Today I spent an hour listening in on phone calls in our call center. Every developer is supposed to spend one hour a week doing that or answering customer emails that come in. Since I’m pretty unfamiliar with every product we offer except for the ones I’ve worked on, I’m not really comfortable answering the emails right now. I think this is a great idea since it keeps us developers in regular contact with the front lines. At my previous job, I saw many of my co-workers develop cynical attitudes towards the people who paid their salaries. I worked for many years on the front lines, and I think that that experience is invaluable when designing applications for the layman.
The experience was very illuminating. I got to hear a few common problems and I got a sense of how diverse our product line really is. I left very impressed with the difficulty of the job—I always knew that it wasn’t for me but now I can articulate exactly why. Further, I was floored by the respect and kindness shown to me because I worked in development. At my previous job, the Web team was not generally respected—we largely brought that on ourselves—and I developed low departmental esteem because of that. I’ve always thought that software development was terribly important and fascinating so it was nice to see others sharing that view.
What’s extra impressive about this whole exercise is that there’s an internal survey to be completed afterward that I’m told is read by executive management. It sums up your experience and solicits any feedback or suggestions you might have. That survey forces you to think about what you’ve experienced. I don’t know if my comments will have any effect, but I like the fact that they’re collected and that the front-line duty isn’t just some corporate lip service to quality.
[UPDATE (8/2/2005): One of my recommendations on the survey was applauded by the VP of Development and will be included in the features of a future release of a product. Neato!]
[NOTE: The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Go Daddy Software, Inc.]