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Asking What Matters Most in User Experience: Alister Maple-Brown

Week 15: As part of Transform Masters 2017, we spoke with Alister Maple-Brown, CEO of Rockend, about user experience.

Transform Masters 2017 is brought to you with thanks to our sponsors Property Tree, and Real+

In this exclusive interview brought to you by Transform Masters 2017, Alister Maple-Brown, CEO of Rockend, talks about user experience, trends in customer expectations and the future of property management.



Alister: I’m Alister Maple-Brown, I’m the CEO at Rockend.

Q. What is user experience?

Alister: User experience can take on so many different angles. We look at user experience in the first instance of how our customers, our users, the people using our software, how they interact with software. Where the buttons sit, what the buttons do, the workflow. That’s the first very tangible part of user experience. But because we’re also a broader service provider, the user experience is the experience they have interacting with us at all points through that process.

Q. What trends are you seeing in user expectations?

Alister: Consumers continually want for things to happen quicker, for things to happen on their terms, not on the terms of when they’re being told, and how you leverage all of the resources around you to make that happen. They are some of the trends from sort of a service perspective. People want access to information. They want it quickly. They want things to just happen. Everything should happen quicker than what it’s happening right now.

I think there are significant trends around integration. People don’t expect to have a one size fits all in the world of technology today. There’s a great bit of IP, intellectual property, or software over here, there’s a great piece over here. If they work together, you get a far greater result, ultimately automating processes and saving time.

Q. How should property managers respond to these trends?

Alister: We can all assume because we’re around our customers all the time, and we believe we know what’s really important. But unless we specifically ask the question and ask it in a way that doesn’t lead them down a path. We ask a very simple straight forth question about what matters to them. That’s the starting point because then it’s based on that feedback that you can then change processes or you can then look at the people that are in your business and work out how they will then interact either correctly or incorrectly with the people and what they wanted.

Q. How will AI impact the future of property management?

Artificial intelligence is a big word, means a lot of different things to different people. The simplest example I always like to use is Siri or Cortana voice recognition. You say something, they will translate that, that will work out exactly what you want. A lot of the time they get it right. Some of the times they don’t. But every time you do it, it is learning.

Because the property management industry specifically is a game of communication and whoever communicates best provides a great service, there are so many areas where people want information and they don’t necessarily want to do it all digitally on screens and all that sort of stuff. They may want to use their voice to interact. We’re not seeing it today in this property management space, but as I said, six to 12 months, there will absolutely be areas where those communication processes are fast tracked, improved and that’ll be using voice.

Q. How does Rockend measure user experience?

We obviously take a lot of feedback in terms of the areas of the software that are working well, the areas of the software that need improvement. We also take people out into offices and we sit next to them and we watch them do their work. We don’t say anything. We don’t ask them, “Can you do this? Can you do that?” We just watch what they do. Not only is it watching what they do in the program or the software, but it’s also what they do outside of the software to help them get a job done. We have to always come back to asking ourselves the core question of, “What is the end user trying to do?” But then we go one further and we say, “Why is the end user trying to do that? What is it that their end user, their customer, wants from them? How we can potentially circumvent the whole process in some way so that that task actually manages?”

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