2012-10-10 Seascape, Vuosaari, Helsinki, Finland

Photo: Afternoon seascape. Rantapuisto, Vuosaari, Helsinki, Finland 10.10.2012
(Edited in G+ Lightbox: Cropping, exposure, colours & watermark, CC BY Tiina M Niskanen)

Google encourages people to send feedback. It has discussion forums for both developers and ordinary users. It has community managers in Google+. It has “Google+ Feature Requests” list. It has sites for coders and developers.

The more open feedback Google gives to the people participating in reporting bugs and suggesting features, the more it will get out of the crowdsourcing. It’s about give-and-take – the essence of social media.

Lack of feedback kills enthusiasm

If you get unsure whether there is anybody listening to your feedback, it’s easy to decide not to bother next time.

Recently I noticed few comments to Jaana Nyström’s post in Google+ that complained about the lack of response when sending feedback to Google (you get a standard message saying roughly “thank you, sorry we don’t have time to answer everyone individually”).

Later when I browsed the “Google+ Feature Requests” list, some of the requests sounded familiar and I wondered if they had taken out the features that had already been realized. I felt discouraged by the idea that I was maybe voting in vain and stopped browsing.

Quality feedback inspires

Good experiences make you believe in the power of giving feedback and you’ll probably even encourage your fellow users to do the same.

When I  encountered problems with my Summer Photos theme page in Google+, I sent feedback to Google and pinged Brian Rose, the community manager for Google+ Photos. It felt great to get a response from him: I was met by a real person and I knew that my case was in good hands.

The quality of the feedback I got was quite different from the automatic email answers many ERP systems send to customers (“Thank you for contacting! Your inquiry is now registered…”).

Flipped feedback

More “counter feedback” from Google to the people giving it “feedback” would probably foster more participation among the active users. Goodwill and information from Google, technical etc suggestions from users.

The term “flipped classroom” came to my mind: there seems to be a demand for “flipped feedback” or “counter feedback” eg in Google+. The current use of the term “feedback” in customer service has somewhat lost the original idea of a circuit or a loop, hence these thoughts.

Gamification, cost-effectiveness

The community managers already provide positive feedback to people addressing them with problems in Google+ and the forums, the “Google+ Feature Requests” list shows the accumulation of votes etc.

Here are some things that I remain pondering:

  • Could there still be more or different feedback?
  • Could the idea of gamification be used somehow?
  • Could the feedback process be more transparent and open, thus more encouraging and inviting?
  • Would the cost of giving more counter feedback be less than the benefits gained (more quality participation)?

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Related material:

Google Code

Google+

Google+: Brian Rose

Google+: Jaana Nyström (post on 15.10.2012, edited on 18.10.2012)

Google+: Summer Photos

Google+ Feature Requests

icrossing, Daniel Fernandez: Is Google using gamification to increase engagement on Google+? (23.1.2012)

Venture Beat, Dean Takahashi: Five predictions on where gamification is going next (21.9.2012)

Wikipedia: Feedback

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Edit 16.1.2013: Statistics on Google url shortener http://goo.gl/Z8z9d+

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