I’ve often said, “There is software in everything.” You can’t buy gas without software. You can’t drive a car without software. You can’t book a flight without software. The plane can’t fly without software. You can’t make a phone call. You can’t pop your microwave popcorn. You can’t even order coffee without software.
Last Friday I was grabbing an early morning flight out of Salt Lake City and I had to have my coffee. I went to Starbucks and overheard the pain of the barista describing her morning with broken software. “The computers were down for 2 hours this morning.” I asked her, “So what was it like?” She described the painful process of having to manually write down every sale, manually key-in the credit card transactions, and then catch-up on all those transactions once the computers were working again.
Your company’s customer experience is defined by your software. The previous blog post gave a tale of two experiences, one good, one bad. The message was: It is perilous to ignore how your software makes your customers feel.
Marc Andressen described it well in a recent essay in The Wall Street Journal on “Why Software is Eating the World”:
Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.
There are many companies, like Starbucks, who focus on creating the best possible customer experience they can. The layout of the stores, the training of the staff, even the language they use around their products. All of this can be destroyed in a moment by poorly working software.
The customer doesn’t even have to touch the software for the software to destroy the experience.
If the customer-facing employees of a company are frustrated by the software they use to transact business, that frustration will spill over into the customer experience. The customer may not even know why they walked away feeling like they had a bad experience.
We stated many years ago that our mission is “…to end human suffering in the world as it relates to technology.™” It’s time for every organization to contemplate how their software can be used to enhance or maybe even define their customer experience. Those that have understood this have succeeded wildly in the past few years: Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Google, and Groupon, to name a few. We can probably all name companies who are equally defined by their software experience, albeit in a negative way. Those companies have either struggled or died.
Other than employees and investors, few mourn their passing.