June 3, 2020
Letter from a customer
I spent a lot of time reading and comparing IT products and as a customer, I would like to give you some advice.
Work together, be partners, be transparent. It'll pay off for both of us.
Use real and up-to-date pictures of your product #
I saw a lot of websites with some mockups instead of product screenshots. That's not what I would like to see and not what I have to pay for. I want to see your product, the real product, not some abstract images with little in common with the service.
When I see something like this, I quit immediately. I don't want to waste my time searching for information about your product. I'm not curious about what's behind the curtain. It should be visible on your website. Doesn't your product look good enough to show it straight to the client? Do you want to hide something?
Add more complex examples #
I'm tired of reading about creating simple blogs, TODO apps or single API endpoints with static JWT token. It's not what we do on a daily basis. I would like to see the real usage of your app, which can help me decide if your product is good enough for my needs. Create something more significant than a blog, show how we should use your product in a real-world application and why it's better than others. One good example is better than hundreds of small posts for beginners.
Your brand advocates should not only know the product, but they should also work with it #
I saw a lot of videos and podcasts where people knew less about the product than me after reading the documentation for two hours. I saw advocates who even admitted they don't use this product and do not know the essential parts of it. Do not do that. I would like to hear about the product from people who use it every day. I want to know what they think about it, why they use it, what issues they have. I don't want to hear the thoughts of some marketing guy. It does not help me and it and doesn't encourage me to use the product. It's not street marketing where you sell pots. I need specific information.
Show me the product weaknesses #
Every product has issues. I know about this, you know too. I want to be aware of them before I start the project.
I'm tired of reading all marketing articles and comments about advantages which are not always true. I also want to have a successful product. Let's help each other.
If you tell me that everything works and after six months it will turn out it's not, I won't be happy. I will not want to continue using your product or recommend it to anyone.
I would like to know the limitations and issues I can have. It may be a blocker for me to use your product, sure, it can happen. There is another possibility. It may give me an idea of what I can expect and how should I prepare my project. I may not need all features at the beginning and some workarounds can work for me. If I know that something is missing and it will be implemented in the next six months, there is a chance that I can still use your products.
I appreciate what you do but don't try to sell your product whatever the cost. A page with all known limitations, problems and plans to fix them would be great. It means that you care about the product and customers. The page like this is as important as the rest of the documentation. It's nothing wrong to have an MVP. Nothing is perfect right away.
I think it's better to hear about issues from people who create a product than from the community. It means that you are aware of them and you don't hide anything important. Transparency is good for your business.
Be transparent #
Tell me about all incidents and plans to prevent them in the future. It's essential for both of us. I need to know that I can trust you and I can trust your product.
It happened to me that some service didn't work for some time and I couldn't get any information. That's not something that encourages you to use the product.
Bugs happen, it's normal in the IT world and sooner or later it will happen. It is up to you how you inform the customer about this and assure the customer that you will fix it. Present what the problem was, what steps were taken to prevent it in the future. Everything will be fine.
Show me how to migrate from your service to another #
It's important. The lock-in issue is very popular and people care about it. It does not mean that they want to run away and do not use your product. It means that they want to have a choice and a possibility to grow and extend their product. They want to be sure that whatever happens, it won't destroy their business.
Most of the users may stay with your service if it works and provides a value for them. It may happen that after some time, the product does not meet their requirements. They may need other options which you don't provide. Maybe they don't like your product, which is also fine. Perhaps you want to change the product direction and not everyone will be happy with it. That's okay, too.
Let people have a choice. Having a document about possible migration to other services does not scare people, it gives them a reason to use your service. If your service helps me with my product and I know that it's possible to migrate the data out, it's a significant advantage and it calms me down! It's good news for me and you have a better chance of me using your application.
Too aggressive marketing, 1000 posts per day #
How often do you see articles about something which ends with a company advertisement? I see it every day and I'm not sure if it's a good idea. Hiring people to write articles about everything just to mention your product does not sound right. When I see many simple articles that were created to advertise your company, it looks like spam for me. I understand why you are doing this but it does not feel right to me. Try to promote through something valuable, not the number of articles on the Internet.
Free trial or account with limited options #
Give me a chance to see the product. I don't want to pay for a pig in a poke. I don't want to have a demo with your marketing team. I would like to try to use your product and see if it works for me. It's the best demo for me if I can play it myself.
I don't want to talk with your marketing team #
That's the next thing that annoys me. Sometimes I just want to do some research, see what value a product can give me. Just because I set up an account or ask a question doesn't mean that I want to use your product and I have a huge company that can bring you a lot of money. I don't want to receive emails over the next few days and see messages on a chat. Let me focus on testing your product. If I want to ask something, I will do that. Don't send the entire marketing department to me. It won't work.