Your interactions with customers are mediated by software

Marc Andreesan recently wrote a Wall Street Journal article entitled Why Software is Eating the World. He argues that

“My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.  More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense.” 

Businesses’ relationship with their customers are already, and will increasingly be, mediated by software.   While very important, for many of us this thesis is pretty obvious.  Some of its implications may be less obvious.

Interactions with software can be measured

In recent blog, Mark Suster makes an interesting point about the process of understanding and making use of the full benefits  a new technology: 

“Every generation of new technology and new media starts out by emulating those that came before them without realizing that things are fundamentally different when you change media types. Early TV programs featured people sitting in chairs and reading scripts as though they were on the radio. Early online newspapers and magazines were merely digital versions of their physical self.”

There is sometimes a belief that that interactions mediated through software result in less customer knowledge and service.  Person, please.  How many times have I annunciated this clearly, if less nicely, into the IVR system.

But one of the things that is fundamentally different about an online service is that you can measure everything, every aspect of every interaction.  By doing so you have the opportunity to deeply understand how your customers are engaging with you and leverage that knowledge to better serve them.  This can mean incremental improvement but it can also mean orders of magnitude better service than would have been possible before.

Know your customers and serve them .... better

Mark Suster talks about how much more Amazon knows about you then Nordstrom’s in-store sales person and how much better a job Amazon does in serving you:

“Think about it, when you shop at Nordstrom they should know as much about you as Amazon does when you’re shopping online. The online world uses cookies and link-tracking to know who you are and where you’ve come from. They know what you bought the last time you were shopping. They recommend up-sells and cross-sells of products.  Nordstrom sales reps are trained to do this to, but of course they can’t know every customer that walks around the store.”

Choosing Amazon doesn’t represent a choice between efficiency and personalized customer service.  It is a choice for both.

I find that of the many online services with whom I speak and work, everyone understands this opportunity inherent in measuring customer interaction and engagement and using that knowledge to improve the service and serve customers better.   We are building Apptegic to help you realize this opportunity.