Working in a tech company made me a better customer

Once upon a time, I didn’t work in a tech company. I didn’t work in a company that’s product was a service it offered through the internet. This is the type of company that doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar presence; it is present in whatever gadget you’re using. This is the type of company that doesn’t have actual face-to-face interactions with its customers; its interactions happen through emails, web-based chats and sometimes, phone calls. And because this type of a company doesn’t have an outlet where people can go and complain, they complain about it on the company’s social media channels.

Now, complaining isn’t wrong. If you’re not happy with a company’s product or service, you should complain. But complaining too quickly and too easily isn’t always right. I used to do that. I have a Twitter account, which made it very easy for me to simply go to it and send out an unforgiving tweet about a company that failed to impressme. I could even go to the company’s Facebook page and post my disgruntlement on their wall. It hardly takes a lot of time and even though the company’s service might not improve immediately, the gratification of having done something to get myself heard is definitely instant.

All of us do this all the time. A tech company will delay the shipment of something we ordered and we’ll take to Twitter to “teach them a lesson”. Another tech company will fail to deliver a promise they’ve made and we’ll go to Facebook to teach another lesson. But amongst all of this teaching and preaching, we’ll not bother to learn anything about why the screw-up happened.

And we don’t bother because we forget that even though the company is a tech company, it is being run by humans only. The processes are tech-driven, but they’re being driven by humans. It is not actually the computers that are doing all of the work.

When we deal with a brick-and-mortar business, we let go of mistakes and screw-ups because we see a human committing them. We relate to the feeling of it being a human error. With a tech company, we don’t see that happening behind our gadgets. Computers are not supposed to commit errors and so are not tech companies.

This was the way I saw things as well, till I started to work in a tech company. I have worked in a team that has put emphasis on automating processes, but even then, the processes have to be put in place by humans. And there are so many ways in which things can potentially go wrong. There are various hurdles we face on a day-to-day basis. People fall fill, vendors don’t deliver, different teams don’t sync as well as expected. And yes, sometimes, a tech company tries to bite off more than it can chew. But that can be learned only in retrospect.

This doesn’t mean the tech company isn’t trying or it doesn’t care. Screw-ups hurt the company more than a customer can ever imagine. A screw-up means going back to the drawing board and trying to figure out what went wrong. A screw-up means heartbreakfor the people behind that particular process. A screw-up means putting things back in place from scratch. A tech company doesn’t want to screw-up as much as its customers don’t want it to screw-up. The company doesn’t want to run away with a customer’s money nor does it want to disappoint the customers. The company just wants to do something good enough to bring the customer back to it.

These are things I didn’t ever think of before I started working in a tech company. But once I did, once I saw that a screw-up can happen because of myriad reasons that cannot be controlled, I understood what it meant for the company itself.

Now, I’m more patient. I’m more accepting. I’m more understanding. I accept the fact that a tech company, like any other company, will not be immune to errors. I understand that there are humans behind the technology that I expect to run flawlessly. And I’m patient enough to give them the time they require to make things right without needing to lambast them on social media or anywhere else.

Yes, working in a tech company has turned me into a better customer.

I wrote this first on Linkedin Pulse.

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