Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Sad Cats of (A Tale of Customer Service in No Way Worthy of T.S. Eliot and Edward Gorey)

Especially since I have complained about in this space before (and especially especially, because that post, depressingly, is my most popular post ever, if site stats are to be believed), I wanted to make a point of publicly complimenting the organization on a good interaction that I had with them.

With no warning, spontaneously changed the layout of their web site and I hate it. The low contrast makes it hard to read, the full listing of everyone's activity in small white boxes makes for a lot more scrolling through screens with no sense of visual hierarchy, and it seemed like change for change's sake, a la Facebook, rather than change in the interest of functionality.

I tweeted my dismay:
The first reply I got was a picture of a sad cat from one of their developers. Maybe not the most professional response on the planet, but whatever mood I was in meant it struck me as really funny.
But then I got two more sad cats from from their developers. (I swear. I'm eventually getting to the part where they act like responsible human beings attending to a user complaint.)
By this point I was getting a little big concerned that I was going to go to sleep and wake up with a feed full of sad cat photos from developers.
In fact, a colleague tweeted to thank me for sending him a PDF offprint of my new article, and I replied that it was good that he had it, since I was fully expecting my page to be full of sad, terrified cats by the morning, too.
In the narrative structure of the anecdote, you may identify this moment as the turning point.

What I in fact woke up to was an email to my NYU account  from the operations manager, apologizing for the loopy cat antics of the night previous and asking if I wouldn't mind putting my concerns about the new layout into more than 140 characters, with copy to one of the company VPs. I figured that if they were going out of their way to solicit feedback, then I had a responsibility to provide it rather than just engage in short-form griping, so I did.  I got a rather lengthy reply from the VP, thanking me for my feedback, explaining why they made the changes that they did and what their planned next phases of development are (which include increasing the contrast between the white background and light gray text!). It seems like the kind of thing that they should have made more public before changing the site on people, but I was pleased that they were willing to take the time to tell their end users what's going on. It's certainly far more than Facebook does with even more serious issues at stake.

So, kitten' around aside, nice job on this one, guys!

(And now a return to your regularly scheduled cat photos, namely ones of my own cat sitting on my own book manuscript and mostly looking bored.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience, Sarah! While the next round of changes won't be a huge departure from the new design, your feedback did influence some of the decisions that are being made.

    The good news is that the new design has resulted in a huge increase in downloads and bookmarks which means more papers are being discovered and recirculated than before. More discovery = more exposure = more citations. Hopefully after making a few changes we'll be able to maintain this increase in engagement while making the feed a more pleasurable experience for users like yourself.

    Thank you again for your feedback.

    Conway Anderson
    VP of Product