How Customers Influence the Product Development Process

July 22, 2020

Developing cutting edge software solutions often feels like a balancing act between driving the industry to change and grow and meeting customers where they are today. At Zipline, we have a strong philosophy around retail communication and want our customers to buy-in to that vision and trust in our method of driving store execution, compliance, and happier employees. But, we also know that stores, HQ and upper field are constantly coming up with ideas to solve today’s challenges. That’s why we lead with conviction but know we can only win by really listening to customers.

At Zipline, our entire team spends a lot of time with customers. Before the sale, our sales directors will spend weeks meeting with prospects to understand their challenges to ensure Zipline is a good fit. Meetings might involve our change management expert or sales engineers, who are all looking closely at the brand’s current people and processes and thinking critically about how Zipline can drive ROI.

When a prospect signs up for service, our client success team meets with them weekly to help with change management, conduct training or to come up with new ways to tackle old problems. And, our product team routinely meets with customers, in-person in stores and online, to understand product usage. We take the time to understand our users’ environment and surroundings as our product should support them in their role not take away from it. 

Meagan Sobol, Zipline’s Head of Product Management shares, “Through our site visits and product research we can learn more about the problems our customers face, how features are helping and how they can be improved. It’s all about identifying gaps where technology might help improve the lives of retail employees. It’s awesome when a customer meeting leads to an ‘a’ha!’ about a feature because I know that our entire community will benefit.”

Meagan shares an example to illustrate the point, saying, “A little while ago, we spent time in stores to research how we could better engage associates in the Zipline platform. We clearly saw how valuable in-person chat-ins are for building culture, keeping employees connected, and keeping retail human.”

At the same time, Meagan knew that Zipline could help retailers by digitizing aspects of these meetings to keep the content focused on the most important items. She explains, “By giving store leaders the ability to create a Daily Post that is presented to each team member when they log in for the day, our product is able to shift chat-ins to be less about information download and more about validation and education. Our goal wasn’t to replace the conversation with technology but rather to protect and enhance the value of daily interactions between leaders and their teams.” 

Customers immediately saw the value. A San Francisco-based GM said, “Zipline’s associate experience has made me more of a leader than just a manager. I have been able to lead my team more with goals, direction, and personal development versus just managing them and following-up with them on smaller details.”

As we continue to build out functionality for retailers, we are always looking for ways to make the product even more valuable. Have ideas? Schedule time with us today to share what you’re looking for in a store execution and communication platform. 

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