Last night my wife and I hit our favorite tex-mex diner for some enchiladas (for her) and fajitas (for me). They’re a family owned and operated business so I cut them a lot of slack in their service since some of their kids work as wait staff. However last night everything seemed like a metaphor for Product Management. Case in point:
- They got mixed up somewhere and initially sent some other table’s food to us. It was late and so I almost ate it anyway and would have been happy to do so. Lesson: when the customer is hungry to buy from YOU, a suboptimal solution may suffice – it doesn’t have to be perfect, so ship it!
- When they finally got our food out, my wife’s arrived first, and I waited…and waited…and waited. I’ll let it go because I like the place but when I’m ready to eat, putting someone else’s food under my nose is torture. Lesson: Don’t ship halfway. Suboptimal may be ok only when you meet the minimum requirements, so be sure you understand what they are (in this case feeding both of us).
- Finally my fajitas came out, and the “fixins” plate did not have shredded cheese! Aside from the fact that serving fajitas without cheese should be a felony in Texas, it broke my expectations and I had to order it on the side. Lesson: If you know your solution differs significantly from the rest of the market, make it known. “We don’t include that feature because it would drive the cost of the product 30% higher, but you can order the add-on and get it.” You don’t need infinite configurability, but thoughtful customers will appreciate your honesty and evaluate their true need for the feature.
- Last, I ordered corn tortillas in an effort to keep my carbs down. When they brought them to me, they only brought two – for a plate full of fajita meat! Lesson: Ship your product with enough consumables to last the customer a reasonable amount of time. Don’t make them turn right back around and order more consumables as soon as they’ve placed their opening order.