By Mike Althoff, Director of Customer and Member Success, K4Connect – Imagine that today is your daughter’s 16th birthday.  Up to this point, you’ve never said anything to her about driving — she’s never asked (and frankly, never learned) how to drive.  You take her outside when she wakes up, and a new hatchback is parked in the driveway – red, her favorite color – with a huge bow on top.  “Happy Birthday!”  You throw her the keys, kiss her on the forehead, walk back inside, and cross your fingers.

I hope what you’re currently thinking is, “Disaster!”  She doesn’t know the rules, she hasn’t taken her driving test, she may not even know which pedal is the gas and which is the break!

Luckily this story is fiction, but the concept is very real especially when applied to how companies release new tech products and expect everyone to know how to use it. In this instance, the daughter been given a powerful tool with no education or understanding of the rules, no context about maintenance, and no real clue as to the worlds that can be opened up if only she uses the car correctly.

So often, new technology products and tools are similarly ‘given’ in this way.  With no context for what it really is, no education for how to use it, no training on how to manage it, and an invoice to boot!  At K4Connect, we believe in a different approach for introducing and integrating K4Community into our Customers’ community culture. We will not sell, install, and wave goodbye on the way out.

Instead, we believe in a three-step approach to successfully implementing K4Community.  It starts with identifying the right People to implement and manage the product.  Then, with the People in place, we evaluate, create, and augment Processes that will better facilitate successful use of the product.  Then, and only then, do we introduce the Product, and train on how to use the tool itself.  It is the combination of these three steps, implemented in this order, which enables our Customers to achieve the value that K4Community can bring to their residents, our Members, and their community as a whole.

Before I deep dive into each of these three steps, let’s return to our opening analogy and see if the story makes a bit more sense inside the People – Process – Product paradigm.

Today is your daughter’s 16th birthday.  She’s growing up so fast – and proving herself to be an attentive and responsible person, capable of managing the responsibilities that come with driving a car (People).  She’s already attended Driver’s Ed; got her learners permit the day she was eligible; and after many father-daughter parking lot sessions, she’s really proven she knows how to use a car as well as understands the rules of the road (Process).  You take her outside when she wakes up, and a new hatchback is parked in the driveway – red, her favorite color – with a huge bow on top (Product).  “Happy Birthday!”  You throw her the keys, kiss her on the forehead, walk back inside, and know with confidence a whole new world of possibility has just opened up for her, and she’s ready to take it head on!

People – Who will be Responsible for K4Community?
As much as we as a company might seek to make K4Community the most autonomous and set-it-and-forget-it product possible, at the end of the day, like any useful tool, it requires someone to use it, and manage it.  For new Customers, identifying the right People and empowering them to make your K4Community implementation successful goes a long way in reaching that end.

At each of our Customers, we identify a K4Community Lead who has a few characteristics:

  • Cross-community Team Reach – Identifying someone who has a 360° view of the Resident experience ensures there is a holistic approach to how K4Community is implemented and utilized across the community.
  • Empowerment & Accountability – The K4Community Lead does not need to be a top manager, but should have executive support to ensure each department and team within the community makes the appropriate changes to successfully implement K4Community. Additionally, the K4Community Lead should be held accountable for the implementation so that when changes need to be made, there is a clear path to making them.
  • Missionally Motivated – A successful implementation of K4Community, at the end of the day, requires a commitment to making certain cultural changes or commitments at the community. The K4Community Lead should believe in the mission of K4Connect, and the value proposition of K4Community within their own community.
  • Technologically Interested – We think someone who is excited to learn about technology is a great implementer – the K4Community Lead must believe that technology used in the right way can be a force for good!

After identifying a K4Community Lead – and it’s important to note, the K4Community Lead is not the only person who will use K4Community, but they are the conduit through which all others will – we now have a partner at the Customer level with whom we can work to begin implementing Process.

Process – Making K4Community the System of Record
Most of our Customers are not new construction communities meaning they’re established communities with specific ways of doing things.  The implementation of K4Community will often alter many of these established ways, always with the aim of improving the lives of Members (community residents), their friends and family, as well as the Community staff and associates who support them.

That said, the value of the end goal does not mean change is easy or the path to get there straight.  Establishing Processes by which the K4Community Lead, Executive staff, as well as other community associates will implement K4Community makes that change easier, and at least provides guardrails along the path.

Three areas of focus as we establish Processes include:

  • Designating Responsibilities: With K4Community as the system of record it is important to establish who will manage the community documents, resources, and news; who will maintain the resident directory; who will address maintenance issues when a battery needs to be replaced or a device requires attention. As each Customer has a different organizational structure, we can help identify who should be responsible for which K4Community element and establish goals and expectations.
  • Train Staff & Associates – Those who spend the most time with residents – the front-line staff and associates – are your greatest resource in building a culture around K4Community. If staff and associates know what K4Community is, how it can be utilized as a resource for residents, and are trained on how to use it as they support residents, you now have an army of change makers working to better spread K4Community.
  • Transition Families to K4Community – Keeping family up-to-date with community communication and information is often a continuous challenge, in particular at our Assisted Living Customers. K4Community’s companion Friends and Family App enables a resident’s loved ones to see the Newsletters, Menus, and a current Activities Calendar all at their fingertips.  Transitioning to K4Community requires a team approach, but ultimately provides timely information to family while allowing the community to focus on communicating information once, and ensuring everyone who needs to know the information receives it.

Product – It’s about time!
Okay – so K4Connect is a company that makes a product called K4Community, and it took a 1000 words before this blog post about using K4Community actually mentions using the product!

I get it, that seems counter-intuitive.  But I hope as we’ve reviewed the importance of having the People and the Processes in place, you understand that the Product itself is now much more likely to succeed.

K4Community, the Product, is a lot of things to a lot of “users”:

  • To Members – it is a connected-living platform that enables smart home capabilities in their apartments, gives them a live and direct connection to all things going on in the community, and provides them with a simple, secure way to communicate with friends and loved ones.
  • To Customers and Operators – it is an operational foundation constantly growing and enabling state-of-the-art community amenities and focused on enabling more-efficient and effective operations.
  • To Friends and Family – it is never-before-had digital access to community information as well as, in many cases, a way to bring their loved ones into the digital age on a platform that was built for them.

In each of these cases, we focus on ensuring access to the K4Community application – whether that is providing training on downloading the app with staff, walking through installation with residents over the phone, in-person during install on their personal devices, or remotely managing and maintaining an entire community’s worth of tablets with only the K4Community application.

The ‘Product’ you see, is the means to the K4Connect mission.  We seek to use technology to make lives simpler, healthier, and happier.  We seek to provide a ‘Product’ that doesn’t exist for the sake of being technology, but one that, because it is supported by the right People and the right Processes, is near invisible as a Product.  Then, and only then, does the world of connected-living open up to our Members, and those that support them.