A Short Video is Worth a Hundred Emails

One of the ‘joys’ of consulting is the language difference between developers and the customer.  Developers have a ‘language’ and clients have a completely different ‘language’.  A perfect example is when a customer says ‘the application crashed’ and trying to interpret that.  I usually end of asking, did this crash mean a dialog appeared saying something happened (an exception was caught), or that the app just went ‘poof’ and disappeared (something way more serious).  For Xojo developers those two definitions of ‘crash’ mean totally different things.  Those nuances mean nothing to the customer.

Email is a notoriously bad way to communicate.  It’s easy miss details, or worse yet, misconstrue intention.  It’s easy to read anger, annoyance, or <insert feeling here>, that the sender did not imply.

We’ve had instances where we go round and round with a client via email on some detail when a simple phone call would have solved the issue within five minutes.  I know it’s not ‘modern’ but sometimes a simple phone call solves a lot of issues.

More recently I’ve had a client say that a sequence was wrong and described it with some detail.  I took a stab at the fix and then gave them another build for testing.  Still had issues.  The problem was that they’re not describing what’s really happening – they’re using customer language when I needed developer language.  The solution was a simple video.

Most people have a smart phone that can take video.  In my case, once I knew what the customer was really doing it was a simple fix because I could see what they were really doing.

Voice calls are important, videos are important, and doing screen sharing is becoming another important factor.  Think about using any of these tools before sending yet another email.

6 thoughts on “A Short Video is Worth a Hundred Emails

    • Teamviewer is very good but the licensing isn’t exactly cheap.
      It costs me well over €300 p.a. to stay current which is a necessity. This is because clients are usually on free licences and are constantly being nagged by the app to upgrade.
      I guess the fact that it’s not technically possible (as they put it) to connect to a newer version is why Teamviewer was sold for a billion dollars in the not too distant past 🙂

      • Well, iChat was miles better than TeamViewer but was Mac only and while still existing in the messages app has been deprecated (and its “replacement” FaceTime does not allow you to take over the other desktop). Just make sure you do not use an AOL account …

        Skype is cross-platform and sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always a drain on computer resources (and often refuses to release its hold on the camera or microphone, necessitating a restart).

        TeamViewer too is cross-platform and is mostly reliable (though it tends to loose the ability to send mouse clicks after a while, requiring you to re-establish the connection), and the new version 12 is allegedly much faster.

        Anything else that might be useful?

        • We use Zoom a lot. https://zoom.us
          The video is good, but the thing that is stellar is that audio is good for a lot of people that don’t have headphones one. Everything we tried had severe echo issues once you got past two users. Zoom does not.

          Zoom is also what Xojo uses for their daily meetings.

  1. If you dont want to go to screen sharing every OS X install has QuickTime Player which can capture video
    Start it
    File > New Screen Recording
    do whatever
    stop the recording
    send that

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