How to Not Own a Problem

Any of you know evernote? It is a great little tool that allows users to clip, tag and access web clippings, pdfs and other files. I depend on this tool and its safari plug-in greatly and I imagine many other people do as well.

One of Evernote’s nicest features is its web clipping plug-in for browsers, including safari. A few days ago Apple upgraded Safari and the plug-in stopped working, and apparently needed major upgrade. How should a company address such a situation?

Today, several days after the safari upgrade during which the plug-in was not operational, Evernote sent its subscribers this e-mail:

What can we learn from this e-mail?

  • Apple has upgraded Safari (which we already know) and it is very different to what we had until now
  • Evernote are working hard (which we don’t really care about, we pay subscription to fund that)
  • Apparently they have no clue when a new release will be available
  • … and they do not plan to notify us when it is released

To add insult to injury, Evernote decided for its customers that their tool not working is a “small hassle”. This statement presents two questions: First, how do they know how big the hassle is? and second, if their tool being severely handicapped is a small hassle, why should anyone pay for it?

Now, beside the fact that the link they recommend does not work, what should a company do to deliver news like these:

  • Tell the users something they do not know but care about, for example, when will the new release be available
  • Do not make assumptions about the problem’s impact on your users (hint: do not use “small hassle”)
  • Commit to following0-up, communicate progress and the availability of the new release in the same way you communicated the problem

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