When contracting for a new project, the two biggest questions to which clients want to know the answers are:
- How much is it going to cost?
- When will it be finished?
We’re going to take a deeper look into the second question.
As a client, you should have a great understanding of the timeline for the development of the project, and the best snapshot of that is the launch date. But there is a big difference between launch date and completion date: the latter doesn’t exist. Or shouldn’t.
The minute you stop improving your product, and call it “finished”, is the minute it starts to become obsolete. This is true for large Web applications, mobile apps, APIs, and even standard marketing (and especially lead-generating) Websites.
In fact, once a project launches, that’s when the real work begins. That’s the moment when your customers begin to use the technology in the real world, in real scenarios, under real conditions. It’s called a launch, not a landing.
Customer experience doesn’t begin until a real customer actually experiences your online product. Any customer frustration is an opportunity to listen, learn, plan, and iterate with the goal of eliminating or minimizing that frustration.
What’s the cost for frustrating your customers? Bad online reviews, negative comments in social media, or in extreme cases, even bad press and viral media. Negative impressions, over time, result in negative brand perceptions.
But even beyond listening intently to your customers about their experiences with your product and addressing those issues, taking a proactive approach to improving your customer experience will allow you to compete and win.
We see even Fortune 1000 enterprises routinely stuck in the “project as a checkbox” mindset. “Well, the project is launched, onto the next one!” It’s the “set it and forget it” mentality, and it can be deeply engrained into the enterprise culture.
There’s a new breed of company that understands that rabid brand advocacy is born from amazing and inspiring customer experiences. You see this type of loyalty with industry leaders such as Apple, Amazon, Zappos, Whole Foods, and more.
They’re obsessed with delighting the customer, and that permeates through everything they do, including their online technologies. But here’s the thing – they started out with that obsession, and that’s how they got to where they are today. They knew that the launch product wasn’t perfect and never is, but they continue to chase that perfection.
Get to market and iterate, iterate, iterate. Here’s Amazon at launch:
Once you refer to your product as finished, I promise you, you’ll be right.