What We Know About Failure So Far

I’m in the research phase of my book on customer experience product failures and I’m pleased to find several books on failure that will inform my work. I’m collecting them in a list on UX Zeitgeist: Oh Noes! Books About Failure. I’ll be adding reviews of each book I read. So far, Being Wrong is my favorite, Kathryn Schulz brings both philosophical rigor and great stories.

If you like the list, please Like it.

Hire People Who Talk to Plants

Empathy has long been a useful trait in designers, because we’re more likely to design products and services that offer utility, usability, and desirability if we care about customers. By extension, it’s therefore a useful trait for business people as well, as authors like Dan Pink point out.

When hiring, the tricky part is figuring out who feels empathy. Maybe, while talking to someone, you could spill hot coffee on yourself and see how they respond? Maybe you could ask them to talk through an approach to a business problem and see if they overlook the customer (I’ve seen user experience designers do this. It ain’t pretty.)?

If you’re lucky enough to find someone who talks to their plants, hire them. We know speech doesn’t actually help plants grow, but anyone who cares enough to treat their plants as if they were people will probably treat customers very well.

Anton Chekhov on Powerpoint

I’m not convinced the MFA is the new MBA, though I like this use of Chekhov’s technique for talking to clients: “One of Chekhov’s more famous quotes was “Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out”. His simple philosophies come through in his stories, which were not noted for their intricate plots. Rather, Chekhov found emotion and drama in ordinary, everyday events…. How Does Chekhov’s Model Work? First, Anton tees up a messy situation. Second, he describes the impact the situation is having on his characters – then delights us with an ending.

Customer-Focus When the Customer Doesn’t Even Pay

Ennes cooking Diego pointed to this article for its uncommon attention to aesthetics, I point to it for its uncommon attention to the customer:

Mr. Ennes… might be the best soup kitchen chef in New York City. On Thanksgiving, when most of the cooks at the city’s other 470-some soup kitchens simply roasted turkey, he prepared “turkey four ways,” including one with mango-ginger glaze and tropical fruit stuffing.

Despite the care he puts into his cooking, he doesn’t mind a little criticism. “They’re still customers, whether they’re paying $100 a plate or nothing,” Mr. Ennes said. “One thing we do here is listen to people and let them complain. Where else can a homeless person get someone to listen to them?”

…At Broadway Community, everyone gets to eat. There is no humiliating food line to stand in. Volunteers set each of Mr. Ennes’s courses in front of the diners.

“When you force people to queue up for food, you encourage pushiness and aggressiveness and hardness,” he said. “Sitting at a table and being served encourages community.”