When developing software, particularly web applications, you are hardly giving your product to the end user. There’s typically a relationship that looks more like:
You › Business › Customer
Sure, the people you are selling to are ‘customers’ to you, but to their customers, they are the business. So why is this important? Because decisions you make affect your customer’s reputation. Depending on the type of software you write, your decisions can have a massive affect on the success or failure of another business. I happen to know…I write plugins that handle eCommerce and Social Media management. One little error in my code and their either lose money or followers. Both of which are hard to regain in the competitive space online.
So how do I make sure I help protect my reputation with my customers, by looking out for their reputation?
It all starts with the support
Top notch support is something that businesses look for. If they are making a living by using their product, they expect you to support it, and support it well. This is one of the biggest positive responses we get on the Easy Digital Downloads Team. We’re dedicated to offering best in industry support. Can you please everyone? No. At the end of the day, offering responsive, polite, and correct support will win over the trust of your customers every day.
Commitments to Code
Things like maintaining Backwards Compatibility, Unit Testing, Extensibility, and User Experience all build up to a solid reputation as a product. Without these things in place, the trust that your software can do what your customers will need dwindles. If you have the ability to run unit tests, do it. It helps instill trust in your users that you’re making sure most aspects of the application are working still, even though you only made a small change.
There was a bit of a discussion happening in the WordPress world about a month ago, based off the article “Code Quality is Not a Feature” by Tom McFarlin. I 100% agree, it’s not a feature, but is something that people will feel more comfortable with using in their business to represent themselves.
Eat your own dog food
Dogfooding is a term used to describe using your own product as an end user, not just in development. Before every release of Easy Digital Downloads or Post Promoter Pro, I run them on my own sites for a few days or weeks prior. I do this mainly for 2 reasons:
- People know I do this, and if I’m confident enough to put it on my own site, it makes them feel like I’m committed to the quality of the product.
- If someone is going to see a bug, I’m the best person to know what might be causing it, at that moment. Bug reports are inconsistent, and sometimes lacking details. By seeing them myself early, and in an environment I have full access to I can try and catch them before a customer does, and then their customer does.
Take pride in THEIR success
When I hear that something I built is helping a customer succeed, I’ve succeeded. There’s not much more to that. Whether I’m getting credit or not, in the end, my objective is complete:
Help a person achieve their goals, using my passion for writing software.
I love it when I get to a checkout screen and I can tell it’s powered by Easy Digital Downloads. If I see a Tweet from someone I know uses Post Promoter Pro…I get a sense of satisfaction in knowing I helped them achieve their goals.
You’re representing more than just yourself
The product you produce and services you provide, represent yourself first and foremost. Depending on your industry though, your efforts MAY represent your customer. Testimonials, sales, referrals, and success in the product or service industry is based off how well you manage these reputations and expectations. Understanding this is the first step to delivering a quality experience, alongside your delivered product or service.