One bad thing...

Often it can only be one bad thing that will undo all your efforts to put your best foot forward.

If you have or have had a teenager, you’ll understand this is when the true test of parenting and ability to maintain an acceptable level of mental health really begins. We have 3 of these cave dwelling creatures (somewhat) co-habitating with us. And whilst consideration isn’t really something that’s entered their vocabulary at this point.... there are (slightly scary) moments when they go all out to impress.

One day our 15 year-old son had a day off school and offered to make dinner while we were at work . He found a recipe on the internet, got on his bike and chose a lovely (very expensive) cut of lamb from the butcher. He went to the supermarket and picked up the rest of the ingredients, then diligently came home and prepared the feast that we would all enjoy later that evening.

The recipe called for a very slow 5 hour cooking time, and our son got the meat in the oven before he smugly headed off to swimming training.

I arrived home feeling self-satisfied at the knowledge that a delicious mid-week dinner was already under control and expected the sweet scent of gently cooking lamb to welcome me at the door.

I was a little surprised that the aroma was not quite as sweet as I was expecting, but I was still unconcerned. I wasn’t even annoyed when I read the note left for me on the bench (I actually manage to cook dinner most other nights without “ruining” it).

I thought it best to take a look at the masterpiece, given it had already been cooking for several hours. You can imagine my surprise when I pulled the dish from the oven and the top of the (did I mention, very expensive) meat was all-but burnt to a crisp whilst the rest was barely cooked.

On closer examination of the oven dials – it would appear the lamb had been fan-grilling (rather than baking) for about 4 hours!

All that work, effort and almost unprecedented thoughtfulness unwound by one (some might say incredibly stupid) mistake... one more click of the oven dial would’ve left him basking in the glory of success and achievement.

This scenario is frequently played out in the business world where time, effort, energy and care can so easily be unravelled because of a single error or oversight.

I went to a presentation recently by Tony Fernando, a consultant psychiatrist with Auckland DHB who talked about the way bad experiences are “sticky”, much more so than the good ones. He used the example of how we can be having a lovely day, weather is great, no traffic jams on the motorway and you’re not in any great rush to get where you’re going – suddenly some jerk in a flashy BMW cuts in front of you making you brake hard, consequently yanking you from your previous euphoric state. An incident that lasted just a few seconds has completely destroyed the several previous hours of goodness.

So what we learn from this is; you can do 99 things right, 99 things that are delivered with care and thought, but none of them will ever carry the weight or impact of the 1 thing that is left wanting.

In our world of web development an online form that asks questions that are clear and easy to understand, looks fantastic and has excellent performance, can ultimately leave the user irritated and frustrated if the error messages are vague or cryptic. Or the deployment of a highly polished, sophisticated, well tested new web application can fall flat if the developer forgets to advise the client that it is now Live!

The moral of the story here is that we need to pay attention to all aspects of our business, and the interaction we have with our clients. Just one sour note in their experience with us can affect their perception of the whole relationship. And it’s not just our clients’ experience that we need to worry about, it’s also the experience of our clients’ clients.

More often than not the outcome of the one bad experience may not be as dire as the burnt meat, but the damage can be significant all the same.

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