May 25

A touch of class; Customer-driven design at work

Tech with tags: 1 Comment »

As a company, do you focus on the customer? Many companies do so only when the focus is to lock in the customer. How many services have you used that when it came to leaving said service you ended up running around like a blue arsed fly on their Web site. This is the norm. Many will say “duh, we don’t want to put effort into that side of the business where we are losing a customer!”

Every now and then I see companies that care about the entire experience, and I just saw another example in

I love their service, but recently have been (due to reasons not to do with the quality of the product or what I would personally like to us) using other products to develop software. I stayed signed up as I want to come back to the service, and the following email just came in:

Your credit card was NOT charged!

Inactive account disabled

It looks like you haven’t used your account in the last 30 days or so. We don’t like getting billed for things that we don’t use and we don’t think that you should either so we’ve disabled your account.

Fear not! Your data has NOT been deleted and you can always log into your account to reactivate your account and access all of your data.

We hope to see you again sometime soon. If you’d like to reactivate your account now you can do so by logging into your account and updating your billing information.

If you no longer plan to use, there’s nothing left to do on your part. Your account has been disabled and we will not continue to attempt to bill your credit card.


The Team

Now this is classy. Not only did they pro-actively stop taking money from me, think about the fact that they had to code this into the system. This story made its way up through their large backlog to a point where they did this.

The net effect is that my trust and emotional connection to has risen. I look forward to re-activating my account soon.

Joe Stump and friends, you are a classy act.

Mar 26

Imagine what you could do if you helped your users?

Tech with tags: , , 1 Comment »

Computer Help

Context is everything. The context for an online help system for most companies is that they want to do everything possible for you NOT to contact a human being. The CIO looks at the numbers and call/email centers as a money pit in their eyes.

I just had yet another example of this. It is a common one.

I had to contact United and didn’t want to jump on the phone to hate life in the automated system as I type “0″ as often as I can to get a human that will be on the other side of the world.

The issue wasn’t mission critical, so I wanted to just shoot off an email. Along the way the system tried really hard to trick me into not sending it, culminating in this:

Resolve Issue

The key is that after you click “SEND” you expect the email to be sent don’t you? I do, and as it is loading I move on from the tab as I am done with my action. When I run across the tab later I am surprised to see “Here are some answers to your question” with a “Continue sending email »” message. Oh darn it, now PLEASE actually send the correspondence would you old chap?

If the systems that try to work out the solution to your problem are awful. They have never actually found the answer to my question, and if my question was simple enough I would have found it on the site or through simple usage. Most of the time you are asking someone to add your frequent flyer number to a reservation (when you try it errors out) and you get back “Do you want to rent a car?”

The system could do a much better job by:

  • Actually giving you results that make any sense at all, and if you don’t think there is a good match don’t even try
  • Send the email, and then say “hey, just in case, was it one of these?” On the bizarre off chance that they got it right, there could be a button that would cancel your question “You don’t need help anymore, thanks though”

If the CIO actually realized how important customer service is to the brand and the entire experience, this enlightened person would be able to do so much good that you wouldn’t be able to switch to the competition.


  • There is a 10 minute wait, but don’t worry, we will call you back, so get off the phone
  • I am sorry that the connection died, I called you right back