Real Customer Conversation: &

I can’t stand getting a customer support ticket # and an automated response these days. The new way of support is get me in direct contact with the product manager of the the product I am using. If the product manager wants to build a better product and actually hear first-hand impressions on a daily/weekly basis then they must engage in conversation with their users. Two new customer communication sites have received lots of press recently that allow an employee to represent themselves within the company forum on steroids: and Both are hosted solutions with getsatisfaction having an API that you can get your web developers on to hook into your systems.

  • is used by companies like Microsoft, Yahoo!, Twitter, and Paypal.
  • Users can submit questions, share ideas for new features, report issues, or just talk within the discussion board.
  • Moderators of each company’s getsatisfaction web site are noted as employees so you know who you are talking to.
  • They have a feature called overheard which will scour Twitter for any mention of your brand and bring back the conversations for you (the employee managing the site) to respond to.
  • You can have different boards for different products and services
  • Free service right now for companies. I signed up for a Ribbit account a few months ago when I was consulting for them in under 10 minutes.

  • is used by companies such as, McDonalds, and Apple.
  • It’s designed more for suggestions (duh) rather than reporting errors. For example, if you are an avid fan of a particular product and you are dying for a new feature that will save you tons of time – is the place to find your company’s page and suggest it.
  • Ability to follow discussions so every time you login you can see if anybody has responded to the suggestion.
  • For users to suggest it is free and you can create a profile to manage the suggestions you are following.
  • For companies to have their own suggestion box the price is the following: $49/month, $495/year (2 months free), or for a non-profit $49/year. 30-day free trial is available.

With any of these two services, it is a complete change in communication for your customer support team as well as how your product managers would interact with customers. Training folks on how to respond to customer complaints, suggestions, or issues in a public forum (yes all the data is public) will need to be done. Dealing with a public forum where customers can reporting issues with your products is different and the old school way was to have a password-protected support site. Times have changed in the support world and you the company need to be open with any issues and respond to them efficiently. or can help you with that but it is a culture change and job responsibility change for the product manager to really engage with.

Have you tried out either services? How do you converse with your customers in a public forum? Add a comment to this blog entry.
-Randy Ksar


7 responses to this post.

  1. Thank you Randy,

    It is interesting to see the feedback form, the survey and the suggestion box receive an upgrade, from a one-way dead end, to a two-way communication system, to a platform with the ability to share ideas for improvement with anyone interested.

    It’s really what the Internet was created for in the first place: The exchange of ideas.

    Jeff Whitton
    Founder, CEO


  2. Thanks for the great mention! The API for SuggestionBox is underway and should be rolled out very soon.

    The surprising thing is that so many companies don’t even want your suggestions. They prefer to build products and services based on what they THINK you want and not what you ACTUALLY want. When the fill that gap, great things happen.


  3. Hi Randy,

    Thanks for checking us out and giving your readers the distinct values of each service. Both platforms are great for allowing companies to connect with both internal and external customers. I wanted to share a brief highlight that SuggestionBox easily integrates with any website or blog leveraging a widget that allows you to capture ideas from visitors at the point of the experience on your website. Feel free to contact me for a live demo as well!!

    thanks again!
    BJ Cook


  4. You are indeed right, Randy: It would be wise to help employees frame the way they respond to all of the suggestions and complaints (and praise!) in public spaces like these. I’ve found that the best way to do this is by being as informal as possible. Customers connect with you when they are being treated like real people. If they sense you are robotic or official, you’ve lost them. I always try to lose the formality and the carefully composed stock verbiage and be my authentic self. It may take a few more minutes, but it’s almost always well-received.

    Good post.



  5. (Oh, and BTW, full disclosure: I work for Get Satisfaction. Don’t ever want to sound like a biased party!)


  6. Thanks everyone for your comments.


  7. […] Real Customer Conversation: & « The life of DJ Ksar (tags: community customerservice nonprofits sharing help getsatisfaction suggestionbox) […]


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