Weeknote 320

January 9th to 13th

Friday evening is usually the time I set aside for writing a weeknote. Not this time, as my computer fell into a coma (kernel panic) a few hours earlier. After some futile attempts at resuscitation, I surrendered. My MacBook needed professional help. I pulled out my iPhone, opened the Apple store app, tapped on "Genius" and made an appointment. 90 minutes later I shook hands with Henry at the Genius bar. After running some tests, he had bad news: It's a hardware problem, it'll probably cost me 200 to 500 Euro to get it fixed and I will be without my computer for a few days.

No matter how good your product or service is, things will go wrong. In these situations – when a product breaks, a software has a bug, a link on a website doesn't work – the customer experience is at the most vulnerable point. If you handle it the wrong way – au revoir client. But there's also a huge potential in such situations. If you manage to turn people's frustration into something positive, like respect, understanding or amusement, you can strengthen your relationship with your customer.

Although I entered the Apple store with a bad feeling and left it with even worse news, the whole experience – from making the appointment to leaving the store – absorbed much of my annoyance. So when I was riding the bus back home, I thought about how often these situations are ignored. Most products or services are designed for the perfect scenario. Very few energy is spent on the situations when things go wrong. It's nothing people like to think about, so they often deny it or play it down. But something always goes wrong. We should all keep that in mind when designing experiences.

Ok, enough rambling. Here's the usual rundown of what we've been working on this week:

David, our favorite intern, and Philipp continued to work on Enumclaw. Philipp felt a bit under the weather, so he stayed in Berlin. Nevertheless both got a lot done and almost finished this short project.

Christophe had to wear many hats this week. He spent a day out of office for Wapato, went to a meeting and brainstormed with me for Clayoquot and was also involved with Michael and moi on a new project we started this week.

This project – I hereby name you Snoqualmie – is a pretty special to us. It's a good and well-known product/brand, a competent and friendly project team and a very interesting industry (publishing). But what made us even happier is the way the project came about. But I leave that for next week's note.

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