Francien Verdenius explains how customers play an active role in developing new digital tools
At Stolt Tank Containers, we’re committed to providing a service that makes our customers’ jobs as easy as possible. That means complementing our fast and flexible bulk liquids logistics services with convenient ways to book, track shipments and manage administration.
Alongside the personal attention provided by our customer service personnel, we continue to develop all kinds of digital self-service tools. Francien Verdenius, one of Stolt Tank Containers’ Product Owners, has previously explained the philosophy behind these online tools. Below, she goes into more detail about how we ensure they really do what our customers want them to do, by involving customers in the design process.
Designing together with customers
“We know how important it is for customers to have insights into their shipment information at all times, so they can confidently keep their own customers updated. Stolt Tank Containers is happy to provide the transparency that lets this happen. All that remains is working out how to design our digital tools in a way that truly satisfies customers’ needs.
“One of the starting points we keep in mind when designing new functionalities is: It needs to be easy to use and easy to access. The only way we can be sure of achieving all this is to involve actual customers all through the design process. The phases we go through are described below.”
1. Determine what features are needed
Development of a new functionality always starts with an idea. Ideas can come from anywhere but very often they are a result of customers requesting certain types of information or asking for it to be accessible in a different way. When we pick up on these signals, the first things we do are consider whether the desire is widely relevant and make sure we clearly understand the problem that’s there to be solved.
“Our Track and Trace tool is a good example of this. It was clear our customers wanted an easily accessible Track and Trace mechanism, but we needed to have more conversations with them to determine which information should be shown and which has to remain private.”
2. Create a design and test it
Once we have a good idea of what we want to develop, and why, our user experience and interface designer makes a working prototype. We ask our customers to test this prototype and provide feedback.
Key questions include: Can they find everything they need? Is it clear what everything means? Can they find their way around the navigation? Is there anything they’re missing? Does it make their current tasks more efficient? If not: how can we improve?
Basically: Does it work for them?
“Personally, I really enjoy these sessions as there are always a few ‘aha’ moments. Customers always come up with comments that give new ideas and insights into the way they work, which are extremely helpful for getting the design right. Discovering things you never think about because you’re not in their shoes makes all the difference. This is what takes a product from just having another feature to something that really works and people love to use.”
3. Develop the design and go live
Once the design has been validated and adjusted in line with feedback, our development team gets to work. Their finished product is thoroughly tested for quality and security. When everything is given the OK, it’s time to go live.
“The moment of truth comes when we see whether everything is working as well in practice as it was in theory, and if customers are happy and choose to use it again. It is always exciting getting something new released and seeing the impact it makes.”
Get involved – tell us what you’d like to see next!
If you have any requests or ideas about how we can make your business with STC easier, or would like to take part in our testing & feedback sessions, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com
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About Francien: “I’m Francien Verdenius. I’m a Product Owner at Stolt Tank Containers and am currently working on our online customer channels and service functionalities, such as the Stolt Tank Containers website and Track and Trace. I love creating products that people love to use, over and over again.”