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    November 26th, 2015

    ♫ Confusion’s all I see
    Frustration surrounds me
    Solution, bid farewell…♫

    Lyrics and music by Deryck Whibley, recorded by Sum 41.

    frustration

    (Image: Creative Commons license, courtesy of Evil Erin)

    I had to rent a car today. The reasons are not terribly relevant except to say that I didn’t need any additional stress in my day.

    The car that I rented was a 2015 Chrysler 200. Nice car. Peppy, nice bluetooth that connected to my Blackberry without any difficulty and great satellite radio when I was not on the phone. I enjoyed the vehicle.

    All that changed when I pulled in to fill the tank before returning it. Now I have been driving for decades and have also rented many rental vehicles. I don’t think much about filling them up with gas.  What could be easier, right?

    I pulled into the filling station and got out only to find that the gas cap had a door over it that didn’t have a finger dent that allowed you to open it from the outside. OK no worries.  Went back into the car and started looking for the release button or lever…and looked and looked…everywhere.  All the other cars around me were filling up and driving away while I sat there and went thru the car with a fine-toothed comb.  Not on the dash. Not in the glove box. Not on the door. Nothing. Nada. Complete blank.  OK then …next step: take out the owners manual.  Give it a quick scan..nothing in the Table of Contents.  Check the Index…both silent on how to open the gas cap door.

    Got  out and looked at the door again. Pushed and prodded, tried to pry it open…I even said “Open Sesame.”  Nada.

    Getting back into the car, I started going thru the owners manual carefully. Being a lawyer I am accustomed to looking closely and trying to find something in a long document. Believe me I covered every page. There was a complete absence of any mention of the fundamental task of how to open the gas cap door.

    Third step: grab my Blackberry and start searching.  Turns out I am not the only person who has had difficulties in trying to figure out how to open the gas cap door on various Chrysler vehicles.  Problem is all their proposed solutions didn’t work.  And there were a lot of them.  Nice car but in this instance, bad design combined with no explanation.

    I finally head home, sans any gas and change into more comfortable clothes only to start searching on the Internet with a bigger screen and a proper keyboard.  Finally find a site that says that the gas cap is pressure sensitive and you have to press in just the right area to cause it to pop open.

    From that point onwards, driving to a filling station, popping the cap and filling the car and returning it was all straightforward except for all the unnecessary frustration caused by the whole experience. Since this is obviously a vehicle used by many car rental companies, there must be many, many others out there who have or will shortly go thru the same needless experience.

    Trying to make lemonade from these lemons, I turned to my usual technique which is to try to learn from the experience and place it in a wider context by writing about it.

    Why didn’t Chrysler think to put something in the owners manual to tell people who are unfamiliar with the car how to do a task as simple as fill it with gas?  Beats me but it must have been an oversight by someone. You can have the greatest product imaginable but if people can’t figure out how to use it, it is really an expensive paperweight or worse.

    As lawyers we can deliver a fabulous service for clients but if they don’t understand what is happening or what is expected, they could experience a great deal of frustration with the process. I once talked to a lawyer who drew a process map (or as I used to call them a flow chart…thank you Darin Thompson for pointing out that this was the term used in the Dark Ages) for his clients. This process map showed graphically what would be happening in his client’s case, what to expect when and in what order.

    I thought it was a great idea at the time. I think it is an even better idea today after my experience.

    Our services may be well understood by us but for someone not familiar with the legal system, they could find the experience to be baffling, confusing and frustrating. We can help them a lot by outlining graphical ways that explain whatever it is that will be happening to them. We can also streamline the justice system to make it more straightforward from a design perspective to simplify the process.

    What we don’t want is these people claiming that the entire legal system is failing them and that the solution is to bid farewell with lawyers and their present way of doing things.

     

     

     

     

    This entry was posted on Thursday, November 26th, 2015 at 8:21 am and is filed under Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Tips, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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