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Bug or Opportunity?

So you’ve built something neat and it’s heading to production soon.

You’ve got pretty good test coverage and your tests are meaningful. You tried to break it as much as you could and couldn’t find any show stopping bugs. You’re proud of your work.

The customer should be grateful to have someone so thoughtful and… uh oh, the customer just sent you an email titled “NOTHING WORKS IN PROD! PLEASE FIX”. All caps can’t be good.

They must be doing something wrong. Someone probably fiddled with a config setting they shouldn’t have or used IE. It could be a bug in the framework.

You move past denial and into acceptance. Nope. It’s a bug and it’s something you didn’t anticipate. You screwed up big time, or so you think…

Hold on to your figurative negative horses, it’s not over yet. This is where the test of your customer service mojo begins. Your next few actions could determine whether the customer forever remembers a negative experience with us or if they become an advocate for our quality and service.

Ask someone who likes Costco why they like Costco. Chances are they won’t tell you they just like buying big stuff that wasn’t on their shopping list when they entered the store. For a lot of people, it’s the amazing return policy. You can return almost anything with or without the receipt anytime. When something goes wrong and you aren’t happy, they make sure that the path to you being happy again is free of obstacles. It’s easy and quick. They listen to you and get right to solving your problem. You just can’t help but love them even more than you would have if nothing had gone wrong in the first place.

My experiences with clients have some similarities. When teams I’ve worked with have been responsive to calls for help and fixed issues quickly, the customer also became an advocate for the team. They probably liked us more than they would have if everything had gone smoothly.

Now, I’m not saying that you should add bugs so that you can fix them and trick clients into loving you. But I do think that we should all keep in mind that fixing issues is often a great opportunity to turn a frustrated person into a fan, depending on how valued you make them feel when they need help and how effective you are at solving their problem.

Remember that your ability to quickly investigate, reproduce, and fix issues in production will partly depend on the quality of the logging you’ve built into your solution. So take the time now to make sure that future you can thank present you for having the right context data and tools available after inevitably receiving that email titled “HELP EVERYTHING IS BROKEN”.