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December 27, 2010 / jasonpinto

On to the Next One

On error, resume next.

If you have a background in programming, you may know exactly what I mean by that phrase. Depending on what language a developer may use, the actual syntax and terms may differ. But nearly every language provides some option for exception handling.

While there are absolutely practical scenarios where a programmer may want to plug “on error resume next” into their code, it also can cause trouble in the end. For example, let’s say that a customer calls and reports an error that they are receiving while using an application. If a developer cannot recreate the issue, or determine how it’s occurring, they may be tempted to simply plug “on resume next” into the code.

They may do this with the thought that, “hey! At least the customer won’t see the error anymore and call to complain”.

However, hiding the error is not a true solution. Simply bypassing a step will most likely lead to missing data when the user completes their transaction. Later on, that might cause another error in the application, which leads to another phone call from the customer, which in turn drains additional resources as your team tries to find the cause.

When marketers are faced with the results of a poor campaign, they may face the temptation to simply plug “on error, resume next” into their actions. After all, does anyone really want to tell the boss, the sales team, or other fellow employees about poor open or conversion rates from a campaign? Of course not.

Certainly, there is value in having a positive attitude, and the willingness to always move forward.

But if we refuse to spend time looking at why something isn’t working, we may be dooming future campaigns to a status of “under-performing” as well.

Analyzing what went wrong — whether it was the data, the message, the offer, the channel, etc. — may not always be pleasant. But when we do push through to find out and take steps to fix it, we increase the chances that our next effort will result in a better experience for our audience and ourselves.

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