We sat down with Last Basic’s COO, Steven Janssens to discuss how they have been scaling up their processes and operations, as well as exploring the strategies and tools that helped them get there. This Q&A focuses on Product Strategy and User Experience.
Firstly, tell us a little bit about Last Basic and your role.
LastBasic is a product development and prototyping company based out of Madrid, Spain. We are focused on making our industry more accessible to a larger audience. We are digitally transforming a traditional industry and creating an approachable service to all that want to create through the development of our platform and marketplace approach to product development.
My role at Lastbasic is Chief Operations Officer. I manage our internal operations team with the goal to ensure our clients (the inventors) and our experts (the designers) are happy and making progress on our platform. I have been working on developing the product strategy and operations strategy for our company for the last 3 years with our talented team from all over the globe.
Can you explain the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) Methodology, and how Last Basic approaches it?
I am a big believer in MVP methodology when building a startup. Especially when you are working closely with customers. We are transforming an industry and traditional workflows around design, project management, and engineering skillsets and we need to test our assumptions on a daily basis. I always push myself and my team to consider how to test their approach to making our product better, as a way to build a service based on real needs rather than assumed needs. Also because we are a startup, we need to be smart with our resources and really focus on updates to our platform that provide the most value to the most customers.
With buzz out there about being product-led and taking the MVP approach, how does that define your overall growth strategy?
LastBasic was founded by people that wanted to change an industry that they felt was outdated and non-digital. Now we have a strong team of technical product talent that is taking our foundational assumptions around our industry and building better product experiences through our software platform. We are working hard to make LastBasic product-led, but always be close to our customers and their real needs. The MVP approach allows us to grow in a sustainable way, and address needs proactively as we stay close to our customers.
Your company is relatively young but experiencing success. With that comes some growing pains, so how are you approaching your Customer Experience?
We are a customer experience product when you think about it. Customer Experience is very important to our success. We have learned a lot of hard lessons in the past 3 years about customer experience and making the leap from a customer being used to an experience that was (in the past) highly in-person to an experience that is mostly digital. We are trying, as a team, to get ahead of our customers and be proactive in our communication rather than just responsive.
Many start-ups know what they need to do but have resource limitations. What tools do you feel are critical for SaaS or subscription-based start-ups?
Being that we are a digital platform and marketplace dealing with complex workflows and projects, communication tools are essential for our success. We have invested in Froged to work with the team to provide our customers with the best-in-class customer service and project updates with real people. We have developed internal analytics tools to track our progress and keep our global team updated. We have also invested in secure and stable IT infrastructure setups so that our transactions and marketplace movements are trusted and transparent to our clients and experts. We believe in always asking to Buy or Build as a product team, and trying to make sound decisions on what to invest our limited resources into as a team.
Speaking of tools, those are often approached as part of scaling up. What is Last Basic’s approach to scale and how are you implementing the strategy?
Scale is different for different businesses. We are definitely at a moment in our history trying to scale up our operations but also maintain our customer service successes from our earliest customers. We define our biggest bottlenecks as a team and a product and try to prioritize powering up those areas in order to allow our platform to keep growing along with our community.
Let’s talk data – what key metrics do small businesses need to pay attention to and why?
Internal data and keeping customer data safe and usable. Small businesses need to know their customers and their tendencies in order to build products that they want and can understand how to use them. Tracking user flows and tendencies becomes really valuable when your company reaches a point of scale and you can’t physically keep track of each user.
Speaking of metrics and proactive support – digital CS is a hot topic. What metric has been critical to Last Basic from a growth perspective and why?
We are building out our digital CS support currently with Froged and we have learned through trying and testing out various tools, that proactive and transparent communication always helps. Clients want to feel comfortable and we need to earn that trust through proactive communication and honest progress updates. Happy customers are the best metric, but also from an operational perspective, less and more effective customer engagements is a metric that highlights success for us.
How important is collaboration at Last Basic and what is its impact?
Collaboration at LastBasic is the only way we survive and grow. IT’s critical. Our operations team needs to keep feeding our product and marketing teams with customer insights as a foundation for our teams to continuously improve our product and service.
What metrics do you feel get more attention than they need?
Typically marketing metrics that don’t equate to engaged users. Our goal as a business is to keep people engaged on our platform as clients or experts. Website login is useful to see how many users there are, but only when that user does our call to action, then we will know if we are successful or not.
What is the one key learning from your experience developing Last Basic that you feel would be beneficial to share?
Stay close to your customer. Build a team that believes in the why. Don’t be afraid to change a UX when you know it is not working. Technical debt can slow startups down and make them make bad long term decisions.
Who or what companies do you think are leading the way with customer support and why?
Delta airlines: How they managed the pandemic made me a loyal fan based on their customer service approach.
Trader Joes: The proactively ask good questions and connect with their customers in an authentic way.