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Cheezburger Customer HotlineOne might imagine that if your business was to publish pictures of cats with captions, customer service wouldn’t be a big focus.

But for Cheezburger — home of I Can Has Cheezburger, Know Your Meme, FAIL Blog and other humor sites — the end-goal is a sustainable, passionate, and happy community. And customer service is a key part of that.

“Cheezburger’s mission is to make the world happy for 5 minutes a day and we rely on our community to help us achieve this,” says John Clayton, developer at Cheezburger. “Providing customer engagement tools such as UserVoice on our sites allows the community to stay engaged and in control of their experience.”

In 2011, Cheezburger decided to try a new tactic for gathering feedback. They created a UserVoice Feedback Forum for one of their products — their photo builder — and asked their customers to prioritize what they wanted. They seeded the forum with what they thought would be some popular ideas, and installed the UserVoice widget on their builder pages.

Then everything blew up.

The gap between what they thought users wanted and what users actually wanted was huge. Ideas they expected to see support for, like picture searching, sank while unexpected, customer-generated ideas, like font options, quickly climbed to the top of the forums.

John says it was “eye-opening.”

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Furthermore, although they only put the widget on their “builder” pages, they quickly started getting loads of non-builder feedback. “It opened the floodgates”, says John. “And we couldn’t be happier to know what they want.” Cheezburger quickly made collecting customer feedback a company-wide initiative, and today they have more than 500 ideas and over 150,000 visits to their UserVoice account a month.

The tool made it happen, but the important lesson was to give customers a voice. “Our customers are wonderfully fanatical,” beams John. “All it took was a venue for their feedback, and they were more than happy to help us build a better product.”