Improvement doesn't always involve new features

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In my last post, I talked about how everything can be improved.  I didn't make this distinction at the time, but I implied that I was talking about improving existing features as opposed to creating new ones.  Obviously new features can be great and they can help expand old products, but that's not the same thing as improving on what already exists.

Companies often use new features to trick customers into thinking that they're actually doing something useful.  This works a lot of the time because customers forget what the company is actually supposed to be doing for them in the first place.

I get at least one email per week from Chase Bank telling me about how the rewards structure for my credit card has been improved, or how every time I spend money I might win some sort of prize, or how there's some sort of new concierge service.  I see these emails as a red flag that Chase isn't actually doing anything useful.  They aren't emailing me about how their terrible website has been improved.  They aren't telling me that they worked with Visa and Mastercard to lower processing fees so that more businesses will accept my card.  They haven't figured out a way to combine checking and savings accounts so I can earn interest and pay bills with the same account.

Chase is a bank, not a concierge and not a lottery.  The fact that they're working so hard promoting features that have nothing to do with their core business makes me think that they have run out of real ideas (or they're too lazy/greedy to actually pursue real ideas).  If you want to cut to the core of how hard a company is working to improve their product, focus on the things that they're actually supposed to be working on.

If you're responsible for creating a product, you have to add new features sometimes in order for the product to grow.  Just make sure that the features you add enhance your core functionality rather than distract from it, and make sure you aren't adding features at the expense of improving your existing product.

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