[This is a 47hats Tip.]
Want a simple way to add to your army of evangelists, identify usability problems and build market attention? Try emailing one customer a day. Pick a customer who bought your product or who signed up for your Web 2.0 service some time back and send them a friendly, short email:
Just a quick email to see how you are doing with MasterList Professional. Any issues or sticking points or suggestions?
That’s it. Short and sweet. Rinse, lather and repeat.
Here’s what you get for your ten minutes:
- A growing band of customers wowed by someone actually remembering them after they paid their money.
- A growing and fresh list of customer testimonials.
- A growing number of customers who rave about you online in a million blogs, social networks and places.
- A growing list of common issues you should address. Usability. Compatibility. People trying to do things in your app you never thought they would try.
- A growing list of great suggestions. Everything from ways of using your product you never imaged to major selling opportunities.
And here’s how you keep this from getting out of hand:
- You are promising to listen, not act. You are not promising to build every feature, setting, option and variation everyone you contact wants – but you’d be a fool not to watch for and act on points that keep bubbling to the surface.
- Not everyone will reply. People are busy and it’s the itch that gets scratched. But they will remember.
- You can turn it on, you can turn it off. Have a really busy day today? Give it a pass. No problem. Just come back the next workday and resume.
- Create a special folder in your email client just for these emails.
- Create a set of stock replies to reuse when appropriate, for example, why there’s no Mac (or Windows, or Linux, or iPhone or…) of your software.
- Build a super simple database (text file, excel, SQL Server, whatever) where you capture for further processing later – bugs, suggestions, testimonial quotes (after they email them, ask and get their permission), product ideas, people to contact, blogs to now follow.
Not everyone wants to be your friend. Once in a while you will get replies like – “I bought your software six months ago for my Mac and it didn’t work!!! You bastard!” – even though it’s a Windows app, and clearly marked as such. Maybe you still refund them, maybe you don’t. But you can draw their venom towards your product and that’s a good thing too.
As microISVs we don’t have advertising budgets, product managers, product placements in blockbuster movies and the like. What we do have the power of is acting like real people and caring about what we do. Use it.
47hats Tips are just that: quick, useful suggestions for microISVs who what to succeed. Please spread the word! Thanks.