Categories: Founder's Blog


Sam Bayer


When software masks a deeper issue

Banks are a commodity.  Their core business is to manage deposits, make loans and manage the spread between them.  They perform these activities under careful scrutiny and regulation by the Federal Government.  Banks primarily compete on price and service.  Price isn’t much of a differentiator because how much difference is there really between 0.95% and 1.1% interest on your money market fund?  It really is all about convenience.  Do they have a branch in your favorite supermarket.  Do they give toasters if you open a new account? How’s their online software?

Last month I found out how important online banking software is to our business when my bank…who will remain nameless…”upgraded” us to a new online banking platform.


Aside from mishandling the task of migrating data from the old platform to the new, the new platform lost some key features that were critical to our business.  We no longer were able to add, or make changes to, any accounts that we wanted to pay via ACH.  That basically threw a last minute monkey wrench into our monthly payroll processing cycle.

A big ouch!

Since the only reason I was banking with this company was the convenience of their online banking software, now that they took their eye off that ball, I’m out the door.  Switching banks is a little painful, but they’ve left me no choice.

So that got me to thinking about our clients and their customers.  Our SAP Magento Integrated B2B eCommerce websites represent the online relationship between those two entities and I want to make sure we get that right.  I don’t want any of our client’s customers defecting from our clients because of a bad online experience.

And that’s when I had my epiphany.

My banks crappy software, and abysmal transition process, isn’t the real reason I’m leaving them.  That’s only a symptom of the real problem.  The real problem is that they clearly don’t care about me any longer.  If they did, they never would have let that happen to me.

Software, and its implementation, is just an outward expression of how much a company understands, respects and caters to their customers.

No wonder internal systems are notoriously crappy.  IT organizations are not accustomed to treating employees like clients.  Employees can’t revolt, at least not in the US, and say I’m not going to use that horrific SAP system because it abuses my sensibilities.  Internal systems have always been governed like a monopoly.  You don’t like it?  Tough.  Get a job elsewhere.

But customers do have choices.

It may be painful for them to leave you right away, but they do have choices and they eventually will leave you.  As long as you are the only provider of the product that they need, and you continue to have it available at the right price, they’ll endure communicating via phone/fax/email and maybe even crappy websites.   If, however, your product…or a compatible substitute…is available competitively elsewhere, you now have to compete on service.   That sound you hear is Amazon sneaking up behind you.

The moral of this story is reignite your love for your customers.  Reaffirm your belief that without them you have nothing.

With that in your heart, you’ll never buy, or roll out, crappy software.