Man with a check signOne of the key ways to keep customers satisfied is to meet their expectations for improvements to your products and services. Some companies do focus groups, or gather data about what their competitors are doing and industry trends, and then decide what products, or improved features in a product or service should be included.  One of the best practices is to gather product requirements from your customers.

Google is doing just that with their  Google Places for business  offering. There have opened the opportunity for their community to ask questions and provide ideas. They make no commitments but it is interesting to see how a large powerful organization like Google is using a customer satisfaction best practice as it develops its new products.

A few features of the site:

1. You need to log in with your Google account to vote so Google knows who is  voting and you cannot vote 10 times for the same feature. If you don’t log in, you can still view the suggestions but not vote on them.

2. You can enter your own ideas or vote on existing ones.

3. The interface presents the ideas to you one at a time and you can vote, yes. this is a good idea, no or skip.

4. Ideas are in the words of the user. That sometimes presents a problem if the requirement is not well documented, it is hard to vote on.

5. There appear to be duplicate ideas from different users.

6. Ideas can be sorted by

  • Popularity
  • By Date
  • By what’s hot

but they are still presented one at a time. I am not sure what the difference between popular and ‘what’s hot’.

7. There does not seem to be any feedback on how others have voted, other than  being on the list of popular or hot ideas.

At the time I am writing this post,  181 people have submitted 119 ideas and they have 1312 votes.  That’s not many votes per person. I got tired  of voting after about 20 ideas presented to me.

I wonder how Google will make decisions about what features to work on. It may be that the most popular requests are not part of their strategy or plan. It will be interesting to watch how this works out.

What do you think of this process? Do you have a better one or another type of product requirements gathering process? Please share yours if you are permitted to do so. Leave a link and short description in the comments section below.


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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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