The user’s experience is the only experience

Have you ever had an issue with a digital product & reported it only to be told “it’s working fine for me”?

This is literally the most useless feedback ever. Especially when it’s positioned as the quasi-solution.

Each individual has an individual experience with your product. it’s the only experience they can possibly have so knowing that the product works for “everyone else” actually makes the situation worse.

Understanding that you do not have one product but in fact your product multiplied by the number of users is incredibly important for any business that cares about retention and customer relations.
This topic isn’t straight forward either - it touches on many areas:

  • customer relations
  • communication strategy
  • bug reporting
  • product roadmap

Bug reporting is an interesting one in itself. We often only consider reporting bugs to engineers and product owners but how many times has an app crashed on you with no explanation?

Some apps do it & that’s great, it goes some of the way to letting a user know that you know and care about their experience - i.e. the only experience. The worst thing to do is do what Microsoft does - pump out an error code like “x729y40Bg62”. Wow, really helpful. This is what happens when you let the machines do the talking.

So, we write rules for testing our code - lets start doing the same to inform users:

  1. User has issue ZOMG!
  2. Error is logged & reported to team
  3. If error is understood then it is reported to user with what you think happened - be apologetic!
  4. Else error is reported to user with generic response - being human works better “Well this is awkward, we’re not sure what happened but the issue has been reported so this can never. happen. again”. Humour can go a long way but make sure you DO address the issue at hand as well.
  5. Update users? This generally never happens. As a user I would be pretty pleased to receive a message saying “Hey, you know that issue you had - well we fixed it, thanks for your help”. Thanks for my help? But all I did was use your app?!?! :)
  6. Don’t sweat it, but don’t forget it. Everything breaks - but don’t turn a blind eye. Some of my favourite startups are terrible at fixing issues and seem to just leave them - but if you leave lots of little things they’ll bug the hell out of users and they won’t care about the TOTALLY AWESOME things you’ve been busy working on. Path take note.

Now, I know none of this is particularly easy but it’s worth considering in the beginning even if you can’t deliver it because when your business starts to grow if you’ll find you can’t retrofit empathy.

Just think, if Dale Carnegie were a product owner - what would he say? He’d say “Your experience is the only experience that matters” & more importantly; he’d mean it.

Go be awesome, go mean it.