3 Unexpected Ways Software Can Make the Customer Experience Better

Dec 27, 2019 by Matt Dixon

Software is all around us. In our day to day work lives, we use software to help us do our job. Your organization is no different.

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Here are three ways software can improve the customer experience.

1. Better Customer-Facing Software

Every company has customer-facing software. It is essential in today's world. The two main types of customer-facing software are web sites and mobile applications. The features and capabilities of these applications are different for each organization, but they all have at least a website.

Your website is the first thing any potential customer sees. It should be clean, organized, and provide all the information and features your customers need. Most people may not think of a website as software, it's just a website. A website is definitely software. It can range from simple and informational, to a complex feature-rich application. If you are running a hotel, or a retail shop, your website should be an easy place to book a room or purchase a product for sale.

A mobile app is another piece of customer-facing software. These apps exist to help your customers perform tasks for themselves. When booking a hotel, would you rather call the toll free number, or book through their app or website? Most people would choose the app or website. It's much easier for the customer to coordinate a flight, hotel, and rental car online instead of calling three different people.

Mobile and web applications are a big win for customers. It is a quicker way to focus on doing business with your organization. The main purpose of these two pieces of software is to improve the customer experience. That is the only purpose. With that in mind, here are some questions you should ask:

  • Is the website intuitive?
  • Does the website work on a mobile device?
  • What feedback have we received about the website and mobile app from our customers?
  • When was the last time your organization performed an audit of your mobile app and website?

2. Back-Office Applications

A back-office application is an application that employees use to help the business run smoothly. Some applications are only for internal purposes (think workflow type activities), and other applications are used to help customers. This software is either off the shelf, customized commercial software, or completely custom software. Often there are several systems with varying levels of customization, along with custom software that glues everything together.

I remember a scene in the movie "Meet the Parents". The main character is at the airport, changing his return flight to leave as soon as possible. The airline employee is typing non-stop to find the soonest available flight. Finally, she informs him that there is a flight available, but the fee to change the return flight is exorbitant.

This is a perfect example of a back-office application that provides a poor user experience. While this example is exaggerated, there are many times where the software employees are using causes a delay for the customer. These applications should be fast, easy to use, and reliable.

Think of a hotel scenario. A typical scenario would be a visitor calls the hotel after a reservation has been made, and needs to extend their stay one additional night. The best option is to build that into your booking system. The second best option is to have a solid back-office application that quickly finds their reservation. What if the system saw the number the customer was calling from and looked up their reservation automatically. On the screen would be the reservation without having to search at all. Extending their stay would then take a matter of seconds from there. 

3. Integrating All Your Systems

Recently, I took a business trip to attend a conference. I booked a hotel through a third party website which will remain nameless. The flight landed at almost 1 AM local time, and I called the hotel for a shuttle. Once we got to the hotel, I tried to check-in. The front desk clerk/shuttle driver told me my room was unavailable because the hotel was overbooked. The third-party website didn't actually verify that the room was available. It sells a pre-determined number of hotel rooms regardless of availability. This is typically not an issue, but in this case, there were several conferences at the same time. One of the conferences was an "Ice Cream Conference". That sounds fun.

The only way to ensure this doesn't happen again is through integration. Without getting into the weeds, there needs to be some communication between the third party booking website and the hotel. That would have avoided my issue.

Every organization has different integration needs. A hotel will have different integration points from an insurance company. The main objective of system integration is to have one place data is stored and provide easy access to that data. Simple, but not always easy.

The benefit for the customer is that a hotel room is available when the system says it is available, or that a product is not listed in-stock when it is actually on back-order. Customers are savvy and want to know if the room or product is available. Tell them the truth and they will thank you for it.

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