I remember when Uber first launched UberEats. The latter started off with a small piece of real estate within the rider app, cleanly tucked away from the rider experience. When I first tested it out, I thought it felt like a stepchild of the mammoth ride-sharing platform that had come to dominate the world of transportation. Behind the scenes, the UberEats team was piloting its potential for transporting more than just people through a limited menu of food delivery options. But they needed to validate a minimum viable experience before justifying further investment.
As a result, the initial version of UberEats was a bit of a misfit because the rider app was built for efficient transactions, whereas the process of purchasing food is more belabored and warrants an enhanced visual experience. I wanted to search for “Chinese takeout” and peruse beautiful plates of noodles instead of reading a list of text options. Over time, as loyal users grew accustomed to the less-than-ideal UI, UberEats was able to prove its place in the market and spin out its own app under the umbrella brand of Uber.
My experience launching a new workplace staffing business at Managed by Q is similar to the story of UberEats, and in many ways inspired by it. I’ve learned that when you’re adding a new line of business to your product, you need to adopt an entrepreneurial mentality to make it work. With good reason, an organization that’s successfully built to serve an existing business won’t immediately bend towards an uncharted opportunity, especially when it comes to the allocation of tech resources. That shouldn’t stop you from thinking past current constraints of the product and defining the ideal client experience. From there, start by validating your vision and work gradually towards your ideal.
How to grow into your own
Managed by Q started off as an office cleaning company and evolved into a platform to procure a whole suite of office services, from plumbing repairs to interior design. Our product was built to match clients with the best vendors for their needs. I arrived at the company in 2017, tasked with launching and growing a new workplace staffing business, designed to help companies find and hire the best office management professionals.
When I began developing my go-to-market plan, my vision for workplace staffing through Q was constrained by the product we had built. I was hyper focused on building the right supply base of staffing agencies and managing their interactions with clients, so I missed the bigger picture of what experience would be best for the client when seeking a staffing service.
Inspired by the “be a founder” principle we celebrate at Managed by Q, I began to question what I already knew and took a giant step back. I needed to develop my own point of view on a bigger vision for this business and then champion for the resources to get there. I confronted myself with the question … how would staffing through Q be different and better than anywhere else? Mulling over this question for weeks, I decided to sketch out the existing staffing experience through Q by mapping every step of the the client journey, being as granular as possible.
Seeing the experience as a flowchart made it easy to realize our differentiators but also identify the pain points. I realized we already had the unique ability to give clients access to a greater variety of candidates than they would find elsewhere, thanks to our numerous agency relationships. But to access those candidates within our existing product, clients had to manage communications with each individual vendor, and sign a contract with each one separately. These were obvious pain points in my diagram.
I concluded that we should continue to enable client access to a broad supply of candidates, since that was our competitive advantage, but…
- Eliminate their need to communicate with multiple vendors. We could do this by triaging communications with vendors through a Q concierge service, connecting clients directly with candidates.
- Eliminate their need to sign individual contracts with each vendor by introducing a single set of Q staffing terms that clients can opt into.
This visualization created a lightbulb moment and led to a series of steps to reinvent our client experience for workplace staffing.
Step #1: Define a unique value proposition — and test it
In the first phase of reinventing the client experience, my team dived into a series of client interviews, to answer core questions about how clients approach staffing their office management teams. These included:
- What methods are clients currently using to hire office management professionals?
- What are the challenges of hiring for these roles?
- What makes an office management professional successful in their role?
Through this research, we identified three significant pain points in our clients’ existing hiring process, and mapped each to a solution that we could deliver on. With these insights top of mind, we were able to develop our new value proposition:
Our workplace staffing business was developed to enable companies to source and place best-in-class office management professionals, who are fully equipped to run a modern workplace.
This new value proposition addresses a clear gap in the market and capitalized on our strengths as a company to deliver a service that would resonate with our clients.
Once we had defined our value proposition, it was easier to conceptualize our ideal client experience, but we still needed to validate it. We launched a pilot to test a new process for fulfilling staffing orders, outside of our existing product. During this pilot, we connected clients directly with candidates from a variety of sources, with a single point of contact at Q to guide the experience, a departure from our prior model of connecting clients with multiple vendors. We saw an immediate improvement in order fulfillment rates by over 15%.
Step #2: Build your new experience into your existing product
Motivated by the positive signal of our pilot, we had to figure out how to bring the experience back into our product, and draw on technology to enhance it. To do this, we applied the principle of curb cut effects.
A brief tangent about the curb cut effect…
A curb cut is a ramp graded down from the top surface of a sidewalk to the surface of an adjoining street. You might not have realized there was a name for this because they’re ubiquitous now. These were invented in the 1940s to make public streets accessible to people in wheelchairs, but they ended up benefiting other groups as well, such as bikers and people pushing strollers. The curb cut effect illustrates the unintended benefits of a design solution that can be used for various unforeseen purposes.
UberEats is a great example of an experience that leveraged curb cuts. The rider app’s existing infrastructure — built to optimize matching of supply and demand in an efficient way — could be repurposed for food delivery, as could the actual fleet of drivers as a vehicle for delivery. This gave UberEats a stepping stone to grow off of (and eventually grow out of).
Thinking creatively about how our existing feature set could be repurposed for our new workplace staffing experience helped us deliver on high impact with minimal resources. For example:
- We repurposed our messaging tool — originally built for vendors to communicate with clients — to enable our new “Q Staffing Specialist” to communicate with clients through the Managed by Q dashboard.
- We also repurposed the ability for vendors to present clients with multiple quote options through the Managed by Q dashboard to the ability for us to present multiple candidates from multiple agencies.
Step #3: Create moments of delight
As we continue to refine this experience, we’re working on creating small moments of delight for the clients throughout the fulfillment process.
Here are some places we’re adding that “extra something” to Managed by Q’s workplace staffing experience.
- Before beginning interviews, clients receive a summary from Q of the full roster of candidates they will be meeting with.
- In their first week on the job, hired candidates will receive a congratulatory care package from Managed by Q.
- In their first month on the job, hired candidates will receive an in-person visit from a Managed by Q representative to check in and provide a personal welcome to the Q family.
From awkward to awesome
Within a few years of its inception, UberEats evolved from an experimental project to the fastest growing meal delivery service, with a big U.S. presence and rapid expansion to major cities worldwide. It grew over 200% from 2017 to 2018 and now generates billions of dollars in sales annually.
Looking back, Managed by Q’s workplace staffing business started as little more than an idea of how we could use our existing infrastructure to deliver more value to our clients. By taking a customer-centric viewpoint and working backwards from what we thought a great experience would look like, we’ve successfully built another pillar of the Managed by Q platform. We’ve partnered with dozens of premier staffing agencies and placed hundreds of candidates in amazing jobs at leading companies in the past six months.
Whether you’re at Uber, Managed by Q, or somewhere in between, there is always competition for your organization’s resources. Leveraging a small team and existing infrastructure to deliver delightful experiences and validate a user need can allow you to be an entrepreneur in the organization and identify your company’s next billion-dollar business.