Customers Are Not Your Enemy

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Our Front-End developers have got together with Customer Service to create a “Stupid-Customers” slack channel. The disdain that software developers have for those that ultimately pay their bills is both destructive and unsurprising giving the culture we work in.

If you don’t deliver both a great product and great service, you’ll get found out. It will be noticed and will catch up with you in the end. Creating that great product and great service starts with respect for your customer.

In the store

Yeah, I went shopping for a shirt recently. One of my favorite signs in a clothing store showed the following:

No refunds

No returns

No trying

I mean, I don’t know how you would ever know if the clothes happen to fit you or not. I also don’t know why you would shop there as I certainly wouldn’t.

Yet this week I bought a faulty appliance, and was happily told that the item wasn’t the companies responsibility as soon as it left the premises. The company didn’t get away with that, and a refund from head office (and more) was soon in my account. More damaging to them will be the complaints on Twitter, and the review websites that mark them out as a company who don’t deliver the products consumers expect.

They didn’t respect their customers, and I doubt they will be in business for much longer.

In Software Development

The culture

I don’t think it started with Steve Jobs telling iPhone 4 users that “You’re holding it wrong!”, but the arrogance of software developers thinking that they are a class above users is a longstanding issue.

There is often talk at our place of users not “getting it”, or surprise that the product isn’t used in the way developers think. There is push back from the developers about who is “wrong”, and believe me it is never them.

Software developers seldom admit weakness, as the pressure to be smart and a 10x developer leaves little room for learning or development. Admitting customers might have the answers puts software developers in a vulnerable position in many organizational cultures.

This is a problem because customers generally have the answers to the problems we face as software developers. Problem solvers should look for solutions from anywhere they can, rather than thinking that they automatically have all of the answers themselves.

Listen to your users

If you are logging your FE crashes, do you blame the device the user has? Or, perhaps worse, look at the number of crashes and think it doesn’t need resolving if it only affects a large proportion of the user base you might well be making a mistake. A crash is a terrible user experience, and might even point to other problems with the product.

The places I’ve worked for battle so hard to get good reviews, but I’ve seen a worrying behavior when negative reviews impact a product (or a company on Glassdoor). Outweigh the negative reviews with many good (whether real or not), by such a large factor that the negative reviews no longer matter.

The problem? It doesn’t seem honest to create only positive reviews, but that doesn’t get to the heart of this. The firms aren’t listening to their customers and aren’t understanding what those customers want. Negative reviews give a strong signal about what might be an issue with a product or service. Companies spend the big bucks on obtaining data that can help improve their products.

Look at the black-spot maps for mobile networks to get a feel of what I mean. They don’t represent the quality of service you might expect in an area, and are likely there to simply give security that there is some service in populated areas. Then what do you think that those customers do to the reputation of that company over time, repeatedly.

Come on people. We can do better.

About The Author

Professional Software Developer “The Secret Developer” can be found on Twitter @TheSDeveloper and regularly publishes articles through Medium.com

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A top software developer who has worked for some of the biggest tech companies (yes, that one too) reveals the stories behind Big Tech and software engineering.

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The Secret Developer

The Secret Developer

A top software developer who has worked for some of the biggest tech companies (yes, that one too) reveals the stories behind Big Tech and software engineering.

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