Full digitalization of the customer experience in analogue, real-world businesses often poses as not just a business opportunity, but an opportunity to streamline the customer’s experience with the service. The impulse response to this kind of scenario is thinking it’s necessary to build a software solution up from scratch, and wholly on your own.
Sometimes collaborating on a digital software solution with other suppliers who can offer integrations that are already available is a totally underestimated way of working. It’s a powerful way of working that comes with positive results on all fronts (customer, client, and delivery), but it’s not without challenges.
The full digitalization of Sesam Self Storage’s customer experience is one project Reeinvent has collaborated on with multiple partners to make one well-rounded and seamless solution a reality.
Working on a software solution that is fully digitalized, with the help of several partners for integrations, has its technical difficulties. Sesam Self Storage uses a variety of integrations today: unit-related integrations (a booking inventory system and lock management system), integrations related to tenant’s security (Creditsafe and BankID), as well as finance-related integrations (Swedbank for service payment by the customer and financial bookkeeping tools for business management’s use).
What’s so tough about it?
With so many integrations at interplay, one great challenge in working on this type of project is handling immature APKs and underdeveloped APIs. There isn’t always a guarantee that the supplier will provide without their own speed bumps, like outages, updates, and improvements affecting our own testing process. Underdeveloped APIs and APKs on the supplier side also poses communication challenges and misunderstandings due to changes in the supplier’s change in workflow or business structure.
Another technical challenge in working on a fully digitalized solution with multiple integrations are working with integrations that are localized to a different region. BankID, an electronic identification system widely used in Sweden, is one example of such. Testing security measures is rarely obstacle-free, and trying to replicate identification processes outside the region of its intended use is truly challenging, but not insurmountable. Understanding the advanced technological and technical systems of another country and region is difficult as well, but doing so aids in furthering the solution with localized integrations.
The final challenge seen in working on a project with complex integrations is, undoubtedly, quality assurance. Setting up a mirrored environment of the client’s business flow and customer experience with so many integrations is not an easy task. Ensuring the testing environment is an accurate reflection of the everyday user experience over 2,000 kilometers away from the real-life environment is one struggle. And emulating and troubleshooting real-time customer issues in the live environment when we are not there physically, is another ballgame entirely.
Achieve success despite the difficulty.
These are a lot of challenges to overcome, but they are definitely not showstoppers for development and for achieving the vision of a seamless solution with complex integrations.
Dealing with immature APKs and underdeveloped APIs don’t have to affect the development process. Collaborating with the supplier developers for bug resolution is simple if you strive on with fast and persistent communication. In-tandem development is another excellent way of surmounting this point of issue. By updating the client’s software in accordance with inevitable supplier software updates and integration certificate updates, you can adapt to changes on the supplier’s side.
Working with localized integrations is oftentimes necessary, but by learning more about them from the experience of our own Swedish colleagues, we can grasp a better understanding of these technologies and provide an implementation full of more insight: How does BankID work? How do organization numbers work? Finding parallel analogies to increase understanding of the technology is a great help. Reading up on documentation which is already available for Creditsafe, for example, widens our own knowledge about the integrations that are widely-used today, regardless of where they are situated.
Until cloning environments and objects becomes a reality, the only accurate way to replicate a customer’s production environment is with a mirrored test environment that is as accurate as possible. Visiting Sesam Self Storage’s facilities in Lund and Helsingborg earlier this year throughout the different building phases was the ideal opportunity to both gain a better understanding of the integrations in place and to emulate a typical customer visit. Regular video calls with colleagues visiting the facilities to see the whole booking flow, unit sharing, and unit unlocking flow in action proved indispensable.
Re-inventing the wheel isn’t a must.
Sometimes a solution built completely from scratch would only further complicate already complex systems, and working with third parties is a simpler solution in all scenarios. Relying on third-party integrations can help expand business and streamline encapsulation of the full customer journey. Taking this story of our firsthand experience with you, you might find that the setbacks are not insurmountable and the success that follows is indeed worth the challenges!