The Miracle of Customer Feedback

The reason I choose to work as a Community Manager at Gameforge back in 2011 was the ability to study the behavior of customers in the context of product failure. And that’s what it was, serving 300 customer tickets a day as the initial point of contact for inbound requests, I was supposed to “creatively and proactively assist users”. But apart from helping customers with questions, difficulties, bugs and trying to knock out negativity with sheer kindness, I also received once in a few weeks user feedback on the product.

At first I was agitated and upset when faced with negative feedback like this one: “The login process is completely counter intuitive! I am not able to login with my username! What are these guys thinking!” I was upset because the user was venting and had simply not realized that you need to login using your email address, because usernames in our system were redundant.

But now, a year later, working at a startup and proactively looking for feedback from users and investors, I realized the following:

If I had lined up our visitors per month shoulder to shoulder, they would have reached over 100km. Now imagine driving past at 50km/h, trying to look at each and every face swishing by one at a time. After 30 minutes I would be absolutely numb trying to see that many faces. Imagine how big that group is! Out of all of those people, how many are going to reach out to us and give us feedback on our product? Looking at the sheer size of that group, how many would contact us to complain if something was wrong? Even 0.1% would be thousands of people giving us feedback. Which clearly does not happen. Of all those faces, all those customers, it is less than one in a million who take the time to contact us to anything personal about what we are doing.

On the first impression, identical to the other requests, feedback does distinguish in the underlying motivation of the user. Unlike a particular action or information a customer is trying to receive by contacting us (e.g. getting to run the software after an update or to revoke an account suspension), the customer has no other intention but to interact with us when giving feedback (e.g. how our new product update completely sucks or telling about how awesome feature XY is).

This is a miracle.
Of all the things the coustomer could have been doing in that moment, like quitting the application or searching for an alternative product from our competition, he chose to interact with us. This is a miracle. The fact that he took the time to say anything, whether positive or negative, makes him extremely special.
In my role at Fair Observer, I am currently trying to get a grasp of our stakeholders perceptions to improve our product. Getting feedback is highly valuable, especially at our current seeding stage. We should treat any feedback we receive as a miracle and get a warm feeling when thinking about all of our disgruntled web site complainers.

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