Customer feedback: Doing it right.

May 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Transcender news | Leave a comment
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Part of my job is to monitor quality of our product. One way I do this is to review all the customer support emails. We use a Service Desk application that allows us to track customer support issues and ensure they are resolved in a timely manner to the customer’s satisfaction. With the application’s dashboard, I can read all the customer emails we receive about our products.

In March, my group received 284 content-related emails. That might seem like a lot, but consider that we support over 150 practice tests and related products, each containing 300+ exam and flash card questions. If you do the math, you’ll see we have a lot of questions in our arsenal. So in that context, we get feedback on less than 1% of our content per month. Some products are more popular than others, and generally the more eyes there are on a product, the higher the potential for feedback. We have some products that never receive a single feedback email, and we have some that get an average of one a day. An exam’s audience and the difficulty of the exam influence the number and types of emails that we receive.

Believe it or not, I look at almost every email forwarded to my department. Because exams change and we want to stay up to date, we not only respond to customer emails, we also track them for trends. So if you read a lot of emails all at once, you get a handle on the good stuff and the not-so-good stuff, which makes us better able to change a product in response to the market.

Generally, we get three types of emails: kudos from customers that pass, flames from those who fail, and feedback on the clarity or accuracy of one of our questions. My group loves the kudos, but very few people email us with a passing test score. They bought our product, used it, passed the exam, and moved on to the next challenge.

Flame emails are infrequent, but they hurt. We sincerely try to work with each customer to pinpoint the issue: whether our test failed them, or whether they just weren’t ready to take the exam. Either way, they can use the Test Pass Guarantee to get a refund, no questions asked.

My favorite of the three is the emails with feedback on our questions. This category represents 99% of the emails my group receives. To me, the feedback is where the tires hit the road. Because the kudos and flames are few, this is how I determine how our products are really doing after we release them to the wild.

If you’ve ever considered commenting on the accuracy one of our questions and didn’t — next time, do it. We read them and we answer each one personally. When a developer writes a product, they really put a piece of themselves into the outcome. This group really tries to emulate the exam experience without violating the exam’s integrity. In non-biz speak, we try to present the same content, at the same difficulty level, but without copying the live exam. It’s not always easy, but we don’t release a product until we are certain that it will do what it is intended to do – help you pass the exam.

Sometimes customers write because they just need help understanding a concept presented in a question. Maybe they get the overall gist, but can’t understand why answer A is correct and B isn’t. If you need further explanation, send us an email. The Content Development group is made up of IT trainers. We specialize in helping IT professionals learn. That concept might be the difference between passing and failing on exam day. While we can’t personally tutor every customer, we can certainly confirm whether you’ve grasped the concept correctly or not, and point you at the most helpful references if you need to take it further.

I admit that we’re human, and we make mistakes. We try our best to minimize the chance of mistakes (from simple typos to incorrectly stated answers) and fix them as fast as possible. But when you put out as much technical content as we do, it happens. The fastest way we can recognize and fix those mistakes is when a customer points them out. Is that our ideal? No. We want to be perfect from the moment it’s released, but we appreciate the customers who take the time to point out an error.

So if you want to point out an error, ask a content-related question, or just tell us what a great question we’ve written, here’s how you do it. In our test engine (both download version and CD version), at the bottom right corner of each item, there’s a button that looks like this:

Email feedback link

Email feedback link

This will pull up a dialog box that looks like this:

Feedback_Email

Now that I’ve covered how to send feedback, I’ll follow up with some examples  of useful and not-so-useful customer emails we’ve received, along with pointers on how to make the feedback mechanism work for you.

–Jennifer Wagner, Content Development Manager

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