A few days ago, videos stopped playing nicely on one of the computers we use here at The World Headquarters.
It happened right after a Firefox update. Now, while it’s not a computer (or browser) I use very often, other team members use it regularly and they need to watch videos from time to time. I spent the better part of an hour diagnosing the problem (since I’m the I.T. guy around here) and after reading a lot of web postings in which Mozilla blamed Adobe (it’s a Flash problem), and vice-versa (it’s fine on other browsers) and where they both blamed Real Player, I’d had enough. I had spent several more hours updating video drivers, uninstalling and reinstalling components, tweaking settings, rolling back to old versions, and wading through the general snark that’s around the various support sites that mention this issue. No, it’s not resolved, but it’s not an issue any more. I installed Chrome on the damn thing and that is that.
So here’s the broader business point. According to Adobe’s site, the issue is fixed. Mozilla says the same since they give you a few workarounds. How can I sum that up politely? Hogwash? A load of crap? Who are you going to believe – me or your lying eyes? The very last thing we as businesspeople want is for our installed base (customers to you non-tech types) to migrate to an alternate solution (blow us off for a competitor, in English). I’ve been using Firefox since the early days. I’m now gone forever, and I understand I’m not alone.
How would I have handed it? Transparently: we have a problem, we don’t have a fix that works for sure so we’re suggesting you roll back to an earlier version – here’s the link as to how to do it. I’d say it loudly and in as public a way as I could. I certainly would NOT suggest users turn off high-end video acceleration (those cards are expensive), uninstall other software, disable virus protection (seriously?) or muck about in configuration files that are best left to people with Computer Science degrees.
Stuff happens. It doesn’t go away when we deny it, minimize the issue, or suggest things we don’t know for sure will solve the problem. The only thing that does go away are customers. We’re happily watching video on another browser. People have choices about most products. Keep that in mind and work hard to earn their trust and business. You’ll need it when the fan is turned on and something hits it.