Figuring out what people are doing about mobile feedback
So you could say we’re more than just a little bit intrigued about the whole feedback process since we are after all building an entire business around it. It’s not a huge mystery or insight that businesses have to keep their customers happy in order to keep them loyal… and a large part of keeping them happy and loyal is having open lines of communication for new feature ideas, for support requests, for reporting issues, and for general questions. Where companies like Get Satisfaction and Uservoice made it possible for web developers to reach out directly to their users, we want to do the same and then some for mobile app developers.
In the current mobile space the whole feedback and support link of the app experience is for the most part broken and pretty much a headache for developers: developers want to spend their time and resources making awesome apps, not figuring out how to build a robust support platform for engaging with their users.
Anyway, before I start going into auto-pilot pitch mode, I thought it would be an interesting and informative exercise to show you how some popular apps try to solve this problem of feedback and support right now. I’ve poked around and curated the Good, the Bad, and yes, unfortunately, the Horrifyingly Ugly solutions that are cobbled together today.
So for this post I give you The Good chapter with two iPhone apps.
Skype (our rating: )
In general no one really wants to put a prominent “Help” button in their tab bar or on their main screen since real estate is oh so valuable in mobile apps. Typically a user has to navigate to some obscure About or More Info page and then tap on some sub-tab that might get them to a blank email form. Let’s see how Skype does it:
Ok so here I navigate to the last tab “My Info” where I can scroll down and tap on “About Skype.” (Yes, that’s my Skype name. Use that information for good and not evil, folks.)
Now I’m directed to this clean, simple page where it’s clear that I can do one of two things: Send Feedback or get Online Help, which at this point I’m assuming is a FAQ page of known issues. I’m going to tap on the Send Feedback button.
Skype does a great job with making their copy sound really human and friendly. They’ve taken the time to brand this form with their blue speech bubble and make the user feel like Skype values everything they’re going to take the time to say here. The user is going to actively help make Skype better! Woohoo!
This form is neatly formatted and has four fields for the user to fill out: a general category for filing away the comment, a place to enter a lengthy open-ended description, a drop-down for the phone model, and a textfield for the carrier. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s not necessarily directed either.
I scroll down and hit Submit
And I’m given a friendly, perky response that lets me know my message has been sent out into the Skype ether where presumably it will get read and digested. I have no way of knowing if anyone will actually consider anything I’ve said, but at this point the happy clouds and automated thank you message keep me sated.
I’m curious to know the actual engagement numbers and if users send Skype a lot of duplicate requests. It seems like the Skype app is fairly stable and bug-free (if the categories for the feedback form are any indication) and the feedback is primarily for new feature requests rather than bug reports. At any rate the experience doesn’t stray from the overall app experience, so it’s pretty painless. In terms of effectiveness, however, it’s hard to say since it’s all one-way communication from the user to the developer and to navigate to this part of the app the user would really have to be dying to talk to Skype. There’s definitely the guise of the feedback being a useful, intrinsic part of the development process… but who really knows. I can imagine all of these emails just getting dumped somewhere where no one reads them and no one ever having to be held accountable for them.
Another app whose feedback process I‘m a fan of is Kayak (our rating: )
I’ve developed something of a crush on Kayak’s mobile team. The app is fun and useful, and the UI is simple and straightforward.
So maybe they try to do too much in a single app, but the advantage of having their main navigation be in this long list form is that the whole weird sub-tab thing doesn’t really happen. Navigation is super linear, and each process is distinct. Unlike most apps, Kayak has deemed feedback important enough to be part of this main list of activities to do in the app (albeit one of the least important as it is the very last item on the list):
…Which makes a lot of sense since a developer doesn’t want the focus of the app to be “what’s wrong with it.” So here I tap on Feedback
And this has got to be the simplest form I’ve ever seen. Kayak gets a sense for how much the user loves the app by sneakily wording it as “Will you recommend us to a friend?” and the user is given the option to open up a two-way dialogue with Kayak via the optional email field. Brilliant! It’s not pushy, but the suggestion of getting to talk directly with Kayak is pretty appealing. I’d love to see how many email signups they’re getting that way. So three fields, one of which is optional, and a giant Send button all done within two taps of opening the app. Not too shabby. I get the idea that Kayak is probably savvy enough to gather some basic data on the state of the phone when the request gets pushed out since there’s some text after the Send button that tells me the version of the app I’m running and that I’m not logged in as a user.
After I hit send I get a pop-up.
These guys know what’s up. That’s just simple and smart and did I mention I’m crushing on them? Yeah.
So that’s the state of the very best mobile feedback out there right now. But if that’s the best, then what is everyone else up to? I’ve seen email forms, web forums that aren’t formatted for mobile devices, complicated forms asking users for irrelevant information (like if they’re on Windows XP… what?), *.sql attachments (no, seriously) that the user has to email back to the developer… the list goes on and on and on. We’ll get into The Bad and The Ugly tomorrow. But for now, here’s to keeping users happy.
Posted by Jeeyun on February 11, 2011