Web Reliability

30. Guide Benevolently

Mitchell Kimbrough
Written January 1, 2020 by
Mitchell Kimbrough
Founder

A critical part of positioning yourself as a reliable guide is providing consistent assurances to customers that your intentions are benevolent. Orchestrate experiences that demonstrate you have their best future state in mind. Make it clear your priority is what benefits them. Your intention matters. It’s important that your web app was not put on this earth to mislead or misdirect. If it was, you can walk away from this Web Reliability Framework conversation. It's not for you.

Customers can sense when they are being actively misled. They can also tell when they are not being guided effectively. And they will judge accordingly. All too often our web applications fail to guide customers quickly and easily to their desired future state. It’s clear your customer needs a new mattress, but do they also truly need to look at new pillows along the way to fulfilling a new mattress order? Maybe you had benevolent intentions and wanted to address their future likely need for pillows. Or maybe it’s that you just revealed your greed and lost your customer's trust. How the customer experiences the path to that mattress purchase makes all the difference.

Benevolent guidance ensures that the valuable motivation the customer brought to your site is not squandered. Get them to their desired destination effectively and pleasurably, they will know they’re valued. Build in detours along the way, and you’ve made it clear they are not the hero of the story, just a distraction from your profit. Benevolent guidance takes the customer’s initial positive impulse to complete a quest and fuels it kindly. This way their motivation to complete the task at hand stays strong from beginning to end.

My company built a complex system for a client once, one that provided the standard 'customers who bought this also bought these other things' messaging and functionality. The system analyzed the customer's browsing history and suggested other products they might be prompted to purchase. The database queries and code supporting this activity were very cumbersome. The user interface clogged up the pipes and as it turned out, also confused the customer. In the end, after much expense and time were squandered, we all realized this system was a complete waste of time. In our case, it served only to annoy and frustrate the customer. Though we began with benevolent intentions, we failed to stay true to our own goodwill. We allowed the distraction of up-selling to creep in. We undermined customer purpose and motivation and built failure into an otherwise successful web system.

Guide benevolently and you will achieve longevity and reliability by staying true to your customer's trust.

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