Discovery: Beware the trap of easy!

Nearly two years later, it finally clicked.

I often tell new customers how I hated the product when I was a new customer myself. It’s an easy way to build trust up front, but even though I always explain why I hated the product back then (and how the support I was provided made me a true believer), I didn’t uncover the root cause of that hate until this week.

I’d always chalked it up to a lack of formal onboarding—I wasn’t trained how to use the product. A big part of my job is showing new customers how to use our tool to do what they want it to do. I didn’t get that. I got a five minute tour by my boss and a Google Drive full of forgotten content ideas.

It’s not that I wasn’t trained—it’s that the product was so intuitive, I didn’t expect obstacles.

Let’s say you’ve never used Linux before and decide to upgrade an old Windows machine to Ubuntu. You read the how-to, download the files, burn the iso, and actually get Ubuntu up and running first try. But the internet doesn’t work. You google around a bit, try a few things in Terminal, Sudo makes you a sandwich, but nothing works.

That’s frustrating, right? But if you’re honest, you kinda expected you’d run into something like this so it’s no big deal.

Now let’s say you’re ordering a hamburger. You don’t like cheese, so you didn’t order a cheeseburger. In fact, by ordering a hamburger instead of a cheeseburger, you’re easily implying you don’t want cheese on your burger. But this clever, new joint you’re at puts cheese on all their burgers unless you specifically say “no cheese” and your burger comes out covered in golden, melted cheese.

Infuriating, right? You didn’t order a cheeseburger. You ordered a hamburger. WTF.

That’s the trap of easy.

Be aware of situations where something new feels intuitively natural. It causes you to let your guard down. Which makes even the smallest, most petty setbacks seem insurmountable obstacles.

If you think it will be hard and it is, it’s just hard.

But if you think it will be easy and it throws you the slightest curve, it’s unbearable.

Something I’m going to start pointing out to my new customers from now on.

Calling their bluff

Three strikes. You’re out.

The first time you tell me you were promised something I know—without a doubt—my sales rep would never—ever—promise, I’m going to try and make it happen for you. Because we care about exceeding expectations.

The second time you tell me you were promised something I know—without a doubt—my sales rep would never—ever—promise, I’m going to drop everything and give you the option to bail out of your annual contract in the first month. Because if it’s a deal breaker, let’s break the deal and get back to work.

But if you don’t take the walk—if you decide it wasn’t a deal breaker after all—we’re gonna do some cool shit.

The Contract & The Golden Rule

If you deal with contracts and cancellations, I’d appreciate your thoughts on this one.

The Contract

Contracts are these legally binding things that formalize agreement. I will pay you X for Y, for Z period of time. Contracts provide security and stability. They enable growth and improvement.

Contacts reduce risk. And therefore price.

The Golden Rule

But what happens when the customer can’t pay? What happens when the big deal falls through, they’ve cut staff, and they have to keep cutting? It’s unfortunate, but such is life.

Haven’t we all walked a mile in those shoes?

I’m torn.

#000000 is pretty much, “Fuck you. Pay me. I’ll get my pound of flesh.” Which works, I guess, until there’s no money left after the assets are sold off to pay the lienholders and attorneys.

Being hardcore about the contract can ultimately lead to being a despised bag holder.

#FFFFFF looks like, “I’m sorry to hear that and hope this helps.” Which works, I guess, until there’s no money left for payroll because there’s no reliable source of revenue.

Pollyannas can get left holding the bag in their own right.

I know it’s not black and white. There are SO many variables.

So where do you draw the line?

If you can’t or don’t want to pay anymore, I’d rather you leave on a positive, helpful note. Will some people take advantage? Of course, but how many more will have good things to say about the brand?

At the same time, you kinda promised you’d live up to your end of the deal. Good vibes don’t pay the bills.