Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Build Customer-Facing Application Successfully

The next practice is to live as "customers."

Customer-facing applications are critical as at the end of the day they generate revenue for the business. If there is an outage it normally has a direct impact on revenue and consequently attention of the top management. But how to build and launch a successful team to provide first level support for an external customer facing application?

Normal practice is to divide support into three levels: The first line is to first contact and require people with good customer service skills who can empathize with the client and quickly engender trust. The second line is usually about supporting the infrastructure running the application, and on the third line, it’s about the people who create the software. Assuming you have enough people in the team, and it’s a good practice in rotating people between the levels. For example, poor customer experience at the third level can destroy all the good work at the first level. For this reason, the line should be empowered to own and manage the problem end to end as the customer's advocate.

The next practice is to live as "customers": Some say it is the age of empathy. The more difficult challenge is not just launching a successful team, but maintaining their motivation and focus. Point out that customer inquiries are not just support related, but can foster new and better ways the application can perform and optimize every touch point of customer experience. 

Put emphasis on the first line of customer contact a) put your best team members in your first line of contact b) they should have a good understanding and appreciation of the business processes c) fully aware of the organization structure and who is responsible for what - both infrastructure and applications d) The app teams should have access to the senior people to whom escalation can be made to resolve challenges within the SLA. 

Governance and metrics: Transparent metrics and self-improvement tools have provided great value. Regular governance session with the business stakeholders and vendors (analyzing KPIs and SLAs) involved would help. Also, avoid "analysis paralysis." because people are uncertain about their ability to make decisions so they focus on obtaining more information. This opinion, therefore, leads to the symptom that people who suffer from "analysis paralysis" are not confident about making decisions. It takes both intuition and analytics to make a customer-centric decision, and the right decision at the right time can accelerate customer-facing application project lifecycle management.

It’s the age of customer centricity. Building customer-facing applications is both strategic to delight customer with new solutions, and also tactical to improve project success rate via building the mature team and experiment with the best practices or the next practices.  


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