The apps, services and software you use on a daily basis have a tremendous amount of influence on your attitude, and decisions, including the way you arrive at those decisions. The more screen time you have, the more influential these tools are in shaping your culture and strategic viewpoint. Along with their great influence, beneath the features and benefits come secret stowaways and added baggage. Much like a Trojan Horse, the software you use is built upon some added context, methods, and philosophies that you probably didn't notice on the surface. These ideas might not align with your own, and over time, they can hijack your work performance.
Here are three ways your software may be hijacking your work world:
1. Cues and Rewards--Reinforcing Behaviors That Drive Engagement (With the App)
Many modern business apps give you and your team encouragement or positive feedback in the form of stars, smiles, green text, positive growing graphs, etc. These feedback loops are powerful and can encourage behaviors that drive productivity and efficiency. They can also encourage behaviors that deepen dependence on the app, service or platform itself. Obviously you want more of the former and less of the latter, therefore monitoring is important. Are the cues and rewards in alignment with your performance metrics, or are they really giving stars and smiles when you upload your contact database to the platform and/or connect to social media accounts? These small moments where you get a pat on the back for doing something can have a profound influence on your conscious and unconscious behavior. And I assure you, this isn't by accident. This is behavioral programming.
2. Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)--Giving You a Twisted View of What's Important
Whose metrics are they anyway? Let's be honest, how many KPI's did you start paying attention to as a result of a graph presented to you in an app or service? From Google analytics to Facebook and Twitter, the data that gets visualized gets the attention. And over time, that attention can overemphasize the significance of any piece of data and eclipse others. Where you look is where you go. Are you deciding what KPI's to pay attention to, or is your software deciding for you by bringing them front, center, top of screen and thus top of mind?
People tend to associate visual position with prominence and importance. The app designers and vendors know this. They also know which metrics and features distinguish them from their competitors. It may surprise you how many decisions you make, end up favoring on false assumptions. Those decisions can deepen your ties and dependency on a particular app, instead of getting your eyeballs on what is important.
If company X can develop a new proprietary metric or system that holds your attention and makes you question the competition, you can bet they'll do it with little regard for the impact on your company. This is why marketers over emphasize "brand awareness" and proprietary metrics such as klout scores. The consequences of these experience-design decisions shape the process and strategies of countless companies. The more you believe, the more you internalize their view, the stronger your relationship to their software. It's the trojan horse tactic of the digital age.
3. How You Treat Your Customers in Times of Need--Cost Center or Revenue Generator?
There are two dominant attitudes of how customer support is viewed; as a cost center or a revenue generator. These philosophies are reflected in CRM Software in both big and subtle ways. The vendors or apps that view customers as an expense, may zealously try to keep the overall volume of calls or tickets to a minimum. They will feature on-screen, countdown timers and character limits in email responses to encourage brief conversations.
On the other hand, if you view customer service as a revenue generator, you and your team may want to have longer conversations. You may want to act as an advisor in times of support, and upsell customers on offerings that would solve more of their problems and add more value to all sides of the equation. You may want software that identifies the upsell moments and trigger points for broader conversations to navigate to the upsell moment. Are those ideas reflected in the user experience with your apps? Check to find out.
Overall, the features and philosophies in your software may or may not align with the culture and attitude that you want to promote toward your employees or customers. It's important to ensure your tools are a fit for your company. Otherwise, in a quarterly review you may wake up and wonder why sales are down, the team is mad and you don't know why. It could be difficult to move away from a current software provider because they've invaded too much of your business if you don't even know it's happened. These stealthy invasions happen to those not paying a mindful eye, and should serve as a wake up call for all entrepreneurs to start paying more attention to the subtleties of the tools used to manage and grow business