. This elegant product lets you walk in a room, start your video conference on the in-room equipment and connect with remote participants, all from a single click on your smartphone. This device and its interaction dramatically simplifies and speeds up the “meeting start” experience. Instead of spend minutes dialing in and entering codes, you can begin a meeting in the proverbial click of a button. It knocks significant time off the nonsense and enables people to get down to business. This was ReadyTalk’s first foray into selling hardware, and it makes sense to extend the solution we offer our customers to what they need to start using our software.
ReadyTalk Hosted Voice is another interesting example: ReadyTalk offers audio, video and web conferencing. So why would we offer what could be considered a competing product? Well, conferencing meets enables individuals to connect with a group of people at once: one-to-many. But people also need to communicate with people one-to-one, so rather than drawing a line and saying “we only provide certain types of communications to our customers,” ReadyTalk is expanding to better provide for our customers. By being a provider of both 1:1 and 1:many communications, we can improve the experience so people don’t need to swap out systems to perform what is essentially the same task.
A final example is ReadyTalk Illuminate – Replay. We’ve offered a webinar platform for marketers for years, and in 2016 we took a step back to really understand what challenges they were facing for lead generation activities. We heard loud and clear they needed a solution that gave them confidence as well as control in their outreach to prospects. That’s why we prioritized our exciting Replay feature in our Illuminate webinar platform. It’s also why we’ll continue to add exciting new features to support marketers in all their most critical activities in the upcoming year.
As we wind down the year, I revel in the progress we have made as an organization. Through design sprints and customer interviews, we were able to design and bring to market products that met our customers ever evolving needs.