Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Non-Software Lesson

Last night I went to a speakers series here in Boston. This particular one was a debate between Ann Coulter and Bill Maher. It was fairly interesting, and certainly politically charged. Lots of topics came up, ranging from whether democrats should be glad about their winning margin in the last election, to whether the stimulus bill was a good idea, to arguments about stem cell research, to whether creationism should be taught in schools. (hey, I didn't pick the topics!)

You know what we talked about as we were leaving?

The technical problems the Wang Theatre had.

Not what we thought about stem cells. Not where the various figures and numbers came from arguing about the size of the stimulus bills. Not what the president could possibly do in the first seven minutes after hearing the US was under attack (again, I didn't pick the topics!).

Nope, we talked about how embarrassing it was that the Wang Theatre had problems with two of the three mics on stage.

It was a simple problem, and an easy fix. The mics simply weren't turned up enough. So someone would start talking, a voice from the balcony would shout, "we can't hear you!" and they'd turn it up. What was annoying was that it happened on two different mics and it took at least five, "okay, is that better?" "no" interactions to fix it.

There's a lesson for us here.

One annoyance, mishandled, can taint an entire experience.

If almost everything is useful, and does what the customer expects, one problem isn't a big deal. Mishandle that problem, though - say it's fixed when it's not - and that problem becomes the focus. Because now it's not just a problem; it's a problem that keeps happening. And that's annoying. That's what you start to remember - that repeated failure.

Having annoyances is inevitable. How you handle them is up to you. Handle them properly, or those annoyances will rapidly become what your customer talks about. Let's get them talking about the repeated successes they're having instead.

No comments:

Post a Comment