Customer Support: The Unsung Hero of Software Development

Jonathan Watson
3 min readMay 22, 2022

Covid-19 forced companies to make leaps forward in software development just to stay afloat. The companies that did it well cemented their roles for years to come. The companies that forgot customer support? Pushed their customers into the waiting arms of their competitors.

When Covid-19 lock-downs kept people indoors, they naturally turned to food delivery apps. Uber Eats and Door Dash are two of the more popular applications.

But for large corporations, these apps ate away at what were already small margins. That’s when they decided to mobilize their development teams to offer their own solutions.

Subway was one such chain that put together their own mobile app, capable of accepting user orders and routing them to stores. Though these customized mobile apps still utilized Door Dash and Uber Eats delivery personnel, they were able to recoup many of the fees associated with those platforms.

Unfortunately, they forgot one crucial element in the software development lifecycle: customer support.

One day, after placing an order directly through Subway’s mobile app, I heard my doorbell ring and opened the door, only to find that the wrong order had been delivered. Whether my order had been made incorrectly, or whether the wrong order got delivered, I still, to this day, do not know.

No worries. In these trying times, we all have to make accommodations. I’ll just chat with their customer support and get a refund, right? Wrong.

It turns out, the Subway app doesn’t have a customer support chat. In fact, there was no customer support at all. I had to go to their website and fill out a ridiculously long form, often typing in information that should have been readily available from my account and my order history.

Now, I realize that Subway franchises are individually owned, and that contributes to some of the problem. But surely somebody in the planning session for building a mobile app stopped to say, “What if something goes wrong?”

I never heard back from that customer support form email. I ended up having to file a charge back with my bank to get my money back. And I’ve never ordered directly through the Subway app again. Too much hassle.

And that’s the real moral of the story. I’ve had problems with Door Dash and Uber Eats as well. But their customer support team is actually available and responsive. I’ve never had an issue that couldn’t be resolved. And I’ve never had to manually input order information.

If you’re building anything and you’re not considering the customer support side of your application, I guarantee you, you’re dooming your app to failure.

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Jonathan Watson

Jonathan is a Senior Software Engineer in the Atlanta area. When not cranking out React, he enjoys teaching and traveling.