Interaction Points: How do you talk to your users?

I came across two very interesting interactions today that made me think about the way we talk to our users. In the technology realm we talk to people every day, however it is not typically face to face. Instead we interact with our users through the means of our created interfaces. These interfaces are our personal representatives, helping millions of people do things more quickly, more efficiently, more enjoyably through the use of technology.  Just as we wouldn’t refer our lazy, incompetent, albeit funny friends for a high profile job in a company because it reflects poorly on ourselves, we most likely don’t want to be perceived through our interfaces as inconsiderate, uninterested, or disrespectful. Yet, we often are.

So as a reminder, that your product often leads the conversation on behalf of your company, here are two interactions I had today with Google, and Lotus Notes:

I hit send on a message from Gmail, and Google kindly interrupted me to let me know I may have forgotten to attach something… Google via Gmail made me feel good, like the company was looking out for my best interests, and helping me when I least expected it.

Lotus Notes
Then, I went to send a similar message in Notes, and hit the “attach” icon while my cursor was still in the Subject line… Notes interrupted me to tell me to move my cursor because it wouldn’t attach anything for me until I did things exactly as it wanted. Notes annoyed me, and made me feel like I had to adjust to the company and bend to their needs, instead of them helping me.

How does your software talk to your users, how well does it represent you?