Software needs a customer service focus

One complaint that you often hear from users is that software is difficult to use, or it just doesn’t do what they want it to do. There are many reasons for this. One of which is the developer has to meet their company’s needs. These needs are typically counter to what users want, but I think the other reason for it is that developers don’t typically think of how best to facilitate what the user wants.

This can also be exacerbated by the fact the company does not want to provide a good experience. If you can only watch Disney content on a Disney app, then it doesn’t really matter how good the app is. You have to use it. The walled garden approach definitely does not suit most media.

One thing that would be nice to see is regulation to say that media that is for sale in an app needs to be accessible for any other service to sell. If you could watch Disney content on any streaming service, then you’d likely pick the one that best suits your needs and especially with film / television media no one really wants 10+ streaming apps. More so when half of them are somewhat rubbish.

And there is the thing, as smart as developers might think they are and how valuable they are, when it really comes down to it, the customer does not care about the code. They care about the food that is delivered, the film they want to watch or the package they’re getting delivered.

In terms of what will keep the company afloat, sadly, developers are kind of at the bottom. Your company can easily be replaced by someone who does it better or if all options are a bit poor then people will just bypass you. As illogical as it seems to go back to vinyl or cassettes or even VHS, you see these trends. I’m sure some of that comes about from people wanting to be unique, but I think a lot of it also comes up from being fed up with the hassle of getting music digitally, which should be the best option. When it’s done well, it certainly is the best option in my mind having lived through the record, cassette, CD and minidisc era.

However, this is rarely the case and I think it’s really down to a lack of care about providing good customer service. While unrealistic, it wouldn’t hurt if developer jobs has requirements like 2 years of working in retail alongside the CS degree requirement or something that shows the developer has some sort of experience providing service towards customers.

Take this real-world example from this month. It’s slightly tweaked to protect the innocent.

We've been waiting for this since early 2019. It is needed so we can tell what type of widgets we are looking at in our tools. We cannot even discern the type of Doo-dad correctly. I'm glad we're approaching, maybe investigating the cloud requirements in future iterations.

This isn’t a one-off occurrence. A team that provides the thing the customer often wants needs certain things from the development team. However, the development team simply ignores what their internal customer requires. Frequently for many years, as shown above.

And as expected, when the developer fails, the customer goes somewhere else. These people have taken up doing their own scripting, using Excel and basically any tool that gets the job done because their job, not the code, matters.

But useless project managers and developers sit about and assume they’re the important ones and drive the direction of development.

The result is developers are effectively wasting their time doing things no one particularly cares about. The internal customer is wasting their time developing their own ways to hack together something to get the job done and a hostile environment is created, ensuring less cooperation in the future.

It doesn’t matter if Rust looking new and shiny. What does it do to better the customer’s experience?