Creating an excellent user experience is crucial in coworking software, especially for growing spaces. A well-designed coworking experience minimizes friction, entices members to interact and makes it easy for them to book and pay for services. Ultimately it will boost coworking space utilization and profits.
What is User Experience at a Coworking Space?
User experience is an invisible hand that pushes all users towards making the right choices from the first to the last touchpoint with your coworking business.
Ask yourself a question:
— “Do I want my coworking business to succeed?”
— “Of course I do” — echoes your inner self without much hesitation.
To succeed in your coworking space business, you must understand your customer journey. How do they first experience your brand? What is their journey from finding a shared workspace online, to contacting sales, purchasing a membership, using meeting and office space and even leaving?
An integral part of virtually any business, a software will accompany coworking space client at every step of their journey. Search on Google or Coworker, email to get in touch, pay with PayPal or Stripe link, book a meeting room, or apply for membership benefit — there’s an app for every step of the way.
When it comes to software, a common source of poor user experience is coworking space community managers and owners considering only their own convenience. Often co-working spaces use software not designed for a particular purpose, like Google Calendar for meeting room booking, simply because it’s free. Some opt-in for coworking software bloated with features, forgetting that members don’t have time to figure out complicated apps. Some spaces are so focused on the manager’s convenience that they forget to prepare mobile apps for members, most of whom live in motion. Some spaces decide to build their own in-house software, and often disregard or completely forget about user experience.
User experience is not just a user interface
Sure, the visuals matter a lot. User experience extends beyond the coworking software, so user interface of your coworking app is not the only thing to consider. Often coworking spaces adopt solutions for meeting room booking that are not designed for with that purpose in mind. Take, for instance, the Google Calendar mentioned above for meeting room bookings. Sure, the interface is familiar and easy to use, but it allows us to create two reservations at the same time in the same room. Two coworkers arguing who needs the place the most is not a great experience. The best coworking software allows to avoid overlapping booking, accidental deletion of reservations, and even sends a push notification to remind of upcoming booking to minimize abandoned booking.
User experience requires research
It’s a science of human behavior and interaction, so don’t expect you can build a great app by yourself without spending a mini-fortune and iterating regularly. Human behavior is complex, as are the interfaces that adapt to it, trying to minimize the friction between human and machine. Without great UX you’re basically handing your customers to your competition, but having a great UX is expensive and time consuming.
User experience is continuously evolving
So let’s imagine you invested thousands into building your own coworking space apps. The apps are published to the store, and members are happy for now. Just five years ago, it was possible to fill up a spacious flexible desk area with nomads and freelancers. Nowadays, as the flexible working industry matures, small and medium companies started to move in, with a different set of needs and behavioral patterns. These new private office residents need meeting rooms, lounge zones, and other infrastructure, which your coworking app simply can’t handle. This kind of shifts happen all the time, and you need to be ready for a change.
After reading the above points, you probably thought that you already knew some if not all of them. There is a huge gap, however, between knowing and actually practicing.
Why is User Experience Essential for My Coworking Space?
Great user experience is vital to build trust between you and the customer. Inconsistent, complicated and uninspiring processes do not contribute to building trust with clients. In contrast, streamlined processes that are free of clutter help establish a strong connection with your target customer, reinforce your brand and achieve higher levels of customer loyalty and retention.
The user experience of your coworking space directly impacts profitability. Only about half of all coworking spaces in the world are profitable. 53% of coworking spaces plan to focus on growing profits in 2019. Chances are, if you’re reading this, profitability is one of your concerns. If that is the case, work on coworking member experience following the tips below and see your profits improve.
How to Ensure an Excellent Experience in My Coworking Space
Every user experience improvement starts with collecting data. You can make diagrams, flowcharts, or a simple list — it all comes down to mapping out every step of your customer’s way from A to Z. Next time you have a new customer visiting your website, try to document and record all the details of their interaction with your space: what they click, how they get in touch, visit, sign up, and so on.
Example: payments. You issue an invoice to a customer, and they receive it by email. Chances are, the invoice email will be lost behind the horizon of inbox events. A customer doesn’t feel comfortable being reminded to pay, much like the whole process of a bank transfer. This often results in delays to collect your revenue, one of the most common issues among coworking spaces. Specialized billing software allows members to pay for your services in-app, instantly and without frustrations, and is an obvious choice to improve customer user experience.
Nobody likes to wait. Researchers report that when a customer visits your coworking space website, you have precisely 10 seconds to convince them to stay. If a member needs to spend over 20-30 seconds to make a meeting room reservation, it’s time to upgrade your coworking software. Measure every step of the way to identify where members experience friction and eliminate it. Ideally, your goal is to make routine processes disappear, invisible so that coworkers only focus on their own tasks.
Example: meeting room booking. How can members have a great meeting experience faster, perhaps even without having to look for the app? Some coworking spaces mount meeting room displays at the door to signal room availability at a distance, improving convenience and saving time to find an available room. Members can instantly see which meeting room is available, and book it right away, saving previous time on figuring it out in the app.
This is where your deep understanding of the data you collected and measured comes into play. Identify what needs to be improved, and consider it together with the previous and the following steps. Think of how each journey moment intertwines online and offline, and go through it yourself.
Example: benefit applications. Coworking spaces offer membership benefits and perks as a reward to subscribers. Usually, it takes 3-4 days to receive a benefit, because a benefit provider needs to exchange several emails with coworking member for approval. Before blaming a provider, take one step before — a TV or a booklet showing off a catalog of member benefits. What if we replace this step with an in-app coworking benefit catalog that allows members just to press “apply” and get a benefit within a couple of hours because all the information necessary for approval is auto-sent to a provider? Sometimes taking a step back helps to streamline the process altogether.
Towards a Successful Coworking Business
Whether your coworking space aims to be a profitable business or socially valuable enterprise, your understanding of your customer user experience will be crucial to your success. Building a great user experience isn’t a mission impossible, and would undoubtedly help you create a sustainable business that helps people find workspace they’ll love.
So, ask yourself a question:
— “Do I want my coworking business to succeed?”
Igor Dzhebyan is the CEO and co-founder of andcards coworking software for boosting the profitability of coworking spaces across the globe. Follow him on Facebook and add him as a connection on Linkedin.