Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Annoyance Factor

What is the Annoyance Factor and what is yours? The annoyance factor is the % of people that are less than happy with your product or service but not so unhappy as to complain. Complaining is good. When you get a complaint, if you are smart, you address the issue, fix the problem and make that complainer into a fan again. Happy people are good. They tell people about you, promote you, buy more products and services from you, etc. Happy people are advocates for your business. Then there are the people that fall in between. You might think you have a lot of happy customers, but what you may really have is a lot of people that are annoyed, but not so much that they will go to the trouble of changing. Cell phone companies are a good example. I had T-Mobile and had horrible service. I had to call from my driveway to get a connection. I was annoyed. I complained to everyone, but not to T-mobile because they were not going to build a tower just for me. Yet it took a full year before I switched services, because getting out of the contract seemed a hassle. I was within their annoyance factor from the beginning to the end of the relationship, waiting for an opportunity to leave. Today I went to McDonalds after a meeting. I just wanted a quick bite. The menu in one place said medium fries were $1. In another spot, a piece of tape was over the word medium. They charged me $1.40. I asked why, and they said they were in the process of changing it. The menu did not state the change, and I was annoyed. No, I am not going to stand in a McDonalds and argue about 40 cents, but I really did not want fries yet I said to myself, it is just $1 more, so I got them. Then they were $1.40. Then I wished I’d not got them because my “It’s only a dollar more” became a lie and I was overpaying for something that was not good for me anyway. That brings me to software. Think about the user interface with the annoyance factor in mind. Most people will find ways around software quirks. They learn to get around the little problems. But is your software really good, or just not really bad enough to generate complaints? If a large percent of your users are existing in the annoyance area, you are sitting on a time bomb. Any seemingly minor hiccup could trigger widespread desertion that could put you out of business. To determine your annoyance factor, do a customer survey and ask some specific questions in relation to satisfaction. Here are some sample customer service questions.

  • Would you strongly recommend us to someone if you knew they could benefit from our type of product or service?
  • Has our product or service not met your expectations in any way?
  • How would you rate our product or service? (Great Value, I got what I expected, Needs improvement. ) (A scale of 1-7 will give you better data.)
  • Have you ever received less than fantastic customer service from one of our employees?

More questions like this, with clear guides to what makes someone fall into the “Advocate/Happy” category, the “I hate you” category and the “just waiting to find someone better” category will help you identify your annoyance factor and start working on a strategy. The more you can move people up to happy and out of the annoyance realm, the more successful your organization will be.