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  • September 5, 2019
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Bad Software Choices Lead to Half a Billion Hours Wasted Every Year

U.S. sales and service agents waste a combined 516 million hours a year trying to navigate the software they are forced to use, according to research from Freshworks. The wasted hours searching for information, clicking through confusing menus, and working around glitches and missing functionality represent $8.3 billion in lost productivity every year. 

Freshworks' "Voice in the Choice" survey revealed a possible culprit in the software selection process, with 96 percent of end users reporting they have little to no voice in how software is selected. This also affects employee morale and retention and even customer satisfaction.  

Additionally, 57 percent have no clue who chooses the software they use, and 43 percent don't know why the software was chosen.

Respondents indicated that they have greater control over snack selection at their offices than they do over the software they use every day. Here is the breakdown of where they feel they have the most influence:

  • Personal work schedule (28 percent)
  • Seat or desk assignment (20 percent)
  • Office snack selection (17 percent)
  • Software they use (7 percent)

Conversely, when it comes to the biggest impact on their ability to do their jobs well, software becomes the top factor. Forty-seven percent say the software they use has a major or complete impact on their ability to do their jobs well. 

Other work life factors that improve employee performance include the following:

  • Work schedule (41 percent)
  • Seat or desk assignment (16 percent)
  • Office snack selection (6 percent)

"Sales and support agents at the front line of customer care often deal with the negative implications of a bad software selection," said Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research. "This happens not by malice but often because the vendor selection team fails to include the input of frontline employees. In fact, the selection team is often limited to managers who prioritize business requirements over end-user needs. The result is hours of lost productivity each day for every employee, along with a negative impact on customer service."

Similarly, the pain of software dictatorship has both quantitative and qualitative ramifications. Half (50 percent) say that when they have to use software they hate, it is harder for them to satisfy their customers. And one in five report that when they are frustrated with software, they are more likely to be rude to customers. 

Exclusion from their organizations' software decision-making also impacts overall employee morale and, ultimately, employee retention. Nearly one in four end users (24 percent) say that using software they hate makes them want to quit their jobs. This flight risk is more acute with millennials, with 30 percent reporting that handcuffing them to bad software makes them want to pack up and leave.  

Tellingly, using hated software brings frustration and unhappiness at work to more people (26 percent) than the drudgery of long hours and working overtime (23 percent).

"This lack of employee involvement is an outrage for those on the front lines of the customer relationship and should be a wake-up call for companies who are looking to increase both employee productivity and customer satisfaction," Freshworks CEO and founder Girish Mathrubootham said. "Organizations have a responsibility to their employees, their customers, and themselves to bring the voice of their workers into the technology-buying process. The happiness of their employees and customers depends on it, as does the health of their business."

The survey revealed that increased user involvement not only increases productivity but increases job satisfaction as well. End users report that if management involved them in deciding which software to use, it would make them feel respected (60 percent) and empowered (40 percent) while boosting their morale (43 percent). 

The data highlights the idea that many employees would rather have a vote in the software they use than traditional time-honored benefits. Of those surveyed, more than half say they’d rather get to choose the software than have a 401(k) or two extra days of paid vacation. Additionally, employees report that the resulting waste using ineffective software is impacting their happiness at work. Sixty-four percent say being efficient brings them joy and fulfillment at their jobs, more than bonus eligibility (50 percent), friendships with colleagues (47 percent), career advancement opportunities (35 percent), or stock options (18 percent).

Enlightened managers are adopting a more democratic approach to selecting software for net positive gains. Over half of end users say that helping to choose the software their company uses to engage with customers would result in happier customers (53 percent) and higher employee productivity (52 percent). In fact, more than half of millennials (52 percent) report that they'd be at least 25 percent better at their jobs if they could choose the software they use.

"As our productivity and happiness at work becomes more closely tied to the technology we use, executives and managers have a true opportunity to make better software choices by giving a voice to their employees," Mathrubootham said. "Organizations can enact a more democratic selection process through a number of best practices, including employee surveys, pilot programs, employee committees and many other tactics to ensure worker voices are heard and can be as productive as possible."

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