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Driving the Customer Feedback Hyperloop (excerpt)

Driving the Customer Feedback Hyperloop (excerpt)

This is an excerpt from a talk being developed for SXSW 2016

Customer feedback is a gift. Of course, the problem with gifts is you don’t always want the item under the wrapping paper. Sometimes you get a shiny new toy and sometimes you get an ugly sweater...or something worse. Customer feedback is no different in this regard, but handling it well can result in happier customers and better products.

In this session, we’ll look at each of the different types of feedback that customers provide about the products we build. We’ll identify the value in each kind of feedback, and explore the challenges that come with them. We’ll also review tools and techniques one can use to encourage customers to share their most valuable insights.

Michael Boeke

July 24, 2015

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  1. DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! A few jobs ago,

    a customer was beta testing a new platform my team had just launched. It had way more bugs than it should have, and the customer was livid. He called me up and shouted at me as loud as he could. Any time I tried to say anything he would cut me off, and then circle around later to call me stupid for not being able to complete a sentence. He practically vomited out a sentence I will never forget: “Do you know who I am? I WILL SINK YOUR PRODUCT!” Image: @PHP_CEO
  2. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the feedback

    I had just been given was a Stinky Turd. The experience was unpleasant (to say the least) but it wasn’t without value, and it’s one of the four types of feedback customers will give you. 4 Types of Customer Feedback
  3. Sometimes you get customer feedback that’s just what you wanted.

    Getting a heaping pile of praise from a customer who loves your product feels like opening that shiny new toy at your 5th birthday party. The giver and receiver both feel great about the situation, and celebrating success can help cement an already solid customer relationship.
  4. What to do with a shiny toy Thank your customer

    for the warm feedback and give yourself a pat on the back. And don’t forget: shiny toys are meant to be shared with others. Let your teammates know about the great feedback! It takes a lot of effort to get a product right, and you should celebrate those moments. Shiny Toys are also important because they show where you are getting things right, so you can keep doing them. However, while this feedback feels great, remember that it can’t actually help you improve. You need the other types of feedback for that.
  5. It’s wonderful when a customer cares enough about your company

    that they can’t wait to share their fantastic new idea for your product…but it gets tricky when their idea doesn’t sound so great to you. Maybe the idea is too specific to their situation, or doesn’t fit with your product vision, or would cost far more to develop than it is worth. Just like when you received that heinous hand-knitted holiday sweater from a beloved relative, you want the giver to feel good about their gift without actually having to use it.
  6. You owe it to the customer to give their idea

    a fair shake, whether it’s just asking good questions, or submitting it to a formal evaluation. Make sure your customer can see their suggestion get a fair chance. Explain how you evaluated the idea, and why it doesn’t fit into your plans. The key is to acknowledge that you appreciate the idea while being honest about why it may not find its way into your product. Then you can thank them for caring enough to share the suggestion, and encourage them to share their thoughts in the future. What to do with an ugly sweater
  7. Sometimes customers get angry and frustrated, and they take it

    out on you. That giftbox of customer feedback arrives with a big Stinky Turd inside of it, as happened in the episode with the unhappy fellow at the beginning of this post. Getting this kind of feedback always sucks. It sucks even more if you know the customer has a legitimate complaint that you want to address, but their behavior is blocking any rational communication.
  8. The key to dealing with a Stinky Turd is to

    separate the useful feedback from the manner in which it was delivered. It can be tempting to dismiss this kind of feedback. When a customer crosses the bounds of decency, it’s easy to convince yourself the problem is due to their bad attitude. However dismissing a Stinky Turd is missing an opportunity to improve. Most customers won’t yell if they’re unhappy - they’ll just leave. So identify what you can do better, own the issue, and fix it for all of your customers before it becomes a bigger problem. What to do with a stinky turd
  9. Most of the time, customer feedback is like getting a

    puppy from your significant other. It’s wonderful and immediately appreciated, but comes with an expectation of care and feeding for a long time to come. What does this feedback look like? Oftent a fast-growing customer that is very happy will let you know that they need you to provide new features or a new level of service to support their growth. Adorable Puppies come in all sizes. Sometimes they are just little things that would improve the daily experience for users - this stuff is critical too.
  10. This is the feedback that can often make or break

    a product. Accepting the challenge may require more of a commitment than you are ready to make, but rejecting it might spell the end of the relationship. If a long-standing customer informs you that expectations in the market have shifted, and you need to provide more value to compete, that’s some of the most valuable feedback you can receive. It may even present an entirely new strategic opportunity. What to do with an adorable puppy
  11. Customers want to know where you are headed, and if

    you’re paying attention to the product improvements that matter most to them. I’m no advocate for publishing long term roadmaps - that locks you into plans and prevents you from responding to important product feedback. However, it’s possible to share which initiatives you’ve prioritized to be developed next. Sharing your plans can help customers to feel like they’re part of your team. So they’ll not only give you the benefit of the doubt, but they’ll be advocates for your product & company. Share your plans 1
  12. Once you’re sharing your plans with customers, and collecting feedback

    as you move forward, there is one last step to closing the loop: follow up with customers when their feedback makes it into the product. There are bunch of ways you can do this:
 - Use release notes or newsletter to give a shout-out to the customer. - Employ a platform to enable customers to vote on features and track their progress. - Search your customer interactions, notify anyone who talked to your team about the issue. Follow up 2
  13. Customer feedback hyperloop Share your plans 1 Once customers can

    see their suggestions being taken seriously, and experience the product getting better with each release, they will be encouraged to volunteer more feedback. And with transparency about your plans, and honesty about your product vision, your customers should be able to provide not just more feedback, but better and more relevant feedback. With time, you can rev-up a hyperloop of customer feedback that delivers more Shiny Toys and Adorable Puppies, and fewer Ugly Sweaters and Stinky Turds. Follow up 2