Choosenick. Notes and observations on service design, as well as other interesting things/thinking. By Nick Marsh.

Posts tagged with “online”...

The trend towards gathering rich, realtime feedback (a.k.a having a conversation) and where it might go next

I've been noticing more and more of these little tabs that appear on websites with the word 'feedback' on them:

They're being provided by some interesting companies like Getsatisfaction, Uservoice and Ethnio. When you click on them you get lightboxes that pop up like these:

Which ask for your feedback on the site your visiting. There's subtle differences in tone between each version. Uservoice bills itself as a 'simple suggestion box', Ethnio as a recruitment tool for user research and Getsatisfaction goes furthest, offering itself as 'customer powered customer service.' I've noted Getsatisfaction before on choosenick, (I love their strapline 'Customer service is the new marketing', which almost as good as this one.)

Anyway, the thing that ties them together is that they provide companies and organisation with very rich, very realtime customer feedback on their products and services, and in particular their websites. Websites of course sit somewhere in between (or smack bang in the middle of) the product, service and communication offerings of many consumer companies.

This is much more than analytics. I've personally always found analytics quite frustrating. On the surface it seems so powerful. I remember hooking choosenick up to Google Analytics for the first time when they first made it available for free, and seeing the (anemic) data fly in was initially seductive, but I very rarely check it these days, mainly because the traffic is still anemic, but more because I want to know more than just what people look at or where they come from - I want to know about the people behind the traffic, and of course analytics software just can't do that.

Which is where Uservoice et al step in. Their services are taking the web as conversation to the next level, and in doing so giving customers and users unprecedented, rich, realtime feedback channels to companies and each other by mashing up Digg style topic voting with fine grained authentication message boards and much more - Ethnio for example asks if its ok for the site owner to call you and ask you some questions in person. What I really like is that the feedback tab appears on the homepage of all these sites - its not buried away below the faq page, its right there, in your face, all the time, an open invitation to take part in a conversation around the products and services the organisation is offering.

Gathering this rich, realtime feedback from your customers is a fascinating (and obviously very, very valuable) new service trend that's an obvious win-win for organisations and customers alike, and it can only grow and grow. Its already spawning custom sub-categories that specialise in different forms of customer feedback. BrightIdea for example has a piece of software called Webstorm that focuses on crowdstorming idea generation. Appropriately, its being used to write a book about the biggest conversation market place on the web, Twitter

I think the organisational challenges posed by systems like this are equally fascinating. Whilst the system is clearly very valuable for customers, it must be quite challenging for larger organisations setup to handle customers in a very different, much more structured and controlled fashion. The always on, very flexible 'feedback' tab means ceding a lot of control to your customers, not to mention the fact that it raises their expectations of the speed and level of response exponentially. Across the board. Once your competitors are doing it your customers will expect it from you too. Soon.

This is a fact of life for companies now, and those that embrace the new reality quickest will profit longest as they'll build more customer loyalty, and they'll start to collect more, better ideas that customers care about that they can use to improve their offers. @comcastcares now provides almost realtime, completely unstructured (from a UX perspective) customer service via Twitter - and people love it.

Where will it be interesting to see these technologies applied next? Two areas spring to mind - the real world and government.

Firstly, the real world is already doing it - witness frog metrics and the Co-op PIN pad feedback system. I think we'll see more and more of these in store digital systems which require only a small amount of effort on the customers part, and are essentially anonymous. Addison Lee, the excellent taxi and courier service in London have a brilliant system where they text you when your cab is on the way (with the drivers number) and they provide you with a second channel to feedback on your experience. See the screenshot below:

Secondly, government. This is big. Sites like and the 10 downing street petition system are starting to show the way, but imagine if all politicians websites had tabs saying 'feedback?' on them. The possibilities of that little tab are starting to feel a little endless.
December 15th, 2008 / Tags: feedback, online / Trackback / Comments