How to Get Useful Feedback from Customer Support?

10 Aug 2009 - 5:23pm
7 years ago
6 replies
1294 reads
Shima Kazerooni


Our UX team would like to work more collaboratively with our customer support team in getting the top customers' issues.  We usually receive feedback such as "change this to ..."  or "move this to ...".  It's more suggestions and recommendations on what they want to see improved rather than the actual customers' issues. 

I am wondering about how you (as the UX team) communicate with your customer support team on getting the raw underlying customers' issues.  Do you train your customer support team on what they need to look for to provide the UX team with valuable data?

Thank you,


10 Aug 2009 - 9:00pm

UX team should not ignore what customer support team is saying but
understand why they are saying like that. Especially customer
supporting have to face with many angry users who have big complains
rather than happy one. So their frustration with some issue is
understandable. Sometime, it will be urgent issue which may need
massive recall due to design problem.

But UX team must understand what is a root cause and what we should
do to solve the issue. Usually having right solution is possible but
may be too late for launched products. E.g. Upgrading SW is only
limited access.

For me, I could access Customer service team's database for
research. I can read user's profile with problem and find useful
pattern as well. I could forensic study with replaced parts and
matched with each user's profile (all part had ID).

Please ask them to share their database (if there is nothing,
encourage them to make one) It will be powerful accumulation and
worth to spend time on data mining as well.

Please appreciate CS team's effort and opinion. But you don't need
to follow their direction.

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Posted from the new

10 Aug 2009 - 11:45pm
Soren Weimann

Depending on the type of customer support a case tracking system can
be very beneficial. In this case it's a tool introduced to help the
supporters, which remove a lot of the resistance towards the new
I've been working with a very simple one which had three levels of
dropdown boxes and a comment box:
- Unit
- Issue (this where you'll find most of your valuables)
- solution
- Comments

Don't make it much more complicated than that it need to be. If you
make than fill in a lot of stuff to your benefit - not their's, or
you'll most likely see that will not be using it much.

Also remember that there is very often a layer of issues that the
users are not concious about, and therefore they will never reach
customer support.

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Posted from the new

10 Aug 2009 - 7:20pm
Laura Klein

Hi Shima,

At my last company, we had a pretty good system for improving the
communication between groups. Once a week, for no more than half an
hour, one representative each from UX, Customer Support, QA, and
Community Management would get together with the head of product
development (it was a small company!) and the product owners. The
representatives from the different groups were considered customer
advocates, and we would each quickly explain what we thought were the
top three problems that customers were facing.

Expressing it as "customer problems" helped a lot, since people
were encouraged to talk about what the current experience was and why
it was bad, rather than just giving a suggestion of what to do. Having
the meeting in person also helped, since when people did make
suggestions, people could ask, "what problem are you trying to

Regardless of how you do it, getting customer support and UX talking
to each other is a great idea! Good luck.


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Posted from the new

11 Aug 2009 - 4:45am
William Hudson

Shima -

Why not consider doing an affinity diagramming session with customer
support and designers? Write all of their feedback on to cards or
post-it notes then, in a collaborative session, group all the similar
issues together into themes. You can steer the focus so that the themes
are problem statements (rather than modifications or solutions).

See Jared Spool's page on this (called KJ method by many) - or many other resources
including Karen Holtzblatt's books on contextual design.


William Hudson
Syntagm Ltd
Design for Usability
UK 01235-522859
World +44-1235-522859
US Toll Free 1-866-SYNTAGM
mailto:william.hudson at

Syntagm is a limited company registered in England and Wales (1985).
Registered number: 1895345. Registered office: 10 Oxford Road, Abingdon
OX14 2DS.

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: new-bounces at [mailto:new-bounces at] On Behalf Of
> Shima Kazerooni
> Sent: 10 August 2009 4:24 PM
> To: discuss at
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] How to Get Useful Feedback from Customer
> Support?

11 Aug 2009 - 5:02am
Adrian Howard

On 10 Aug 2009, at 18:20, Laura Klein wrote:
> Regardless of how you do it, getting customer support and UX talking
> to each other is a great idea! Good luck.

Indeed :-)

One thing I would personally recommend - if at all possible - would be
to go sit at a customer support desk and do the job for a day. I
personally try and spend some of my time every month doing some kind
of customer support (even if just replying to e-mails) no matter what
my job. For a few reasons:

* I get some personal direct experience of where my designs work or
fail. Useful feedback and often rather humbling.

* It provides me with some empathy for what customer support folk are
going through. Sometimes I get less than useful feedback because of
the pressure of the job rather than any lack of will/knowledge.

* I can spot places where the user experience of the customer support
process can be improved. Simple things like having fields on the
support request to capture the information that you really need.

* I'm demonstrating that I take customer support seriously to the
people on the front line. Making friends there can save you a huge
amount of pain.



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11 Aug 2009 - 8:27am
Will Hacker

If your company has the capability try and listen in to live customer
support calls. You'll not only learn about customer problems, you
also see how well your support team is able to assist customers,
which is a key part of the overall customer experience. You can also
learn about operational issues (for example, packing slips not coming
with shipments) that may be creating customer needs you are unaware

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