March 20, 2005

I help, You Help. You Help, I Help!

Till now I have been rambling about how it is important to have a good customer focus and how its really important to nail down the specs. Get something wrong and suddenly you are the target of a lot of customer ire. Ship a product with a glaring bug and find yourself losing a big chunk of your market share. But how much ever perfect one would try to be, a product will be shipped with bugs.

Today let me talk about how you, as a customer could help in making a better software.

Report bugs. Its simple.

Lets take Visual Studio as an example. A very well made software (yes, I know there are bugs, but looking at the complexity of the system - I think some bugs are expected). But here is how you can help. When you are working happily along and a terrible crash occurs, a much dreaded dialogue comes up which says something like -
“Microsoft Development Environment has encountered a problem and needs to close.”

And then a little farther down it says…

“Please tell Microsoft about this problem.

We have created an error report that you can send to help us improve Microsoft Development Environment. We will treat this report as confidential and anonymous.

To see what data this error report contains, click here.”

Then you see three buttons: Debug, Send Error Report, and Don’t Send.

Now this is where as a customer/user you could help. After all you are using the product. So why not make it better? Finally its for your benefit!

The above mentioned is known as Watson. When you hit the "Send Error Report" a
minidump is sent to the server at Microsoft.

Why am I saying all this? Because I have seen people hit - "Dont Send". I know co-workers (where I work as of 20 March 2005) who spend a long chunk of their day on MS Word and have many crashes. When the Watson Dialogue pops up, they just say "Damn Word" and hit the dont send.

Unfortunately not many people know about Watson. I am sure if they knew what happens behind the scenes they would hit the "Send" button. Altho nothing can be as clear as - "Please tell Microsoft about this problem." But the user is anyways pissed off with Microsoft since what he was working on crashed (consider this user to be someone not highly adept in computers). Now when he finds another screen saying "report the problem" - irritated users says "NO". Dont ask me why - but I have seen this mentality.

Similiar with the Google pop-up blocker. Google suggests that if some pop-up manages to pass through the blocker, to report it.
What page you found the pop-up on and properties. Now, how many of us would actually report that? Very few! How many would say "Damn this pop-up blocker!!!" whenever a pop-up appears? I see all hands go up.

This is a two way process. Software teams can only provide you a certain level of security. Testers try to advocate for every end user. But unfortunately thats not possible. The end user has to help the tester too. I can help you only if you can help yourself. The next time - do yourself a favor and hit that "Send Error report" button. After that you have the full right of saying - "Damn ".


Blogger abhi said...

Its a part of human psyche to not act upon suggested actions when in distress.

Instead of using "Send Error Report" as the upfront display, an alternative like "Fix this" could well save the day for the providers and help make a better product.

"Send report" gives away too much of a negative vibe to the end-user. The user is built up to believe that the provider was waiting for an eventuality like this and actually wants to get away with murder.
"Fix this" essentially does the same but has calmer seas attached to it. There is a touch of assurance here which "Send error report" doesn't.

Mind you, the provider has to take care that they're not shelling out false pieces of information. This can always be elaborated in finer print.

Task for the day: think of a ui term similar to "fix .." "fix this"

6:54 AM  
Blogger infected said...

I like the terminology concept that Abhi puts forth. With regards to Windows and Watson, I think here in India, the problem exists in the fact that most of the people that can contribute, have no valid OS license and hence are skeptical about sending information to MS. As it is, everyone "hates" MS with absolutely no valid reason and are convinced that Ms will possibly sue them for a million dollars if they are caught using a pirated OS.

Did i HAVE to talk, this is the most useless trinket of information i have come up with ...

Sorry for corrupting your blog Apoo.

3:21 AM  
Blogger APOO said...

Gee Alap,

Its not corrupting. There is probably a big vision in your comments. Maybe MS needs to bring their software prices down such that it doesnt pinch your pocket to get a original version of the OS. Lots to see in this statement of yours.

9:15 AM  

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