During my first month at Infusionsoft, I had the good fortune to run into Amy Barnhart who runs a business that provides its clients with a variety of marriage enhancement products and services. It’s fun for me today to read the first few lines of my notes from our first call:
More than 200 customer phone interviews, dozens of on-site visits, and a few surveys of our entire user-base later, Amy’s comments are still fresh, relevant, and as good a description as any of the benefits sought by an old Infusionsoft constituent that we’ve given a new name: The Autoresponder Graduates.
To give you a taste of our new approach to product development at Infusionsoft going forward, this post has two parts. Here, in part one, I’ll tell you a bit about our new approach to development. Then in part two, I’ll tell you about our solution.
Our Approach to Developing Software
Over the last few months, we’ve met with dozens (hundreds, maybe) of folks just like Amy and discovered that a significant portion of our community of 20,000 users are struggling with problems just like hers:
“If a user takes an action, I have to manually update it so they won’t get the automated follow-up sequence … Lots of manual work.”
We heard this again and again again! We heard it enough that we decided to conduct something we call a “Current Reality” session with our development team.
A current reality session is a multi-day meeting where our product teams map in explicit detail the steps one of our target users must go through before they attain the benefit they are seeking. In Amy’s case, this looked like setting up a web form and then associating it with a set of autoresponders that are smart enough to automatically re-route users to different autoresponders based on their behavior (clicking a link, for example).
Our team was new to the “Current Reality” practice. I’ll never forget the first day; I asked “So, what does Amy have to do to get to the benefit she’s seeking?” One team member looked at me and said “Well, she has to import her customer list.”
“Yes. But I want to get more basic,” I said. “She’s just purchased Infusionsoft and has now landed on the homepage. What does she do next?”
“Wait. You want us to click through every single screen Amy would have touched?”
“Now you’re getting the idea. But I don’t just want clicks. I want you to print each screen and hang it on the wall.”
“That’s going to take a while.”
“Don’t stress,” I said. “I brought bagels.”
It actually took all 24 of us two 12-hour days. We filled the walls with hundreds of pages of our application (and do you have any idea how many bagels 24 software people can eat in 24 hours?)
We were pie-eyed by the end of the second day. Here are a few of pictures of the room we worked in:
We were also full of inspiration and ideas about what we could do to improve the experience of our Autoresponder Graduates.
What did we come up with? Read this next post…