Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

What’s a broken keycard moment in your business?


Recently I mentioned on this blog a cup holder effect, which is this situation that one small thing can ruin the whole experience for you. This one is similar, but from a business perspective. I call a keycard moment a glitch in your business, that causes a disproportionate harm to all of your other efforts. You might be doing everything well and your customers are happy, until they stumble upon a malfunctioning keycard which destroys that experience which you so carefully built. And the worst part is that you might not notice it, because it’s just a keycard. Let me explain:

What’s a broken keycard moment in your business?

My recent stay at a 5-star hotel and a broken keycard

As a father of three, I do appreciate these opportunities when I can get away with my wife just two of us for just a few days. Recently we managed to do just that. To reward ourselves we booked a fancy 5-star hotel to make our experience even more enjoyable.

The hotel was amazing. It was located right in the city center, we got a room with a view on one of its top floors. The breakfast was spectacular with a woman playing harp as we ate. The swimming pool was gorgeous with a panoramic view to the city. And the bed in our hotel room was super comfortable. The hotel checked all the boxes until…

I couldn’t get to my room!

On the first day of our stay I went outside for a walk and then came back, used the elevator to get to our high floor and tried to open the door. The key didn’t work.

I had to go back all the way back to the reception for a key replacement. They asked if my key was next to my iPhone which it was, but in my book it shouldn’t be really matter. Anyway, they gave me two new keys and I put them in two different pockets to make sure nothing interferes with them.

The keys worked and later I went outside again. When I came back, I got a deja vu. The key didn’t work, I had to get back to the reception and ask for new keys. I was annoyed.

Later I went out again with my wife. She decided to come back earlier to the hotel room and her keys didn’t work. Now she was annoyed. She had to replace her keys and called me that the lady in the reception informed her that my keys will not work now as well, so I have to go through reception again.

The keycard drama just didn’t stop.

The next day I went to the swimming pool. I had a great swimming session and was really happy. In the elevator I met a nice couple who also just spent some time in the pool and were very positively impressed. And in the elevator their keycard stopped working. Their good mood disappeared as they realized they’d have to go all the way down to the reception in their bath robes to change keycards.

What’s a keycard moment in your business?

The keycard moment is a metaphor. It’s a small thing that you’re not doing right but it’s so small, that you also don’t pay attention to it. You’re blindsided. Or even worse, you think it’s your customers’ problem, not yours.

Every time I went annoyed to get my keycard replaced, the receptionists didn’t care much for it. They tried to put the blame on me (are you holding the card next to the phone?). And I’m sure in their data, replacing keycards for customers too often, is not even recorded. So they don’t realize the harm they’re doing to their brand and all of their otherwise splendid efforts.

Just think about it. The hotel is clean and fancy, the breakfast amazing, the pool gorgeous, the bed comfortable - they’re doing everything right!

But… every time as a customer I go up to my room, I’m getting anxious if my keycard will work. And you should have seen this nice couple’s faces when their great experience at the pool was instantly spoiled by their keycard not working.

That’s why I started analyzing now where there might be a keycard moment in Nozbe app. Where people might get frustrated over seemingly small thing. Where they might get turned off despite all our efforts to improve their productivity.

Fix your keycard.

Seriously, just fix it properly.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022 /keycard/