In his Wooing Your Customers & Keeping the Flame Alive presentation at the Warm Gun Design conference in San Francisco, CA Kevin Hale outlined how focusing on customer support across an organization helps create better products. Here’s my notes from his talk.
- Humans are social. We create personalities for our software and expect them to have a certain kind of behavior. Since people have social relationships with software, it makes sense to design your software using real world relationships as a model.
- Wufoo researched human relationships extensively when building their product. They learned how to support new users by understanding dating. They learned how to support existing users by studying married couples.
- First impressions: look for smiles not for ease of use when you are doing your testing. Visual testing, copy, and interactions can help make people happy in early interactions.
- Married people fight about money, kids, sex, time and others. You can map these to a start-ups issues as well: costs/billing, users’ clients, performance, roadmap, competition and partnerships. Fighting: is really about two people having goals that are in conflict with each other.
- Before launch, everything is about building. After launch, you are no longer building. So you raise money and silo parts of running the company to others including customer support.
- In order for software development to be successful, it needs to focus on responsibility, accountability, and humility.
Support Driven Development
- Make everyone do customer support. This fixes the loop between feedback and development.
- Designers and developers give the best support. They know the product and can help solve problems.
- When builders are forced to do customer support, they tend to make tools to help people to help themselves. They also tend to test customer support solutions to do support better.
- Wufoo asked people about their emotional state when filling in a customer support request. This resulted in less emotional language and clearer descriptions of issues in customer support tickets.
- Direct exposure: minimum of two hours directly observing users every six weeks.
- You have to keep putting more things into relationships, otherwise the energy goes out due to entropy.
- Support the people that support your paycheck. Thank them when you are doing customer support. Every meeting, each employee at Wufoo writes hand-written thank you cards to five customers.
- Customer support matters. You can only be a market leader in one of three ways: best price (focus on logistics), best product (focus on R&D), best overall solution (focus on being customer intimate). The last one can be done regardless of team size and funding.
- You can always be more humble and customer focused.