What Matters More to You: Developer or Customer Needs?

Rolling out a product? The key is knowing what your customers actually need and not what the software development team thinks they need.

Delivering the right products and feature sets that your customers need is the ultimate challenge when it comes to giving them the best digital experience, but the key is rolling out what your customers actually need and not what the software development team thinks they need.

My healthcare provider rolled out a great new portal, yet it took 10 minutes to find the “call my doctor” feature simply to make an appointment. While making a phone call might be the last scenario in the workflow for telephony or help center customers, it’s a top priority in healthcare. From an engineering standpoint, the backend design may be better, more efficient and organized, but to the customer, you may have missed the mark. Many times, a priority for software development teams may not be a priority for the end user.

Is This Feature Even Necessary for the Customer?

Further, as dev teams sprint faster and faster, sometimes they find themselves in auto-pilot in order to make those frequent and looming deadlines. However, if we stop for a moment to understand the customer, every one of those product or feature deployments may not actually be necessary. Most likely, not all deployments make sense from a product, cost or efficiency standpoint. How do software development teams determine when a deployment is not actually necessary? How do they determine if they are delivering on what the customer really needs, wants, or will be delighted with?

Here are three factors to turn to when determining to deploy or not to deploy:

Related Article: What’s Your Digital Customer Experience Strategy for Out-of-Stock Products?

1. Define Customer Value

When deploying a product or feature, delivering value to your customer should be paramount. First, how do you define what they value? Before you can determine if you are delivering value, you need to understand what is meaningful to your customers.

This past winter, a co-worker of mine was driving her Tesla in the Boston area shortly after the clean automotive giant rolled out a software update. Half way through her drive, all the windows fogged up. She couldn’t figure out where the defrost button had gone. The user interface screens had all been updated and the button that had been convenient and easy to find had disappeared. She had to pull over to the side of the road, swipe through multiple screens, and pull out her phone and do a Google search. Several minutes later, she was able to figure out how to de-fog the windows.

I’m guessing this re-design was implemented by a software designer on the West Coast, perhaps looking at customer data from the West, where the defrost function isn’t used all that much. So, when re-prioritizing high usage buttons, the defrost button was not flagged as a top priority.

BUT in reality, defrosting is a capability that has huge customer value due to its safety characteristic. When you are fogged up, regardless of where you live or how often this happens, it is imperative that you can defog. By reevaluating and interpreting the usage data with customer value in mind, you make the correct deployment decisions.

You can’t deliver on your customers’ needs if you don’t consider and review what they are.

Related Article: What’s Your Ideal Voice of the Customer Approach?

2. Use Customer Data and Methodologies to Prioritize

Using all-encompassing customer data to learn about product usage, limitations and universality of what you are building allows you to prioritize which products and features to deliver. Customer data is most useful to determine what features to deliver next. The best products aren’t built in a vacuum. As you start to understand through the data what the customer needs and what’s valuable to them, adopt methodologies that allow you to scale your work to build the right product.

Whether you have a penchant for API-first or you are a Cucumber Open Behavior Driven Development (BDD) enthusiast, using process or approach to designing products, APIs or microservice is imperative. When organizations abide by the methodology, it allows the team to meet their customers where they are as well as delight them with innovations and fun.

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