Managing frustrations

Under promise, over perform

The Apple Watch example

The Apple Watch is one of the most frustrating device ever created by Apple. The team at Apple has managed for certain features frustration well. But for other features they weren’t capable of doing it. 
When Apple introduced its Watch, they knew that the battery was much lower than the other smartwatches. It just wasn’t possible to give a week of battery life with a full-color retina display. The battery of the Apple Watch lets you enjoy the device for a bite more than a day. In comparison to the Pebble Watch, which was the standard at the time, it was just a no-go. When the product came out, all major testers and journalist wrote in positive reviews. They were especially happy and surprised about the battery. Apple didn’t change anything, but people were happy. How did they manage that? Apple misinformed all major newspapers and blogs. It told them that the battery of the Watch could keep on until 8 hours. So, before the launch you could read in the news how that was terrible. But then on the launch, the journalists got a watch that they could use for more than a day. They expected to be able to use it just during business hours. Apple marketing used here the rule: «Under promise, over perform».

Kill the feature

When you can’t keep a promise

The Apple watch managed frustration well for the battery. But there is an other feature of the product where Apple sucked. From day one you can install apps on your Apple Watch. Great, this makes the Watch a pretty complete device. But in reality, you can't use these apps. They take so much time to launch that you can’t use them. All the non-Apple apps are just impossible to use. Here Apple marketing promised a great feature, but they under performed. When you can’t outperform your promise, you should just kill the feature. The first iPhone hadn’t third party apps at all. It hadn’t apps that weren’t working. What you promised to people is what they got. And it’s still today one of the most appreciated smartphones in the world.

Frustration in services

Timing frustrations

When you design services, there are some frustrations you have to put in place. These can be for example waiting times, legal procedures that you can’t avoid, etc. There are a few tricks to manage the frustration in such situations. First, as Apple did it inform people well: make the frustration clear and obvious. The second aspect is something specific to services: timing. You can put the frustrations at specific times. Welcome someone well, and then frustrate them a bite. Then again bring something amazing. The start and the finish of a service should never be frustrating. In the middle of these phases test out what is the best timing. The timing of the frustrations in a service is something that can be creative. So play with it. Prototype and iterate until you find the best timing. You have to find the best combination of ups and downs. 

We can manage frustrations in products or services. We should of course first consider how we could remove them. If we can’t, we should make the frustration obvious by under promising. Then we can pack the frustration with some lollipops moment. It will then make the frustration disappear in the overall positive experience.