January 2021 marks the third anniversary of UP! being in business. Through the ups and the downs since our founding (both literally and figuratively), we have learned a lot about building a successful business from the ground up. If you’re thinking about going out on your own and starting your own business, starting your own tech company – or you’re simply curious about the UP! story – check out the main lessons we’ve learned over the last three years.
The biggest lesson we’ve learned (and the most crucial to our success) is the importance of listening to our users. We listen to the feedback we receive from users via reviews, phone calls, and more. From there, we thoughtfully consider all that we hear and learn from their input – the positives and especially the negatives. Feedback influenced the development of the app, and it has certainly led to the creation of the product we have today. Each update included enhancements as a result of the input we received from our users. Customers are the ones who are using your product or service, so their opinions are the most important!
Listening to your customers and making them feel heard will also encourage them to continue using your services. That human element is rare in today’s market, especially in tech-driven companies. When you truly listen to your customers and make meaningful changes based on your findings, it has a massive impact. Not only will you retain your current customer base, but they will also in turn have a more positive experience and pass that on to other people.
There is a famous scene from the show “The Office” that perfectly depicts the value of using real people in customer service. Dwight and Jim, two of the main characters, are pitching a big potential client who asks them why he should switch to a small paper company when he can get the same products for less from Staples. While Jim tries to explain why their smaller business can give them more value, Dwight calls Staples and is put on hold. After a few minutes filled with bad music and several interjections of, “your call is very important to us”, Dwight calls the company he works for and is immediately answered by the chipper voice of their customer service manager.
While we consider UP! a technology company, we still value people first. When people call us, we make sure that they immediately talk to real people. Not only does this help solve their problem faster, it also shows them that we’re invested in their experience.
The machine tool industry has been around a long time and keeps innovating. Many people in the industry have been doing things the same way for years and don’t like any disruptions to their systems. While it took a couple years for us to start to feel a change, many in the machine tool industry have embraced change and have accepted our network and technology as a new way of getting machines serviced.
When we started out, we were told that our technology was disruptive to the system that had been in place for years. Our original network users were excited to use something that they thought was beneficial but were clear that not everyone would be quite as accepting early on. However, we remained patient and continued to evolve our solution, and are now seeing steady growth.
It is possible for an industry that has “always done it this way” to embrace change and develop new processes and habits. The UP! Network is a new way of doing things, but with user-driven updates and effective, consistent marketing, we’ve grown exponentially over the past three years.
UP! was developed based on an idea to help people who need machine service connect with people who could provide that service. While our initial mission has not changed, the way in which we developed our product had to. Based on input from our first users, we changed the product to be more intuitive and work better for the people who use it. Even though this meant we had to alter the way we approached UP!, our users were far happier with the changes. After all, we created UP! for them, not ourselves.
We also had to change our approach when it came to our marketing. Initially, we marketed ourselves as an app. However, after listening to our users, we realized that UP! was so much more. The real benefit of UP! is the breadth and depth of our service network. You can access the network via an app on your smart phone or tablet, but you can also access it via a desktop computer. If we had continued marketing ourselves as an app only, we would be limiting our user base to mobile users rather than the entire industry.
Ultimately, we had to reframe the way we talked about ourselves so people who use the network understood that they can access it from any device. The app is simply one way to reach that network.
From all of us at UP!, we want to thank our supporters and users for helping us get to where we are. We look forward to continuing to serve the industrial machine tool industry for years to come. As always, we welcome your feedback. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (614) 407-8674 to give us your valued opinions.