The Feedback Dilemma

For years now, we’ve used a free tool called Kampyle to collect feedback on our website. After a minute or two of browsing our site, customers would get a popup widget that asked them to rate the site from 1-5 and give comments on what we could improve. The great comments we’ve received over the years have led to many changes that have improved its usability.

A month ago, Kampyle released their own full site redesign – which totally broke it. Links don’t function. I can’t log in. I cannot get my feedback data. I cannot see my website reviews. I’ve sent emails to them. I’ve filled out their feedback form. I haven’t received a single response.

The irony of this, of course, probably isn’t lost on all of you. A website, designed to collect feedback data, doesn’t actually respond to feedback data. One could argue that this isn’t actual feedback I’m sending them. This is me, telling them, about their site, which doesn’t work – at all. It’s a bug report. By definition, feedback is:

[quote_box_center]information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.[/quote_box_center]

Improvement? No Kampyle, your site is busted. As in, I can’t do anything on it.

I just assumed companies want to know when things aren’t working. Maybe, I’m naive. Maybe, I’ve watched too many sessions on reviews and read too many blog posts on listening to your customers. I suppose I never stopped to wonder if companies were actually doing it. Maybe, I’m just too progressive for my own good.

Steve Jobs was a smart man. He was infamous for saying, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” He was a man that didn’t listen to his customers and he seemed to do okay. I can’t walk down the street without bumping into someone not paying attention because they are too busy staring and stroking at their iPhone. So dangerous.

Sometimes I also think that Steve Jobs was an arrogant man. A lot of arrogant men in powerful positions ultimately fail because that arrogance can kill a culture. I mean just look at Steve Ballmer at Microsoft who once said, back in 2007, that no one would pay $500 to buy an iPhone. That was dumb. No, Steve(s), feedback is important. Steve Jobs could get away with it because he was Steve Jobs. Steve Ballmer – not so much; just look at how useful Microsoft products are these days.

I included this image because it's incredibly beautiful. I imagine what it would be like to sky dive into this blue water and plunge to the bottom. Scattered on the ocean floor would be the lost treasure of McShane and his band of Merry Pirate men. I'd reach down and grab a handful. I'd swim back to the surface and count my gold bullion, in my tattered shorts, on the tufts of green and brown grass.

I included this image because it’s incredibly beautiful. I imagine what it would be like to sky dive into this blue water and plunge to the bottom. Scattered on the ocean floor would be the lost treasure of McShane and his band of Merry Pirate men. I’d reach down and grab a handful. I’d swim back to the surface and count my gold bullion, in my tattered shorts, on the tufts of green and brown grass.

Reading resident reviews has taught me a lot. Sure there are tons of cranky weird people but there are always golden nuggets we can use when we’re sitting around the conference table drinking burnt coffee and analyzing things. The truth is, we’re all too close to the situations to always see them clearly. We need new eyes. Different perspectives. No group think. Rather than sign spinners endlessly¬†flipping their pointed signs around, I’d rather have someone standing on a soap box along the side of the road, bullhorn in hand, asking for feedback. In fact, pile in a whole bunch of random people into the leasing office and give them apartment tours, even if they aren’t in the market to rent, and even make them go through the application process. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Make it better. Improve. Find different sets of random people. Do it all again. Have people talk to us. Listen.

We get better that way.

Happy renting everyone.

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bsitko

Copyright © 2015. Created by Bill Szczytko.

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