WOOOOOOOOO. THIS COOKIN’ IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!
I love to cook, and I actually like my own cooking a lot when I take the time to do it right. That being said, I’m not a chef. I am a software guy, and in software, we refer to using our own product in our daily lives as “eating our own cooking.” Let me tell you a dirty little secret of the industry: not everyone in software is thrilled about using their own product every day. Not too long ago, we launched the HqO tenant experience app in the campus of office buildings where HqO is headquartered, and I found myself having to eat my own cooking. Guess what? It tastes really, really good.
Focus on Driving Utility for Tenants from Launch
I had the privilege of architecting the plan to get us up and running in our own building. This plan was brilliantly executed by our Tenant Experience (TeX) team, and specifically our Launch Lead, Shelly Just, but it wasn’t without challenges. Technical integrations, deployment to the Apple App Store & Google Play Store, event planning, and timing the launch weeks are just some of the factors that challenged the process. The key to success was early and frequent communication, and a true alignment in how to define success between the landlord and the technology partner (notice that I didn’t use the term “vendor” there). From the beginning, we collaborated extremely well as a team, kept ideas and creativity fresh, and held each other accountable for making sure the launch was a success. Another integral part of our launch success involved the HqO team as a whole, as Shelly points out: “The HqO team was involved in all the building launch events, which created amazing energy and additional excitement, and ultimately played a huge part in getting tenant employees excited about the app and its value.”
However, this was not our first rodeo. We have great data on what works and what doesn’t for companies of similar size, and data from past app launches we have done across our customer base. We had a playbook to successfully launch the app, and we executed it to a ‘T’. We relied on our list of most successful events, including everything from raffles and succulent giveaways, to a happy hour mixer for the tenants of all the campus buildings.
We focused the launch on driving utility first. We asked ourselves what functionality would really get users’ attention and get them to say “that would be super helpful!” We prioritized a feature called mobile access that turned our app into a keycard to enter the building, introducing a huge convenience for tenants of the building. Our reasoning fell along the lines of “at the end of the day, I forget my phone a lot less then I do my badge for the building”, and “it will just work”. Well, it had to work if our CTO was going to be using it to get into the building every day.
Pivot into Connecting the Building Community
We then asked ourselves what would be most beneficial and engaging for the tenants of this building. We focused in-app content around events happening specifically for the tenants—events that we jointly planned with the landlord. Coupling this with information about events in the bustling Downtown Crossing area that might be of interest, we were able to create a roadmap of ongoing content to keep the app fresh and introduce a ‘cool’ factor. As Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh put it during HqO’s office ribbon cutting that same week, “Our city is a hub of innovation,” which is something we are determined to capitalize on in order to further the tenant experience.
We meet regularly (weekly, in this case) to talk about content, and quarterly to discuss strategic planning. This is telling, because we never have once thought to ask, “Is the app done yet?” Another, more widely-known secret of the industry: software is never “done.” In our case, driving content to the app and providing a great tenant experience can never be capped.
In terms of this launch, we are lucky to be partnered with someone who embodies this concept. Dave Greaney, President of Synergy Investments, puts it best: “We saw HqO technology as a chance to build deeper community within our properties. We learned about HqO’s tenant experience solution and immediately saw the value in connecting our branded portfolio of buildings with one mobile application and tenant engagement programming from HqO.” There is always room for improvement, but by focusing on realistic outcomes that can constantly evolve, our team is able to continue to embody the value of our technology that Greaney, and Synergy, saw from the jump.
On a personal level, I use the app every day to get up to our office. I participate in app events, and throw my name in to raffles. I’m proud to be using our app every day and am glad to see how much the rest of the tenants like it, too. I’m eating my own cooking, and it tastes really, really good.