- Don't assume user error: Sure, problems occur in the cockpit. But if you assume all problems are cockpit problems until the user proves otherwise, you'll end up turning a deaf ear to real bugs in your software. This was one of Toyota's mistakes.
- Read and listen for comprehension: I had to repeat myself at least three times before the techs I interacted with figured out I was trying to report a bug -- at least, I think they finally figured it out. I'm not sure, because none of the calls and correspondence that followed gave any indication Symantec understands I was reporting a bug.
- Make it easy for users to report bugs: Why wouldn't you? You want to fix them, don't you? More than any other aspect of this situation, I'm baffled as to why Symantec and every other software vendor doesn't have a Report Bugs Here tab on their websites. In the long run, this feature would pay for itself -- vendors would be able to fix bugs once instead of handling large numbers of tech support calls. I'd expect it to pay for itself for you, too.
It might appear that I'm picking on Symantec. I probably shouldn't. While the company's attempt at ensuring customer satisfaction was reflexive, inane, and entirely inappropriate to the actual situation, at least it made an attempt -- so should you, only yours should make actual sense with respect to the problems reported by your users.
This story, "When running IT as a business, don't start at the service desk," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bob Lewis's Advice Line blog on InfoWorld.com.