The Feedback Loop

We've been silent on Facebook for awhile.  Everyone's been focused on getting our most recent batch of pilot schools up and running.  The experience definitely makes my top 5 list of most grueling things ever.  Everyone here put in ridiculous hours under enormous pressure, but the result was worth it - a very smooth set of first days for almost all of our pilot schools.  Huge thanks to everyone involved.  Now get some sleep :)

Of course, record numbers of new teachers and new students means a record volume of customer feedback.  This is something you can think through in advance, but no amount of thinking prepares you for the flood when the dam finally bursts.  I went from 15 hours a day managing our team through setup, content, and double-checking to 15 hours a day answering customer calls and emails - literally overnight.

This is not a complaint.  I LOVE customer feedback, and I love the feedback we've been getting from these particular customers even more.  The scariest thing for a new company is silence.  When my phone battery dies twice a day from overuse, I'm relieved that our customers feel like they can talk to us.

So, what's the most common type of feedback for a new app?  You guessed it: "Can it do ____?"  In other words, "When can I have feature _____?"  In other other words, "Why can't it do _____ yet?  It really should."

The human reflex when hearing comments like this dozens of times per day, every day, is to get defensive.  "All anybody talks about is what we don't have!"  This attitude is pretty unhelpful, and not usually a good representation of what the consumers intend.  As consumers, we don't talk much about what we've got, we talk about what we need and don't yet have.  Indoor plumbing is the Most Important Invention in History, Ever, but we never say "thanks" when it works - we just complain when it doesn't.  Nothing wrong with that.  It's how we're built.

So, once the defensive reflex is quashed, what's left is a very powerful feeling, one I feel over and over again every day.  I AGREE WITH MY CUSTOMERS.  Those features they're asking for?  We SHOULD have those.  The features they're complaining about?  They're NOT good enough.  They should be better.  Very rarely do I see a request from a customer and think "There's no way we're doing that."  Almost every time, it's "I wish I had more people so we could do that faster."

That's a really great position to be in, I think.  Us and our customers: wanting the same things, rowing in the same direction.  Now, who's got some more feedback?