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How to: Help Create a More Perfect Product

pgriggs September 20, 2011

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LISTENIf I could choose my title, I’d probably like to call myself a usability evangelist. I think it speaks to my passion … but when I talk like that I get snickers … so I guess my official title is usability specialist.

Regardless of what you call me, one key to my job is staying dialed into client needs; it’s part of my job description.

One thing that I try to keep in mind is that if we want to meet our clients’ software needs, we have to have ongoing relationships and truly be concerned about their visions. We need to understand issues from the client’s point of view—not from ours.

There are several ways R&D connects with users to gather data for changes, enhancements, updates, and features.

How we connect with our clients

My favorite option is the weekly Customer Team meeting. The Customer Team meets weekly to review mockups and wireframes. We discuss ongoing enhancements for new products coming down the line, like Stratus, Access ACS, giving kiosks, our check-in products and more. This is a meeting where you as the client get the opportunity to dream and really vocalize what you need to accomplish your ministry’s biggest dreams.

Just last week in a Customer Team meeting, Ron Kochanowski, of Bethany Assembly of God in Agawam, MA, said, “If ACS Technologies can accomplish this, then we would be breaking down physical walls of the church and the church could be a spiritual hospital for people.” I know it sounds corny, but I get so excited when I hear our clients talk like that!

I also have one-on-one talks with clients about specific enhancements or mockups. These are mainly to gather research so that the developers will know not only that a feature or change is needed, but also why it’s needed. The process works best when we understand what that change means to you as a client. These discussions help us get to the heart of the matter and know how a change affects you personally.

Speak your mind!

Another of my favorite tools is Get Satisfaction. It’s the place where our clients tell us what they’d like more of, what they’d like less of, and what needs to be reworked about our software. Other users can then vote on the suggestions they see on Get Satisfaction. It’s a great way to get involved and help design a more perfect product, one that helps you work smarter to achieve your ministry’s goals. And it’s not just an exercise for you to vent: R&D absolutely uses Get Satisfaction to help prioritize what we work on.

If you would like to participate in these options, please email usability@acstechnologies.com for more info. I’d love to work with you!

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