A friend sent me this email today from Google fiber:

His first response to me says it all:

Didn’t know there was an issue but thanks Google!

Meanwhile I had similar issues this past week with Comcast.

Did they get ahead of the issue and reach out to me before I was aware of the issue? No.

Did they offer me a credit as “paying for something while it doesn’t work, just doesn’t work”? No.

Did they even apologize for the outage? No.

No product or service is perfect. Issues will happen and I’m ok with that. The difference is all in how your company handles them.

You can tell your customers that you care until you’re blue in the face, but I’d recommend building companies that spend their time showing their customers that they care by their actions. In the meantime, since I don’t have another high speed internet alternative, I hope you’re listening @ComcastCares.

At the time (back in the 70s) was IBM the best option? Ehh, there were probably some upstarts that could have potentially been much better.

But did that matter to the guy who was putting his reputation or even his career on the line? Nope, not a bit! Fear, uncertainty and doubt led rational people to continually opt for the safe and conservative option.

Today we have a new president.

In the liberal tech world Hillary Clinton was IBM. Would she be the best President? Ehh, probably not. She was the safe & conservative option; with her at the helm the chances of the US self-destructing would have been slim. Instead, America interestingly said that it’s ok with a little fear, uncertainty and doubt, in the form of Donald Trump.

So what will Trump be? Will Trump be the garage upstart that disrupts the entrenched political machine and gets us out of our democratic rut? Or is he just a conman selling us vaporware, that hopefully won’t take the rest of the country down with him?

Let’s all hope it’s the former…

Absolutely! Electric cars will reduce our oil dependency and autonomous cars will reduce road deaths.

But what makes these advancements so intriguing is the second-order effects. Benedict Evans nails it:

And that’s not all. What about

  • The millions of truck, bus and Uber drivers who have jobs at stake
  • International relations in a world where the US isn’t as dependent on Middle Eastern oil
  • The consumption effects of wanting to replace a car as often as you upgrade your phone

These are two amazing slides. Thanks Benedict.

 

It’s the 8th of January so by now you’ve seen plenty of posts about setting new goals for the new year.

However, if you’re going to go through the effort of setting goals (which is a good first step), remember these tips for setting the right kind of goals so that the effects last throughout the year and you’re not off the wagon before the end of the month.

1. Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.pecific, M.easurable, A.ssignable, R.ealistic and T.ime-related (or some variation of that acronym).

2. Use the Aspire-Achieve-Do Method

Setup a goal framework that links your long term ambitions to daily and weekly habits.

3. Measure Your Results

How’d you do last year? I recommend aiming for a range of 60%-80% goal achievement. Any less and you probably didn’t have a good year or were unrealistic with yourself. Any more and you’re not stretching yourself enough. In any case, after you set your goals this year set regular reminders to check in on your progress.

You spend enough time with successful people and you start to notice something. They’re not batting 100%. They’re far from perfect and not too different from the rest of us.

So what’s different? Why do they come across like everything they touch turns to gold?

I’ve noticed a few common traits:

  • They don’t dwell on mistakes other than to learn; they fail fast and move on quickly
  • They promote their wins well leveraging the concept that success begets more successes
  • They appear to be lucky but are more often just taking more at bats than most

 

a16z partner Benedict Evans had an astute observation last week.

As voice-based interfaces improve what they can do (e.g. by adding more “skills”), how do you inform, train and perhaps most importantly remind end users of what they can do, without a GUI to do so?

Well, here are three ideas:

  1. Leverage recommendation engines (think Google Now, Netflix, etc) to proactively talk to users. For example, what if Alexa had motion sensing on it and when it saw me walk by the first time each day it told me what the weather was going to be
  2. Developers must design and build for a wider array of edge cases. For example, when listening to Pandora the phrases, “Thumbs up,” “I like this song,” and “Yes! More of this!” should all be able to rate the song higher.
  3. And probably easiest is to remember you do still have a GUI. For example, Alexa’s companion mobile app could use notifications and suggestions to help users maximize their Echoes. Yet in its current form the app feels like an afterthought.

Here’s a common question I hear teams ask their customers during product discovery:

Would you buy X if we built it?

That’s the wrong question to ask though. Customers’ expressed needs and wants often don’t match their actions. So how do you get around this problem?

Simple – assume you’ve already built it and start selling it. You don’t need a finished product to sell it; you don’t even need a prototype or an MVP. After all, that’s what many Kickstarters and other vaporware videos are. So you say:

We’ve built X. Want to buy it?

And then when (or really if) they say yes you follow up with, “GREAT! We’ll configure it for your team and that will be ready in N weeks. In the meantime let’s train your team so they’re ready to hit the ground running when the product is set up.”


Flown lately? If so, have you seen this sign?

Why Yes TSA, there are plenty of ways you could improve the airport security experience! But before that can happen you first need to improve how collect this feedback. And QR codes aren’t the answer.

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Recently our team gave a round of customer feedback demos to some customers, showing off a completely redesigned eVestment Input portal.

On the surface everything went perfect. After all, the users had consistently praised the new look. All our hard work had paid off.

If you looked closer though, we didn’t actually learn that much. Responses were generic & unactionable. And while positive, there wasn’t any hard evidence to back it the good things we hear. Instead, this became a good opportunity share some best practices on how to capture great customer feedback.

feedback

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Every company I’ve worked at – large or small, startup or big enterprise – has had a conference room problem.

One of two things inevitably happen:

  1. You can’t find an open conference room to book because they’re all already booked. Yet at meeting time the conference room goes unused because the original booker cancelled the meeting (but not the room reservation), had a recurring meeting that didn’t meet today, or heck, is no longer with the company.
  2. You get kicked out of your room by a more important meeting. Ever heard the, “I’m sorry but we have CLIENTS and need the room,” excuse?

What if there was a better way to use software to book conference rooms?

conference room booking system

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