Software Executive Magazine

August/September 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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Goldfish, Customers, Attention Span customers or because they are mean, but because they expect their customers to know the product like they do. Ask if your company can: ▶ Reduce the complexity of getting to the end goal (Can the steps be reduced?) ▶ Increase ease of use (How obvious is the path?) ▶ Change the type of customer support (Is it time to retire those FAQs and How To videos that talk about features? Instead, reflect real-life customer use cases.) These are not quick things to figure out. These are pur- poseful quests filled with thought about the actual prob- lems. The goal is getting to the root of what the product does and meshing it with what customers will actually do so well that customers want to come back to your product over and over. CHALLENGE THE GOLDFISH The thing is, there is something to the concept of a gold- fish's attention span, even if it's just something we heard and believed. It is unrealistic to expect our customers to try harder than we do to use the product, or even know the product as well as we do. The action we can take is to ask questions to find ways to improve within our orga- nization so we can improve for our customers and our stakeholders. Here are the four questions: 1. What are our assumptions? In conversations, we hear things like, "We've tried that and it didn't work", or "That won't get us what we need." Assumptions also show up in what we don't hear be- cause something is blatantly ignored. 2. What do our assumptions mean to our business? Our organizational culture's assumptions directly affect profitability and sustainability of the company. 3. What do we need to decide so that we can create an impact? Identify the problem — what's below the symptoms, the immediate pain we are experiencing in the busi- ness. Those problems can be considered in regard to available time and resources as well as priority (the potential impact). 4. How will we lead the change? Rarely do single actions make a lasting change. It's through repetition and consistency that we tackle some- thing that requires change for lasting results. Surpassing the goldfish's attention span is a business advantage, because while it's easy to do, it requires a lot of effort. Truly think about how to best serve our custom- ers the way they use our products within the attention span we get. S roven product development revolves around three concepts in this order: make it work, make it right, make it fast — and then repeat. The lesson here is how we take product de- velopment and mesh it with the ever-rising bar of cus- tomer expectations. The process is (almost) the same. MAKE IT WORK & MAKE IT RIGHT Our customers expect something they download to work according to their perspective. All the messages we've heard about first impressions we give when we meet someone apply to software today. Goldfish officially have longer attention spans than hu- mans. Or do they? There has never been a study of how long a goldfish's attention span is, contrary to popular belief (search for "Marketing has its own fake news prob- lem" by Jason Miller). What we do know is that our attention span is decreas- ing, and we have less time to make a connection with people than ever before. When it comes to customers, they will not give a prod- uct a second look. Potential customers will just look for something else altogether. We have one chance to make people open our app or come back to our site. Just take a peek in your password software; how many of those sites do you actually use? We are not immune to this reality. MAKE IT FAST This doesn't mean fix and add and update fast. It means make the output of the product fast. Fast as in load and response times. Fast as in intuitive to use. Many of the companies I work with provide horrid customer service. Not because they don't care about P J E S S I C A D E W E L L J E S S I C A D E W E L L is a nationally recognized business development tactician with over 20 years of experience. She is the founder of Red Direction and Infusion Principle, specializing in client retention, improving customer experience, product development, market reach, talent management, organizational procedures, and building teams. She also serves as the president of the Association of Software Professionals. & LEADERSHIP LESSONS Insights By J. Dewell GOLDFISH, CUSTOMERS, & ATTENTION SPAN SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 42

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