Closing the feedback loop from the customer

Feedback loops are essential to learning. In business, they’re essential to getting the product right. We need to know what the customers think, what they’re struggling with, what they value.

There’s one department that has a lot of contact with customers. Whole conversations, where we can learn a lot about what frustrates people. Yet, customer service is generally operated as a cost center, optimized for low pay instead of high knowledge acquisition.

business experts talk to developers, who create an app, which is used by a whole slew of customers, who then call customer service. Does customer service get to send that feedback to the business experts?

Is the business getting feedback from this rich source of customer contact? or are we too busy coping with a quantity of calls? So many different people using the app. Each call represents only a tiny piece of customer experience.

In software-as-a-service, where the customers are developers, each of them is responsible for millions of uses of the app. Developers are high-leverage this way. What they struggle with, what stops them from using the product more, stops their applications from using the product LOTS more. The impact of each developer-customer is orders of magnitude larger than that of a single customer of a consumer product.

For this reason, in place of (or in addition to) customer service, we have Developer Advocates. A developer advocate answers questions, gathers experiences, and interacts with developer-customers at high bandwidth. Developer advocates are hired for impact, not for low pay.

replace the slew of customers with a few developers controlling their software which uses our app; these devs talk to a developer advocate, who talks to developers, business experts, and influences our app directly.

Developer advocates share feedback with developers of the product. They can impact the customer’s experience with the product directly: by changing it, and by adding plugins, tutorials, documentation, etc.

Feedback loops are short and thick compared to traditional customer service. It makes sense that this is possible in software, because the quantity of humans we need to interact with is much lower, and the impact of each is higher.

This seems like a win. I 💓 software-as-a-service.