How Listening To Customers Inspired Our Next-Gen Custom Video Player

There’s often an underlying aspect of a job, a field of study, or a favorite hobby that really resonates with us. As anyone who’s discovered such a driving force knows, a specific passion can lead you on a winding life journey.

In my case, I discovered my “passion” while studying architecture at university in South Africa. Over time I realized that, while I enjoyed my studies, my attraction to the field was actually grounded in my love of creative problem solving; I liked tackling complex problems that require innovative solutions.

Around the time I recognized this fact about myself, it was becoming more and more clear that the wave of the future would be software. I found myself drawn to developing digital solutions, because they require the same problem solving skills I’d used in my architecture studies.

So I dove into the world of software and never looked back.

Over the years, I’ve led multiple tech teams in a variety of industries, and my career eventually led me to New Zealand. That’s where I discovered and fell in love with Pushpay.

Our company melds a start-up’s excited energy with an experienced and accomplished team. Today, I proudly serve as a Group Product Manager, and my team continues to creatively solve problems for a body that is eager to explore and embrace technology—the Church.

Church Tech’s More Popular Than Ever

Pushpay’s annual State of Church Technology report surveys thousands of church leaders every year, from ministries of every size and across all branches of Christianity. In 2022, 94% of those leaders reported that technology was important to their mission—which is actually an increase since the pandemic, when many churches raced to acquire tech solutions to solve the problem of maintaining connection and community while social distancing.

It’s safe to say, churches have recognized technology’s usefulness and aren’t abandoning their tools anytime soon. But there’s some nuance to the situation as well; the report indicated that leaders are more knowledgeable than ever about which digital tools they need, which they could live without—and, critically, what they want to see in the future.

One feature, “tools in multiple languages,” is a telling example. In the report, when given a list of twenty common church tech solutions and asked to identify which would be strategically important in the future, multi language functionality ranked fourth. But when asked how satisfied they were with their current multi language tools, the ranking dropped all the way down to eighteenth.

Put another way; churches aren’t happy with the current state of the language tools they’re using, but they’re exceedingly confident those features will be mission critical moving forward. Which tells product managers like me how they want to see their tech evolve, and which products and features my team should prioritize.

In that spirit, Pushpay is rapidly developing our multi language tools. Giving users can currently toggle between English and Spanish, and our LEAD app—designed for church leaders on the go—can now be viewed in Spanish and Vietnamese.

We’re planning to deliver even more language functionality in the future, because we’re committed to listening to and answering the needs of those we serve.

We Don’t Just Talk About Innovation, We Live It

Another case study for innovating parallel to the Church’s evolving needs is livestreaming. The tool had been slowly gaining traction with leaders for over a decade—then absolutely skyrocketed in popularity during the pandemic. According to the latest State of Church Technology report, even with the worst of COVID behind us, 89% of churches today continue to livestream worship services. They’ve recognized the many ways streaming can foster connection and engagement in their communities, and have no intention of abandoning video content.

So we responded to the trend. About two years ago, Pushpay acquired Resi Media, a powerful streaming solution that’s tailored to the needs of churches. It was a huge moment for both teams, especially on the product side.

The early integration of our two platforms was intentionally patient. Our instructions were to avoid rushing, to start small and ensure we get the job done right. That process paid dividends, and we were able to deliver results for customers quickly and with minimal stumbles.

At the same time, however, we were hearing constantly from leaders about the desire for more customizable video experiences. Many churches had already generated extensive content libraries; they wanted the ability to curate playlists for their viewers, and have that content be available 24/7. Essentially, they wanted to host a viewing experience that mirrored the format of platforms consumers are already accustomed to.

Trust me when I say, that is the opposite of a small undertaking. Especially when the partnership between our two companies was so new, and our teams had been specifically instructed to take it slow.

But the demand was overwhelming and, first and foremost, we work to serve our customers and the Church. So I was given permission to put together a small team outside our normal workflow, whose mission was to innovate and experiment, explore what was realistically possible, and create a proof of concept designed specifically to meet the wants and needs we were hearing about.

The result, I’m proud to say, is Resi On Demand. This exciting tool, available in the near future, will provide the content hosting functionality and customization features churches have been waiting for, and will be a fantastic engagement driver for tech-minded ministries.

We Build Better Together

Many companies and product development teams wouldn’t have greenlit the project I just described. There was already a plan in place for slowly, steadily integrating Pushpay and Resi’s existing solutions. Concurrently developing an entirely new content distribution system was a major pivot.

The reason we were uniquely able to develop this needed tool so quickly is the same reason I joined Pushpay all those years ago: our culture.

“Innovation” is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot. Often it’s misconstrued as an excuse to fool around—and that’s the spirit of the word, I suppose. But innovation doesn’t deliver value if it’s not intentionally aiming at solving a need.

That’s why we listen to those we serve. Customers were involved at every stage of Resi On Demand’s development. We heard their wants and concerns, learned a lot, and developed based on their direction.

I figured out a long time ago that we’re always going to build something better together than apart; this achievement is further proof of that idea. And speaking as someone who’s dedicated their career to creating solutions that fill a need, I can’t wait to be directed by our present and future customers toward what they want us working on next.


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