I don’t often post about the day-to-day details of my job. Whether it’s just boring or actually confidential, I don’t often get into specifics. But today I was faced with an interesting and practical question.
My manager forwarded me some excerpts from Customer Satisfaction Surveys done during December of 2008. These were from ControlCenter customers who had service requests completed during the month and were asked some questions and given the chance to comment. Obviously these were customers who were already unhappy, having been forced to file service requests in the first place. There were a number of comments which weren’t very flattering — both about issues in the product, and about our field response to those issues.
I was torn on whether to send along the excerpts to my team. As software developers working on the guts of the product, they certainly must be on board if we’re going to improve some of the quality issues where the users had complaints. On the other hand, there is nothing my team can do to improve field response times, the performance of PowerLink, and so forth. If I share with them unedited comments about the entirety of the users’ pain, am I motivating them to do what they can or just demotivating because there are other problems they can’t fix?
In the end, I sent an edited version of the email on to my team. And here’s why – I have to trust my team to do the right thing, no matter what else is going on. I look at the list of values we’re supposed to operate under and I see things like Empowered Decision Making, Leadership, Teamwork, and Accountability. You don’t say you value those things and then hide behind “well it’s not [entirely] our fault.” There’s a phrase we invoke quite often here at EMC called Total Customer Experience (TCE). TCE doesn’t end when you hand off your software to the quality assurance team. If we’re going to embrace the challenges ahead of us and actually bring this product ahead in quality and usability we need to see the whole picture, start to end … even if that picture isn’t always pretty.
The decision wasn’t a simple one though, and other managers have told me they wouldn’t have done the same. So I ask you all: what would you do?
(To be fair, I did edit out some comments which I felt would only serve to distract from the message. Maybe I chickened out … but I like to think I took a practical approach to a tricky question.)