Avoid Zoom’s mistake! Understand your customers’ expectations

Zoom has been my go-to online meeting tool for years because it’s easier to use than competitors. So I was surprised recently when they screwed up so many privacy and security issues. It reminded me of some of the case studies I wrote about in my book, Why We Fail. My theory: our standards for privacy and security increased significantly in the past several years, particularly due to companies such as Apple who made it a strategic issue, and Zoom missed this shift. It looks like they’re moving swiftly to remedy the situation, but hopefully they don’t throw out the baby (usability) with the bathwater (dirty privacy practices). My video here explains more.

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.”