Focus on Exceptional Client Service

Like most other professions, software engineering comprises a wide range of skills. Yes, you are hired to produce working, quality code, but to assume that is your entire mission at work is a mistake. Who cares?

Programming as an end by itself, in the context of a business, is nothing special. If you can’t begin to convince customers of the advantages of having the right software for the job, how could they even evaluate your fees and salary? Few people get software, but everyone understands that a using a tool that improves your revenue or productivity beyond some point is better than not using anything in the first place.

So, why do so many people fail at the sales pitch? Three reasons: 1) They can’t convince customers of the added value; 2) They can’t assuage the customer’s fears; 3) They promote specific products and projects instead of drilling into the particular needs for the task at hand.

Exceptional client service is about going beyond what is realistically expected of you. It is about surprising, and often delighting, customers, turning them into enthusiastic referral sources and lifelong clients who stick with you not only because you do great work at a fair price, but because the value you bring to them goes far beyond just your products.

Your job is not to code… your job is to solve problems. Doing software is exploratory and unpredictable, so deadlines will be missed, and experiments will be thrown away; so communicate that is a chance to provide better solutions rather than just reluctantly accepting what they ask for (or bailing out without explanation).

Summing-up: Cast aside any doubts on questioning requirements; your priority should be figuring out the needs behind a specification. You’ll find that even technically competent customers will have overlooked a critical piece of the job. Do it with tact and you’ll have a steady stream of work.

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