Like Gnats Against a Screen Door

Among other businesses, I own a retail store in Los Angeles.

Though I’m thrilled to have lines of customers at our checkout counter ever day, it amazes me when our front desk people, who are supposed to greet people and help them purchase our services and products, continue to have personal conversations with each other without regard for the customers waiting.

Our customers, though mostly polite, don’t just wait when this happens, they stare the desk folks down. Laser beams.

To no effect.

I’m a systems guys, so, after seeing something like this happen again and again, I begin to wonder why.

I think it’s because we all get bored by repetition. To the front desk people, the customer becomes noise. Those pesky customers always ask the same questions, make the same complaints (that the front desk folks can’t fix), or attempt to pay with a personal check when there’s a big sign saying that’s a no-no.

So, after a week or two on the receiving end of the same ol’, the words become noise like the buzz of gnats against a screen door.

Now imagine an engineer sitting in a team room on the 14th floor of building with no windows, coding a checkout process for that mobile app you are struggling with. He’s not even paying attention to the complaints on the Apple Store let alone your pain. He is 5 levels away from the buzz and rarely if ever meets a user face-to-face, let alone App Store reviews.

His customers are gnats against a screen door on the other side of town. Powerless.

My recommendation to my tech clients, of course, is to get as many team members (engineers, designers, QA, managers, you name it) out of the office, to watch and interact with the people who use their products. If that’s not possible, at least set up monitors in the team rooms showing live video of people using their software.

Or, better yet, open the screen door, and let the gnats in for a while.

Leave a Comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *