3 minute read

It had to have been arranged by Cindy Alvarez, surely, to create a sort of life lab in the classroom example of some of the more challenging aspects of customer development.

No sooner had class kicked off then we received a tweet of >ahem< constructive feedback from a potential user of Textocracy’s SMS feedback service being used by Leanconf to collect attenders’ views.

This feedback was then shared as an example by the feedbacker to the whole workshop, and the whole premise of the service questioned and challenged. I attempted to nobly thank the person for their helpful insight and offered to take the conversation offline after the workshop and address any questions he may have. Though in actual fact I was feeling less than noble.

Sure enough, during a break, we sat down over his heavily marked-up Textocracy/Leanconf feedback flyer and proceeded to go through all the reasons the service was a bad idea and doomed to failure. 

Thankfully, I had a previous blog about the birth of the service’s design to share with him, which helped set the context of it. I then showed him the data dashboard in action, that people were indeed texting in their comments, and how it was different but complementary to other types of feedback opportunities. Uh-oh, I had just broken two of the most important rules I had just learned- I talked about the solution, then I talked about it some more. About why it is so great and how wrong each of his points was. 

I have to admit, at first I felt annoyed and defensive that this person couldn’t see the brilliance of our product. Then slowly through my brain fog the lessons I had been learning just minutes before from Cindy began to take shape to a real life startup lesson.

There were two main things I learned:

  • This guy will not be the only person with this sort of perspective on our type of product. His willingness to share his frank observations and opinions are invaluable to how we position ourselves in the market and how we publicise what we do. But more importantly, his insight will help us design better customer development interviews and testing. 
  • His keen critique challenged me to think rationally through the current product features, to ensure we had sound reasons based on previous use cases  for them. Because, I figured if we couldn’t do that then we will have missed some serious learning from previous customer development activity. Regardless, this valuable customer insight was an opportunity to rethink and possibly consider the redesign of some product features.

So, it was a bit hairy that the first real attention to the Textocracy service at Leanconf felt like I had been plunked as a Truman Show-style guinea pig for customer development, but that turned out to be a very valuable and useful live-action lesson that will serve the product development going forward. 

It also reminded me of the value of customer feedback- being in the business of that, you would have thought that was a no-brainer. But it really brought it home. For the sake of Leanconf and their ability to take on board the lessons of Cindy Alvarez in customer development, please do text in your feedback throughout the events to 07492888578. It matters!