“This sucks!” Isn’t helpful. It might be your gut reaction, and it might even be right. But it doesn’t point the way to improvement, and it almost unfailingly makes people get defensive.
(Side note: telling them not to get defensive almost always produces the exact opposite effect.)
Ask questions instead:
- “What was the thinking behind this word choice?”
- “How do you think the user will interact once they reach this page?”
- “What are you trying to convey with this color scheme?”
Questions start a process of improvement. Judgement, valid or not, prevents it.
There was this computer hardware store that I loved. They offered good products at reasonable prices, assembly services and guarantees that made sense.
Not to say that things went flawlessly. The carriers they worked with weren’t always the most professional. But customer support always solved issues to the best of their abilities.
You don’t always need to be able to solve the problem to make the customer happy. Sometimes it’s enough to be polite, to be attentive, to show beyond the shadow of a doubt that you did all that you could do (as far as it’s true, of course). The service need not be the same thing as a result.
Last week I emailed that shop I loved to ask about the estimated delivery time for a product. This happened on Saturday, during office hours. On Monday there was still no answer. I called. There was no one to answer. Wednesday. The same thing.
On Saturday, exactly a week later, the answer comes, with an apology but no justification. They let me know the estimated delivery time, as I had asked.
Am I to trust this estimate, as given by someone who takes a week to reply to a work email?
Trust is a fragile good. Hande with care.
The lady at the bakery gave me a free loaf of bread.
It wasn’t a special deal or sale. The reason she didn’t charge for it is that it was yesterday’s bread. She said she couldn’t sell yesterday’s bread. So she asked if I wanted to have it for free because she knew that I enjoyed that particular kind of bread.
From now on, I’m going to go out of my way to buy my bread at that bakery.
It’s not because I got a freebie. The monetary benefit is negligible, and there’s no expectation that the situation will repeat itself.
It’s because I know they won’t try to sell me yesterday’s bread.
Your actions communicate the quality of your product much more than your words.