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Newsletter #851: The “Find and Fix Problems” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

In a world where “good enough” isn’t good enough anymore, you can’t afford any slips in quality. Your mission should be to seek out problems and be quick to fix them. A few ways you could do it:

1. Ask every time they use it
2. Make everyone accountable for quality
3. Pay attention to the reviews
4. Check it out: The FontFonter

1. Ask every time they use it

If you want feedback, opinions, and ideas for your stuff, just ask. Every time you finish a call with Skype, you’re asked to rate the call quality with 1 – 5 stars. If it wasn’t perfect, a second screen has checkboxes you can use to note what went wrong, and there’s also an open line where you can enter more details. Because of this, Skype gets instant, real-time data on how things are working. They always know when things break and where to devote resources to make Skype better.

The lesson: Getting customers to help you make better stuff is easier than you think. Just ask nicely. They’re glad to do it.

2. Make everyone accountable for quality

If no one owns it, there’s nobody to take responsibility when quality slips. At Me and Goji cereal, each of their containers is autographed by the person that handmade it — and each lid has the CEO’s personal cell phone number on it. There are no phone trees or forms to go through — if it’s broke, the highest level of the company will immediately know about it. This process means that the front-line worker is inspired to make it great (because their name is on it), and customers know exactly who to talk to if something isn’t quite right.

The lesson: Let employees own it, and make it easy for customers to go straight to the top when there’s an issue.

Learn more: 37signals

3. Pay attention to the reviews

Customer reviews are a world of comments, feedback, and complaints you can use to find problems and make things better. At California Tortilla, they’re actively searching Twitter, Yelp, and blogs for any issues raised by customers. When they find something, they reach out with a simple message: “Please email us so we can make it up to you.” Because they’re actively listening, they’re able to identify any problems before they become something bigger. This also gives them the chance to win over frustrated customers, and to show everyone else they actually care.

The lesson: Remember: Just because they’re not talking directly to you doesn’t mean they’re not talking.

Learn more: SmartBrief

4. Check it out: The FontFonter

Curious how your website would look with different fonts? With FontFonter, just enter your URL and pick the font and style you want to try out. It’s easy, instant, and you don’t have to change any code to do it.

Learn more: FontFonter

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