Every startup has a phase where the need for functionality is king. It makes sense: the first goal for every early stage startup is to solve a problem in the market and to prove that it can be solved in a better way. However, this approach likely creates a sub-par user experience.
This was the case in receeve, our debt collections and recovery platform, a year ago when we started our full-fledged Product team and UX/UI department.
From Engineering-led to User Experience-led
During our early days, most of the decisions that should have been made while building the product were made by engineers instead of being lead by a user experience or interface specialist. This resulted in an early product that lacked uniformity in the interface with a mixture of styles and some overly complicated solutions for the problems addressed. These problems will show when new customers and users come in and try to create a recovery strategy and need to spend multiple hours sessions to construct them.
You also have the “invisible” problem that is usually not felt immediately but is felt throughout the startup. The Operations team is overburdened with fulfilling the gaps that the user experience has. Engineers have work scattered across multiple customer requests as they come in. Sales have highly curated demos with prospects defined not only by what the customer needs to see but also by what is visually appealing and easily understandable.
As you can see, the lack of focus on the user experience and interface early on can cause tension throughout the user base and the startup itself.
That was the problem we faced a year ago in receeve.
When I joined, my main goal was to push for an internal mentality shift. We needed to shift away from an engineering-centred product to a user-centred product.
With this in mind we planned the path forward with the following:
- Full UX/UI review of the platform
- Customer interviews
- User testing
- Processes to include design earlier
Full UX/UI review of the platform
Our goal was to assess the then state of the product.
We wanted to identify quick wins - issues that we could solve easily and deploy them to all our customers as quickly as possible.
We found some inconsistencies in the UX: from multiple deletions flow to a lack of standardizing the headers that we have on every page. Addressing issues like these ensure that our users have a unified experience throughout receeve.
This review also allowed us to identify deeper issues. Those that we need to address, but that the solution is not particularly simple or obvious. For these, we planned and implemented multiple product discovery projects with the help of our Product Owners.
Even though our team has multiple people experienced in the subject of collections, we are not the ones using receeve day in and day out.
Our customers have more experience in the use of our solution and its limitations than most of us in the Product teams. And while our Product Owners are experts in our system, they don’t have to deal with the specific use cases that our customers have.
These interviews highlighted how our customers were happy with our solution, some of them describing the switch from another provider as a revelation. They also showed how easy our solution was but not without faults. So, in coordination with the rest of the Product team, we ensured to weigh this feedback in the prioritization of our Roadmap.
We knew that we wanted to further improve the experience of our customers and their debtors. In the end, if you streamline what the debtor has to do to solve their situation, the more likely they are to do it.
We wanted to ensure exactly that. We aim to offer the best experience possible to the debtors, they already are in a bad situation and we want to make it a little easier and solve their problems in a simpler manner with the help of technology.
For that, we have conducted user tests by interviewing and guiding people through our solutions. These gave us a lot of insights into the expectations of the debtors and how to further improve our processes.
Processes to include design earlier
We aim to have a best-in-class software solution and for that, we need to avoid the pitfalls that we had fallen into when getting started.
The Product team has created a strong process that put design at the centre of the decisions for any new feature proposed to be introduced into receeve.
Since the inception of a feature, design is consulted to better understand the use case and problem that needs to be addressed. A UX/UI Enterprise Specialist aids the Product Owners in the product discovery phase of the product development and then produces the fully-fledged prototypes so they can be delivered to the Engineering team.
Mitigating expensive problems that were previously found only once the solution was implemented and needed to be rethought from the ground up.
Designing a better product for everyone
We added all of these processes to ensure the best possible product for our customers and to ensure that we can continuously deliver improvements at our high standards.
We want to make the debtors the main focus so our customers get the best business results and increase customer lifetime value.
Finally, we believe that a UX-centric approach is the path forward to provide a scalable, simple and sophisticated product that can help both those who want to collect money and those to owe it.