Establishing Empathy with Enterprise Customers

Zemanta is now an enterprise software company. We sell to big brands and media agencies where many people are involved in purchase decisions and immediate users of our software are rarely the people paying our bills. While business side of the company and the product team are very much involved in the sales process and we consequently get to know our customers very well, the engineers are far away from our customers which makes it hard for them to develop empathy for the problems of our customers. And without empathy for the users engineers are less motivated to develop software solutions which are actually helping users solve their problems.

One solution to this problem could be to show to engineers how immediate users of our software are using it. While this is necessary it's hardly enough and it's also quite misleading since the true users of our services are actually executives (brand managers, VPs of marketing, and CMOs) who push through their goals with the help of our service while actually never using the software itself. In the world of enterprise software, when you use the word customer it doesn't mean a single person but a subset of people in the organization that are stakeholders in using your product and its results. How to present such amorphous concept to engineers is something I still have to figure out. If you have some ideas yourself, please describe them in the comments.