The successful companies engage their customers, not only to satisfy them but also to define the priorities of their product or service developments.
It’s a must have service you need to include ( I was about to say “consider” but you definitely need to install one of them ).
I can’t share my own feedback about these products as I didn’t get the time while I was at VSO-Software to review or try them, and we were doing our customers relationship with instant messaging, private forums, and the public forum. I have been lucky to meet the CEO of UserVoice in San Francisco in a private meeting, they have been nice to share their view in this incredible market, but unfortunately my current customers weren’t very motivated to set up these kind of tools ( despite their huge audience and traffic )
You can see this with a side button “feedback”, using rollover layout ( which makes the solution very easy to be integrated to your web site )
These companies help to let your users list ( and even define ) what features they would like to be integrated. They can vote for a limited number of items, so they need to make their wish list carefully. In the same time, it allows to communicate indirectly on what you will do next.
If you need a specialized service for support purpose, like chatting and getting live screenshot of the web service, I could recommend this one :
It is both a platform to chat with your customers, but also to get easily screenshots of their page to assist them or to review web bugs in case of an internal test version of a new web site.
If you know more services which deserve to be listed, please contact me or let a comment.
I still wonder why some companies choose to ignore these tools, maybe I can see 5 Reasons :
– They don’t know it exists ( well, they probably don’t surf a much outside their own web site )
– They don’t think they need a user-centric strategy ( what a mistake and I will explain why )
– They can’t absorb the number of feedbacks ( lack of resources to manage it, follow the suggestions ), it’s true it could be a valid reason to ignore these tools as it will just show to the users you are not that active.
– They have already define a product roadmap, which will make them busy for more than 6 months… indeed, another pretty good reason to not include such a tool.
A customer-oriented strategy is for me very important, because the final purpose is not only to make some people happy to be sure they will promote themself your service, but also to save time and not ignore some basic features you would have missed. If you expect the customers or users to email to your support, yes.. it happens but not that much, because people are lazy and used to not get a satisfying reply from the technical support ( another good subject for a post ), whatever we could measure the speed or quality of the reply, so users have been discouraged to report feedback as soon as they need to write down and send information which have no chance to be public.
These Feedback/forum platform engage users to vote quickly in a list defined by either the users themselves or a list of pending features defined by the hosting company project managers.
**** This article isn’t still finished. I would like to add screenshot of the applet for each of the top services, and a forum screenshot ***
** I found this new tool which sounds promising too :
I discovered it on this web site : http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/34265/Sleepless-In-Startupville-23-Questions-That-Keep-Entrepreneurs-Up.aspx