Our CX 101 Series continues! Last time, we dug into the design aspect of customer experiences (CX) with Tahzoo Studios Director, Don Low. Now, we switch gears by focusing on the technical side of building out an experience architecture with Software Engineering Manager, Sarah Braumiller.

As always, introductions! Tell us what you do at Tahzoo as a Software Engineering Manager.

Sarah: I do a little of everything – from programming alongside my developers and engineers, to QAing pull requests and doing code reviews, to being a resource and mentor for junior and mid-level developers, to being a support system for whoever may need it.

I believe the business world refers to that as “wearing a lot of hats.”

Sarah: Exactly. On one hand, I pitch in on the information architecture side, ensuring the right data goes into the right system in the right structure for a product we may be building. On the other hand, there are times when my job requires more of a “project manager” hat, so I can ensure everything runs smoothly for both our clients and employees. Then, there are times where I consult with the design teams and other client-facing departments to make sure that an idea or design can be implemented from within the software solution.

For those who don’t work in development, can you explain what software engineering means for a business?

Sarah: Software engineering is a very broad term that means several things. In our case, it involves analyzing the needs of the client and what their requirements are so that we can come up with a beautiful software stack that will support them and scale for many years. This includes writing and testing code, designing and maintaining software systems/applications, and optimizing software for scalability and performance.

And how does this kind of work align with Tahzoo’s mission of creating personalized customer experiences?

Sarah: In every single way. Each client is very different and has unique issues to solve. Not one project here at Tahzoo has ever been identical. To give a story of a past client… we had a client that came to us and informed us that they had something like 700 college sites, 300 K-12 sites, and then a smattering of Marketing and Blog related websites. They wanted these to be content manageable so that when they brought on a new client, they could spin up a new site with that school’s colors within a matter of days. We created a system where they could put in a school’s colors, and the website would populate in those colors. It allowed them to get up a website in a matter of hours, verses days or months like they previously experienced. With the way we solutioned this, not only could they personalize the experience for that school, but they could also combine pieces of other sites together and come up with additional Site Types based on what we had already built. This helped them win several more clients.

We love a success story! Any others?

Sarah: Sure, let me just pull out my rolodex here – kidding. But in all seriousness, there are two different clients that come to mind. One client approached us and explained that their current tools weren’t working out for them. Our design team met with users from around the world to hear what worked and didn’t work in their current system. We then took that feedback and built an application with a multitude of easy-to-use research and search tooling to help users find what they needed more easily. From commenting and highlighting, to bookmarking content, to having an available history of searches, and even making the search “human friendly,” we built tools that helped the client’s user, no matter what stage they were in their research. My last story is about a client who had digital asset management (DAM) software that they needed to be able to bulk upload, but smartly. Previously, they were loading one thing at a time and doing the content entry on that asset. As you can imagine, this was a huge time factor. So, we created a beautiful piece of software that allowed the user to drop a zip of all their assets in a folder. Not only would it unzip that file and upload the contents into the DAM, but it also used the available metadata that this client had in their assets to provide information for that asset’s fields within the DAM.

Each of the solutions your team delivered was unique and different, but ultimately resulted in personalizing the experience for a client’s employees or their customers. Piggybacking off those stories, what are the biggest CX challenges you see clients face?

Sarah: I’ve personally been at Tahzoo for almost 9 years, so I’ve heard quite a few things from different clients. Many of them come to us when their user experience needs to be better. We have a great team that can dig into pain points and deliver a world-class solution that scales with the company as they grow. We also hear about malfunctioning features or whole applications/software, where clients have poured a ton of money into a solution that simply did not work for them. We love to solve these types of pain points. Our design, engineering, and testing teams are very experienced in solutioning for these difficult issues.

With all the other CX agencies out there, why do you think companies choose to work with Tahzoo?

Sarah: We’ve heard from clients that some tech companies don’t communicate well with them. Tahzoo will always let the client know where we’re at, and the client really appreciates that. We’re in this together. Great customer service is just as important as our solutions and the code we write.

Oh, without a doubt. Before we wrap up, do you have any advice for those interested in pursuing a career in software engineering? What skills or experience are important to have?

Sarah: First and foremost, problem-solving and logical thinking are two important skills to have. We’re puzzle solvers, and sometimes that puzzle has 10,000 pieces. The ability to break it down into consumable chunks and have that end-to-end solution clearly mapped out is so important. Next, I would say adaptability. Changes can be frequent, and technology is always evolving. You must keep up your current skillset and stay ahead of the curve, so that you and your skillset are current, marketable, and useful to clients. Lastly, your programming skillset. If you want to be a back-end engineer, look into becoming really good at languages like C# or Java. If you want to be a front-end engineer or front-end application developer, HTML, CSS and JavaScript are a great place to start. After that, you can branch more into the frameworks and libraries. React is great, but if that’s all you can do, you’ll only be marketable on a handful of projects. Get a good base in your knowledge and skillset so that you can easily pivot and pick up other similar languages.

Want to know more about the development side of CX or what it takes to work in software engineering? Reach out to Sarah at [email protected]. Otherwise, join us next time as we sit down with business consultant, Adrian Cepoi, to talk about his experience balancing client objectives with developer and designer solution capabilities.