Attempting to remember the exact name of one of my wife’s non-close friends, I realised I was having image associations for certain names. I thought the friend’s name was something like ‘Bertrand’, and this image came to mind:

Sliced Beetroots

Sliced beetroots like you’d find in a can of beetroots. Like the word ‘Bertrand’, it’s soft on the edges but flexibly holds it’s shape.

I clarified the friend’s name with my wife, and it turned out to be ‘Beatrice’. So this image came to mind:

Purple spring onions

Purple spring onions. The ‘trice’ in ‘Beatrice’ is just like the taste of onion: sharp, fresh and white. Yet the image I had was a purple spring onion. Perhaps ‘Be’ is purple.

I recognised this symbol habit I’ve had for a long time—since childhood I’m very sure—but it’s not come into consciousness for a while. Perhaps it was a way to learn and remember the names of things, although today’s episode felt like a pure language-image association. It’s not synaesthesia. Can anyone tell me more about what this kind of sensation is?

NAB no reply redux.

Today I received an email from NAB:

We’ve learnt that whilst money’s important, it’s not what matters most. And that’s because life is about more than money. It’s about experiences, the connections we share and the relationships we build.

Another one-sided conversation. And I’m not hiring the NAB for life coaching. I just want control of my money. Because double-entry bookkeeping. Because what gets measured gets managed. Don’t take my money then re-market to me, build me a better service.

NAB no reply.

Here’s a picture from my phone of the National Australia Bank letting me know that my recent trample into their customer service desk to vent my frustration was now a closed case.

NAB No Reply message

Firstly, it wasn’t closed because there was no resolution. Secondly, I bet they class this one-way SMS as ‘customer engagement’. And I love how it comes from ‘NABNoReply’ because it now looks like their slogan.

Then I got this Gerry McGovern post in my email:

Communicator: Thank you for your feedback. We always strive to listen to our customers and respond to your needs.
Customer: No you don’t.

So then, of course, I posted my picture on twitter along with Gerry’s post link and got a NAB rep (or bot?) in reply. Did I feel like re-explaining the three month case history from scratch with yet another rep? No.

As a designer, this makes me think that 1) ‘user experience design’ is mostly about deeply understanding a task, then designing agency (such as a digital interface) that enables the task’s completion quickly and repeatably, and 2) that ‘customer service’ has inherently the same goals.

So rather than nice branding, and timely-but-inconsequential engagement, I think NAB—and service organisations of the like—should build services that just work. The marketing will eventually be the product.

I have no doubt that building a service that works, and works for all customers, is very difficult. Far more difficult than my Dad realises. But as a customer, nobody cares. Unless it works.

When the fintech finally comes along that makes it too easy for people to leave, everyone will.

Start with a shit kick, then polish.

I’ve practiced karatedo for almost two years, and I’m a Beginner. I’ve always been a sporting natural but when it came to martial arts, I had to accept that I was just plain clueless.

Co-ordinating just one move fluidly? Difficult. Co-ordinating both left and right sides of an action were doubly difficult. Remembering that action in the following lesson, difficult again. Combining that action with another in sequence, both sides, compound difficult. And then learn their Japanese names, and then understanding their applications from kata, all difficult. And that’s just physical actions. We’re not even talking right effort, right mind yet.

Here is a video of mawashi-geri (roundhouse kick). We were practicing this kick the other night. I’d been working with uke—the person who “receives” a technique, that is, the training partner—for about five minutes, my kicking leg pulled up and out like a wing, high and round, then snapping out to and back from the body of uke. It was, as usual, difficult, and I was stuffed.

Sensei—literally “person born before another”—walked over and said “great, and now you should try to relax”. We both paused, breathing heavily. “Here’s a quick story” he continued, “not exactly a Japanese way of explaining it, more a Cairns way”.

Start with a shit kick. Then polish it on the next go. This way you’re not trying so hard, which means you’re not tense. Tension makes everything slower.

That hit me. Because I have perfectionist tendencies—for better and worse—I tend to try too hard.

I’m pretty sure you can apply the Shit Kick quip to most kinds of practice, and come out better for it. Action. Check. Action better. In software terms, this is the “shipping beats perfection” mantra. In human terms, this is the Samuel Beckett quote.

Perfect needs unperfect first.