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Customer Experience and Design

Is software eating the world? Or, is it really customers?

Part 1 of 2 
Software eating our world
Are software companies poised to “take over large swathes of the economy?” Apparently Marc Andreessen thought so in an article from 2011. I think he is right. Let’s take a quick mental inventory of a few of the major firms running on software and delivered as online services – eBay, Amazon, Pandora, Shutterfly, LinkedIn and Netflix. Each one of these organizations, within their respective industries, has used software (digital services) to gain control over, or seize, sizable market share; and in some cases they’ve pushed top competing firms out of business. Anyone remember Borders or Kodak? Personally, there was a time I thought Monster would always be the juggernaut of recruiting and placing job seekers. Well, I had to smile when recently in an article in Forbes the writer compared Monster to “a 2001 Dodge Neon – a resume repository.” And how is LinkedIn doing? The firm just got an upgrade from Barclays so things seem to be going well for them. I think some of its success stems from robust features for sharing, joining groups, and as a research tool. It’s attracting the best candidates and in turn attracting the best recruiters.
It’s clear that the things we want to do are, more and more, being serviced and provided through software. We have become dependent on software to connect us with our friends and family, to educate us, and for games and shopping. So more companies are focusing on software to deliver customer value through the customer experience. Now this gets interesting. Software is spawning an emerging tension between CIOs and CMOs to tango over spending to reach customers. A prediction from one Gartner analyst (Laura McLellan) is that by 2017 chief marketing officers (CMOs) will out spend CIOs on IT. This spending is on digital marketing along with software. That is the great news. On the flip side – “ehm” – do we (meaning those of us in software) have a solid idea of how this disruption is affecting our customers in the markets we serve? Jeffrey Bussgang of the Harvard Business School says, “…Marketing leaders and agencies now carry the burden of understanding technology’s impact on their business, the entire customer experience…to win market share.” 
Of course winning market share in an industry is a big deal. Simply put, it indicates that more customers buy your product(s) over other firms’ offerings. I dummied that down but my point is that in today’s connected markets it’s trickier to gain and keep customers but just as important as ever before. Within our XD (Experience Design) practice, we see first-hand how hyper-competitive it is to do business, due largely to social commerce, a growing global design consciousness, and endless product and service offerings. To be in a position of strength for new clients, or to continuously delight current ones, we help our clients understand how to track and measure the customer experience (CX) often called the user experience (UX).
Interestingly, many firms routinely measure customer satisfaction. However, it is not the same as measuring the CX. From a Bain & Company survey of 362 companies, “only 8 percent of customers describe their experience as superior, yet 80 percent of companies believe the experience they provide is indeed superior.” The smart software firms (any firms really) go beyond tracking customer satisfaction ratings and track the reasons why customers are satisfied or dissatisfied.
Look for Part 2 next week –– The customer experience and software

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Lisa McMichael

Lisa McMichael is a Senior Manager Digital Accessibility, CPACC with the Detroit Business Unit.

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