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Let’s take a page from the marketing playbook: repetition, repetition, repetition.

repeating ipod adsIt doesn’t make sense for most customer feedback to be acted upon the first time it comes up. Customer doesn’t like the login experience? They might just be having a bad day.

The product team dismissing your piece of customer feedback should NOT be taken as discouragement, though it often is. This should be taken as your first “impression” (to continue to use marketing terms) on your subject. An impression is when someone sees/hears something; in marketing this is commonly an advertisement. Very few people act on the first impression, so you need to try to get more impressions. It’s the same with feedback. The next time a customer complains about the login form (or if you want to be bearish, after the next 5 complaints), bring it up again. Impression number two on the product team.

Marketers often claim it takes three repetitions before you remember something. That’s why those annoying radio ads say “Are you tired of your wet & smelly dog? Get PetDryer! PetDryer is approved by 3 out of 10 vets. PetDryer – the best way to dry your pet! Side effects may include burning fur and angry pets.” Thankfully, we don’t have to make all our impressions in a 15-second ad spot.

As mentioned in our opus on feedback, we’re a big fan of having a pre-scheduled feedback meeting. It can make product managers more comfortable (there’s a set of rules and a limited amount of time) and keep customer team tempers low (you know the product team is listening). Bring a limited number of ideas so people don’t burn out. Bring customer stories and pain points, not requests; product managers don’t really like being told what to do, and sometimes customers give bad solutions to real problems. Don’t expect too many requests to actually get fast-tracked in this meeting…this is your opportunity to start building up impressions.

(Sure, sometimes you may need to break this mold. The other day we got a very incensed, why-hasn’t-this-been-done-yet comment on our UserVoice forum and I felt it was accurate and strong enough to email to the team. But most of the time, this method is very ineffective, and product managers have said exactly that.)

I worry a little bit that folks reading this post might think we’re trying to “trick” product managers (just like some consider marketing to be about tricking people). That’s absolutely not the intention. As the product managers we interviewed this month mentioned they’re very busy and have lots of ideas (from customers and from staff) to prioritize. By utilizing the tips about customer teams are just trying bringing them awareness of crucial customer issues, hopefully without annoying them. I can’t imagine they’d complain about that.


Shopping cart photo courtesy of Yui Sotozaki.

iPod photo courtesy of tais.

Evan Hamilton

About Evan Hamilton