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Hit Cancel for Credit

As I type this, I can almost hear the exchange I’m going to have with Stacy Reed, our Program Coordinator, when she reads this blog post:

Me:      “I wrote this week’s blog post.”

Stacy:  “I saw it.  It’s not a post; it’s a rant.”

Cancel the transactionFair enough.  But since you’re reading this, it’s obviously a post as well.

This post arises from a shopping trip this weekend in which I asked, for perhaps the thousandth time, “Just hit cancel for credit?” I knew the answer. I just asked it out of habit – simply to avoid that one-in-a-hundred chance that hitting the button with the red X on it would do what the button says it will do and cancel the transaction. Safer to ask.

The question that really should be asked, of course, is “why?”  Why do so many retail establishments tolerate a counter-intuitive interface for their most critical system?  Why hard wire even a little bit of customer frustration?  It simply makes no sense.

Not only that, but it’s been years.  It’s not like this customer credit card swipe phenomenon is new to retail point-of-sale processing. Today, I’m surprised when I walk into a store and they don’t have it.So why do only a perceptive few in the retail world have a “credit” button?

Pushing past my headshaking, what I really wondered while standing at the cash register in Target this weekend was: “what questions do our procedures force our clients to ask over and over again?”Those are the questions that demonstrate the kinks on our systems.  Well thought-out procedures are designed to answer these questions before they’re asked.  Questions like:

  • “When can I expect my order?
  • “What’s the status of our project?”
  • “Did that letter go out?”

Sure, anyone in your organization can answer those questions upon inquiry.  But if you do more than that, if you actually contemplate those questions, you can do better than answer a question, you can improve a company.