You’re reading Hot dogs and eggs, a blog by Chris Gallo since 2014.

Workarounds

This post will take you about 2 minutes to read.


You can’t do that.

Why would you do that? That’s stupid.

These were the thoughts running through my head as I was reading an email from a customer.

I couldn’t believe what they were suggesting. It felt wrong.


A huge lesson I am learning when interacting with customers every day is to be careful telling someone they can’t do something.

Why?

Imagine how it feels to be told you can’t do this or you can’t do that. It stinks.

For example, customers asked us, “How can I pin a note across the top of a contact’s page?”

You can’t do that. This is the response I tried on for awhile, and no one really got any satisfaction out of it. Me included.

One day a customer took me to school with a clever hack. You can change the date a note is entered in Highrise.

Say you have 3 notes:

  1. The first note is dated November 1, 2015.
  2. The second note is dated October 29, 2015.
  3. And the third note is dated October 11, 2015.

notes-1.png

The notes will appear in chronological order with the most recent note first. What if you want the third note to show first?

You can’t do that.

Oh, but you can. Edit the date of the first note. Change the year to 2016, and boom, the notes are ordered like this:

notes-2.png

My first reaction was that is wrong. And you shouldn’t do that. But after I acknowledged it is a clever trick, I became curious.

“Why are you trying to pin notes?” I asked.

“Because there is really important information we cannot miss about this contact and it is in this note. We missed it once because it was down the page, and it cost us,” the customer answered.

Wow. That makes total sense. And all it took was a question about what someone is trying to do.

Adjusting the date to the time in the future became one of our team’s favorite customer hacks. It was an incredible workaround.

So incredible that our team took the time to make it possible to pin notes. Our CEO, Nathan, details why we did it.


The truth is your product isn’t perfect. It has rough edges. It can’t do everything and anything. And it shouldn’t be able to.

But even if certain things might seem impossible, don’t be so quick to believe they are.

Instead of telling someone they can’t do something, try explaining how it could be possible.

Get into a conversation.

Ask questions. Try to understand what they are trying to do. Think. Find a hack that might help.

This is where the magic happens. Where you learn why people are using your product and what they’re trying to do.

Look for workarounds.