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No one else has complained

This week I am on vacation, but you would have thought I was on vacation the last month if you were monitoring my blog. Truth is, when your day job(s) pushes back, something has to give. But I'll keep trying harder. ;-)

As I said, I am on vacation and these days a key amenity at any hotel, whether for business or pleasure, is internet access and most notably WiFi (keeping those iPads, iPhones, iPods and computers connected). So first thing I do is check WiFi availability, and find I have none. :( Then I check for wired access and find there is no cable, but the hotel services guide says there is wired access. So I go to the front desk to ask "What's the deal?" and try to get this sorted. 

First I ask about WiFI, and find out it from the woman behind the desk that it should be working. I say it isn't and that I even walked down the hall through several buildings also finding no service. :-( :-(

This is where the "classic" customer service response comes in. The woman at the desk says scoffingly, "That can't be, no one else has complained." Customer is always right? So now I have to convince her I know what I am doing, and just to back it up I mention that another guest a few buildings away earlier told me he also was having trouble (which he solved by purchasing an Apple Airport Express). She says, "I'll contact the IT person," as an imaginary black hole of response opens in my mind. In the end she gives me an ethernet cable ("Are you suer there isn't one by the phone?") and I am gone.

My point with this diatribe is two fold: 1) You cannot wait for a customer to complain (or several to be sure there is a real problem) in order to find your "problems" or bugs; and 2) If and when a customer does complain, take it seriously. For the developer this means thinking about the customer use cases, not just the designed-for cases but the weirdo cases as well, the so called "corner" cases. Some of the best testing, as far as uncovering nasty-good bugs, has come from undirected or "ad hoc" testing, but this is probably the case because in these uncontrolled circumstances one is more comfortable performing the "weirdo cases (or corner cases, if you insist).

If I applied this to the hotel WiFi system, I (as hotel general manager) would set up a procedure where at least once a day someone would walk through the buildings or the grounds where WiFi is expected and verify it is there (easy with a WiFi-enabled phone, just start streaming a YouTube video and go walk around). I am sure there are more comprehensive (read expensive) sensor systems that can be employed, but who could reject a procedure that only requires an individual to walk around.

Oh, and just to be fair, about a day and a half later WiFi miraculously appeared in my room. Happy surfing 8-)

 

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