Freedbacking

Wired News picked upnew term created by Chris Pirillo in a Bloggercon presentation last week.  He suggested using the tag “freedbacking” when you post comments or feedback about a product or service.  I think it’s a great idea to promote the concept of public feedback that’s easy for manufacturers and developers to find, but not sure if this phrase will catch on.

Companies already offer ways for users to provide feedback, for example, through e-mail and forms. But those methods are private, giving users little sense of participation. Frequently suggestions go unheeded, with not so much as an acknowledgement or thanks from the company. As a result, Pirillo said, public feedback postings are more satisfying because they allow users to compare notes with others to see if their complaints are shared, as well as the chance to disagree and debate.

We get a fair amout of suggestions (via email, a feedback form and sometimes by phone) from our users and we’re still small enough that I can read every one.  They’re generally very brief and there’s not much (if any) follow-up other than a quick, sincere “Thanks for your suggestion” email.  It would be great to keep the conversation going in comments on their blog or find other users having the same problems by a quick search.  Of course, this requires that your users remember to tag their posts with this new funny term.

However, I think the real problem that our company needs to address is motivating our users to just give us any feedback.  Most of our users are busy running their companies and don’t typically give us suggestions unless they’re already working with tech support or if we’ve contacted them for some reason.  We’re getting 95% of our suggestions from 5% of our users.  In fact, I remember one customer suggested that we provide rewards (such as a $50 credit for other add-ons or services) for any suggestions that we turn into new features.  That’s an interesting idea, but we often get the same suggestions from different customers for features we’re already planning to include, so I don’t think that would work for us.

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