Question: How does a world-class software company inspire passion in their developers?
Answer: Gamify meeting and interacting with customers and incentivize the experience.
The best software in the world is built by people that are passionate about the problem domain they are working in. Every small business is unique. The world would be a boring place if we all shopped at “Shoe Store”, “Market” or “Bakery”. Small businesses are not cookie cutter like big-box retailers. Each location has a character of its own that is shaped by the owner, the physical space, the community they are in, all of which are the same things that make each and every one of us unique.
At ShopKeep we want to make sure our team is as connected to our customer base as possible. At some companies, this is an easy problem to solve as every employee is a customer but we build software for small businesses. Very few, if any, of our employees will also be one of our customers. At best, they may have a friend or family member that is a small business owner that uses ShopKeep.
Our solution is to bring our merchants experiences front and center into our employees lives at work and to encourage our employees to seek out our merchants in the wild…
Enter: Operation Exploration!
We gamified seeking out our merchants in the wild and turned it into a unique benefit for ShopKeep employees. Everyone who works at ShopKeep is paid to shop at our customers small business locations. Employees can expense up to $20 at a customer location on the condition that they speak to the employees about ShopKeep and submit an identifiable receipt. Maybe they’ll find a cashier and hear what they think of our register. Maybe they’ll find a business owner and hear how they handle employee training or inventory management. Maybe they’ll just share a moment and talk about how much they both love a well-made cappuccino or what inspired this merchant to start a business.
No matter what they discuss, they bring it back in-house. It’s an opportunity to support the industry we work in and to learn from it as well. We realize that we aren’t building software for the faceless masses. We are building software for humans – Software for people. Software for MaryAnne who loves ShopKeep Pocket. Software for Vincent who can’t get enough of our reports but also makes a really serious donut. Our VP of Product has his office wall covered in receipts from our team’s visits to small businesses. Each one has a story. We learn how our merchants have used our software in ways that we haven’t expected, where we’ve succeeded and where we need to improve.
The program has been so successful that I find that when I’m on any trip, I peek into our customer directory to find a merchant nearby. I need to get lunch anyway, why not dine with one of our merchants that is local and unique? I know my kids want ice cream (ok, ok, so do I) why not stop at one of our merchants? It is a great way to learn about an area and get a truly local experience. Something special and memorable; just like our merchants.
Bringing ShopKeep merchants into our employee’s lives at work is simpler. Our dashboards flash NPS survey feedback periodically to remind us what our merchants think of our software. Every week during our technology and product department sync we highlight Promoters, Detractors and Neutral comments from the week. Through this we learn where we are winning, where we’ve missed the mark and how we can do better.
All of this is to remind us why we show up to ShopKeep each day. The best tech comes from those that are passionate and helping people thrive is our passion.