Cooking Up a Storm

I had the following question asked of me last week:

How do you factor in customer complaints during your product development process?

It’s a great question to consider in this day of online product reviews, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  A lot of issues that may surface you try to address tactically, but how do you make sure strategically, you are making the right changes?

It was this post on the Smart Blog that really got me thinking about the importance of the process.  Derrick Hull writes on being prepared for good, bad, and ugly reviews from a restaurant standpoint but I think there is correlation to product development.  While you are back in the kitchen cooking up the next tasty dish, your customers are out front eating your current creations and if they aren’t happy, you need to know about it.

Thinking about a crowded restaurant, there is so much hustle and bustle that it is hard to keep track of everything not to mention to immediately respond to customer feedback.  Derrick comments on the importance of filtering the feedback:

Responding promptly and diplomatically to reviews gives you the ability to fix problems and make people happy. However, if you begin to receive multiple negative reviews with recognizable patterns — stale bread, rude server, etc. — it may be worth examining your operation and identifying ways to improve.

The opportunity here is to make sure you are not just handling the issues as one-offs and are looking for trends that illustrate a much bigger issue.  It’s hard not to bring up the ongoing Toyota recall mess that is going on right now as an example of not addressing bigger trends.

Sometimes you have to pull an all-stop and fix things immediately even if this means turning off the stove for a while.

Photo credit:  Seattle Municipal Archives