Technology is changing faster than ever before. In this new era of digital transformation, mobile tech and smart devices have become an instrumental part of the change. Smart Lockers, for example, stepped up to the challenge of helping implement safe and efficient workflows in remote and hybrid work environments.
But as technology continues to rapidly evolve - and future transformations remain on the horizon - ensuring the products you buy and the software they come with are backed by a customer-centric company is essential. This means that consistent enhancements and new features will always keep you and your bottom line resilient, no matter what lies ahead.
At LocknCharge, our relationship doesn’t end with our customers when they buy a product. Our Cloud-based Smart Lockers are device management investments with universal compatibility for your laptops and tablets that come with long term benefits to your company, and the cultivation of that relationship begins with our nimble and highly-skilled internal team.
To better control costs, some companies look to hire outsourced software development teams. At LocknCharge, the agility we pass on to the customer is powered by our in-house development team instead. The benefit of direct communication and immediate support our internal team provides allows us to ensure that customer experiences are always at the forefront. Recent research has also shown that the link between software development and innovation is strongest for firms that develop software in-house.
Our smaller-scale company structure also helps in an age of rapid transformation. We’re able to both address and solve customer needs quickly and efficiently.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes Q&A with Vlad Vasilciuc, Director of Product Management at LocknCharge, where we discuss how our customer-centric philosophy comes to life and why it’s important for us to always look to our customers for feedback at every stage of product development.
What do you and your team do as part of product management at LocknCharge?
VV: I am the Product Manager at LocknCharge, but also manage our in-house software development team. In this role, I am the bridge between the technical development teams, and sales, marketing, and customers. My job is to understand customer workflows, pains, and goals – and then work with a variety of stakeholders in how best to solve them.
What makes LocknCharge a customer-centric company?
VV: We try and validate feature development at various phases in the development cycle. As we prototype, we reach out to end customers to validate that the changes we’re making are solving their pain points. We try to ground our product development on real customer data.
With tech advancing so quickly, how often are updates and enhancements being made to smart locker systems?
VV: When it comes to our LocknCharge Cloud software platform and our Smart Lockers, we’re releasing enhancements on a weekly basis. Our releases may not always include features, but we are making incremental improvements to the platform. In doing so, we ensure that our systems are up to date and that our platform is as secure as possible. Improvements in any given release may include security updates, UI improvements, bug fixes, etc.
How is the LocknCharge product team so nimble when it comes to bringing these enhancements to customers?
VV: All of our development is done in-house. From the physical, mechanical design, to the electronics, to the software and firmware – we have specialist engineers that do the research and development to respond to urgent requirements. Couple that with our access to customers globally, and we can get answers to questions more quickly than if we were relying on outsourced specialists. Outsourced development can lead to longer wait times between prototype phases as well as lengthy product feedback loops.
How has customer feedback impacted enhancements and new features at LocknCharge?
VV: We follow a methodology that is “continual improvement, continual deployment.” That means that we are releasing bite size chunks of a feature, which allows for shorter customer feedback loops. As we release a small part of the feature, users can start interacting with it a lot earlier than if we were to develop the feature in its entirety. This means that instead of relying on assumptions, we’re able to get real-world use cases and validation as we develop, and we can change course as feedback comes in.
What are some features of LocknCharge products that have emerged from taking customer feedback into account?
VV: To give some context before I talk about features, the key product category that I manage is Smart Lockers. Our current lineup of Cloud-based smart lockers for device management are designed for managing and charging laptop and tablet devices, allowing customers to automate the deployment and access to those devices.
One feature that we recently completed is the ‘External Users’ feature. This feature allows customers to connect their user directory to our system and automates who is allowed access to the contents of the smart locker compartments. So, in a check-in/check-out workflow, administrators of the FUYL Tower Smart Lockers can grant access to users based on their group permission set defined in their system. The benefit of integrating or connecting to their user directory is that the user administrator only has to manage one user directory – their own. There is just one source of truth. If an employee leaves their organization, they don’t have to update users in other systems that may have a copy of their users. Once it’s updated in their user directory, it’s updating in all the other connected systems, saving them time, and giving them peace of mind that their access has been fully revoked.
How was the process of that feature developed?
VV: It’s very difficult to support integrating every user directory on the market as there are lots and lots of them. So, we initially got some data on what the most popular user directories were, and then validated the data with a survey and customer interviews.
The results gave us a good starting point, but also recognized that the data was still limited. We developed with the idea in mind that we would have customers reach out to us after the release of the feature with feedback and additional requirements. And that’s exactly what happened. Because we allowed for this in our design, we were able to add additional requirements quickly.
How has the pandemic changed this process or priorities when it comes to being customer centric?
VV: The pandemic has definitely made our process more challenging. Along with customer calls and surveys, we like to get out to customer sites and observe the product in use. But our situation isn’t unique, and just like many other organizations, we’ve had to adapt. We use a lot of online tools to get the feedback we need.
How did you ensure that LocknCharge products are future proof?
VV: We ensure our projects are future proof by doing market research, watching tech trends, gathering sales and marketing feedback, and constantly talking to customers are methods that help us develop adaptable products. We also look at usage data and overlay that with what we are seeing and hearing in the field.