b Y phIL LIbIN
Phil Libin is the co-founder and
CEO of Evernote. He welcomes
your angry letters.
Why I Love My Angriest Customers
Complaints are super helpful. Suggestions?
Not so much
A Japanese marketing exec
recently sent me this question:
We get a lot of customer feedback
online. I’d like to relay it to management, but we don’t have a good channel for doing so. What does Evernote do
to funnel feedback to top management?
I have a publicly visible Twitter
account, and my email address is very
easy to guess, so lots of people contact me
directly about what they love or hate about
Evernote. When any customer can just email
the CEO, the company becomes pretty attuned
to feedback. Plus, we have a Facebook page, blogs,
forums, Twitter feeds. We hold meet-ups and
have ambassadors. We are swimming in feedback.
I’ll wager your problem is not the lack of an
adequate channel to management. It is a lack of adequate
management. My suggestion is that you quickly go and fix
this and come back when you’ve finished. I’ll wait.
OK, now you’ve got a management team eager to embrace
customer feedback, but you’ll quickly run into other
problems. As your company grows, you’ll progress through
the three phases of Internet customer feedback: 1. not
enough; 2. just the right amount; and 3. way, way too much.
I’m joking, of course. There is no Phase Two. At Evernote, we
spent about a week wondering if we were going to get enough
feedback and then five years trying to survive the avalanche. The
trick is understanding what feedback is and isn’t good for. In
short: Customer feedback is great for telling you what you did
wrong. It’s terrible at telling you what you should do next.
FROM TOP: COD Y PICKENS; CORBIS
There are many types of customer feedback, but it’s useful to
group them into three main categories: complaints, suggestions,
and compliments. Usually, it will feel as though the categories
are complaints, complaints, and complaints.
Complaints are great; the more detailed, the better. They
tell us where our product or overall experience is failing.
Plus, they are the easiest form of feedback to get. No training
or solicitation required. People are naturally good at complaining. The problem with complaints is that hey can be quite demoralizing to people who are inexperienced with being criticized online. That’s because the Internet is the most efficient invention in the history of the universe for concentrating dis- satisfaction into its purest, dark- est, and most bilious essence. The result? For every well-written, mea- sured complaint you receive, you’ll proba- bly get one that’s a bit…disproportionate. On the night before we launched the Evernote service in 2008, I made a quick video about its fea- tures. Apparently my audio was not satisfactory, because the first comment was, “Whoever did the voice-over in this video ought to be found and beaten to death.” I respectfully disagree, but even in that comment, there was an element of truth. The audio sucked. My narration was sloppy. We fixed it. Don’t take Internet complaints personally. And don’t rush
to implement the suggested corrective measures, but do pay
attention. Also, train new team members on how to read
Internet criticism without losing their minds.