Wednesday, January 20, 2021

10.30am

This sign outside a church in Bath shows good design thinking. 

It's on a busy road but drivers might glance across.

We know it's a church. We know they meet on Sundays. The only thing that's worth saying legibly enough to be read at a glance is '10.30am'. And the sheer size of it gives a strong affordance of 'you're invited'.





Your call is important to them but they're busy helping other customers

After an awful customer service experience, you want to vent by writing it up on Trustpilot. But no one wants to read your fifty line rant.

So how about a simple scoring system, so you can say, for example:

"Cooperative Bank (to pick a brand at random... not really)
120 minutes time on phone
10 days to resolve my problem
225 Marks of Shame."

This way people would get a measure of the severity of distress caused but don’t have to relive it. The Marks of Shame would accumulate rather like the way they mark Olympic ice dancing, with each move given points for technical merit and artistic impression:

  • Each hour waiting on phone: 25 points
  • Each time The Four Seasons starts again: 10 points
  • Eine Kleine Nachtmusik: also 10 points
  • Each interruption of The Four Seasons, which you were beginning to enjoy, to tell you that your call is important to them: 5 points
  • Each minute listening to messages trying to deflect you to their website, which didn't answer your question, which is why you're calling now: 10 points
  • Are they busy helping other customers? (Shame on you for resenting the delay): 10 points
  • Each transfer to another department: 15 points
  • Each time data policy explained: 5 points
  • Each premature customer satisfaction survey: 25 points (seems harsh, but we need to come down hard on smugness)
  • Each time you swear out aloud although you don’t normally swear much: 10 points
  • Each time you hear yourself making sarcastic remarks to the robot voice even though you know it's a robot.
Addendum a week later: I've just remembered I blogged something similar a long time ago - it was a Beaufort scale for unclear documents. To remind you, the Beaufort scale describes wind force:

0. Calm. Ideas rise vertically from page to mind.
1. Light difficulty. Slower reading. Dictionary pages rustle.
2. Moderate difficulty. Reader lightly swaying; visible perplexity.
3. Difficulty. Head shaking, audible groaning.
4. Severe difficulty. Loud muttering, and music heard from helpline queue.
5. Very severe complexity. Foaming. Abrupt movement about room, with swearing.
6. Storm. Whole documents in motion, from table to floor.
7. Brainstorm. Considerable damage to conceptual structures.
8. Typhoo. Reader flattened in darkened room, with cup of hot sweet tea.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Throwing away the mail

I've just discovered the American poet Wendell Berry, who writes beautiful reflections on life, the countryside, the seasons, belonging. 

Throwing away the mail

Nothing is simple,
not even simplification.
Thus, throwing away 
the mail, I exchange
the complexity of duty
for the simplicity of guilt.

From The Peace of Wild Things, published by Penguin.