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Getting Real – Chapter 14

November 8, 2008

The 14th chapter of 37signals’ Getting Real mainly discussed about Support. Given below are the topics covered in this chapter:

  • Feel The Pain – Tear down the walls between support and development
  • Zero Training – Use inline help and FAQs so your product doesn’t require a manual or training
  • Answer Quick – Quick turnaround time on support queries should be a top priority
  • Tough Love – Be willing to say no to your customers
  • In Fine Forum – Use forums or chat to let customers help each other
  • Publicize Your Screwups – Get bad news out there and out of the way

The chapter explains customer value and how you, as a developer, manage them. Customers will always be the number one asset for you. As an IT practitioner, you must learn to create harmonious relationship with them. Being connected and participated with them gives you great impacts for your application. Their feedbacks serve as basis whether you should improve your product, remove unnecessary features, or add functionalities that people really demand.

37signals also highlighted about zero training. They advise that you should avoid of things to teach, to instruct, and to aid your users to their questions on how to operate or how to use your application. Since we already have the Internet, online training can be done immediately after your application is somehow up and running. Through the web, you avoid entertaining questions – and this keeps them to know their answers by themselves. Zero training happens because you use the Internet as a tool for communication – your answer inquiries and feedbacks from people online.

Potential users will always demand for quick responses especially if they are inquiring information about your application. What this chapter tells us is that you should have a least well-organized and established information that can be presented to your customers. These information should be something valid for them – acceptable in a way. We all know that we cannot answer their problems totally, but with this manner, we already give them the idea and brainstorm them into what extent the application is all about.

Customer is always right. This statement has been a notion for everyone in the past years and past decades. As a developer, we learn to say no every time they wanted to add something in our application. The best way to create your application is to know what features are important to have. Allowing your customers to give this kind of freedom would only result to negative impact to your application – your scope began to change, your time is now more consuming, your effort began to double up, and your cost would be increasing, eventually. Learn to control yourself in making your application. It is always good to stick on your instinct rather than getting too much demand from others.

In this chapter, ‘forums’ were also discussed. It is highly advisable to create forums in your site where people could freely access information about your application. Forums make your work productive in a way because you got to know what are the weaknesses and strengths of your application. Moreover, having forum discussions allow you to interact with online – helping them out if there are inquiries coming from them. Forums create a community where human conversations can be seen and can be heard. Having it online makes your work more efficient and more dynamic since intermediary is not part of the requirement anymore.

It is always important to interact with your people. If something goes wrong with your application, let them be informed with it. If improvements came up, notify them early as possible. Being connected allows knowing what the status of your application is. People will understand more about certain information about your application, and the things you have encountered could be a way to facilitate them properly. Being open with them is what everyone should do – stay honest, clear, and straightforward. Remember, a well-informed customer is your best customer.

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