Back in the days before COVID, when we could go to museums en masse, the Louvre in Paris had a problem. They had moved the Mona Lisa to a new room. The problem was, the room was only accessible through a single door and the resulting bottleneck led to many who had bought tickets being turned away or having to wait in line for hours to see the painting.

It was a horrible customer experience for thousands of museum goers. How many of them do think complained? How many requested a refund?

How do you know if you have a good quality product? Well, one of the things you could measure for that is how often you get customer complaints. Surely if there are very few clients complaining, the quality is good right?

Well, those museum goers who had a horrible experience: about 2% complained and less than 1% asked for a refund. I think there are two lessons to learn here.

In the first place, one customer complaint might just mean 50 to 100 other customers have the same pain point and never bothered to complain. Take customer complaints seriously. In the second place, you can’t rely on customer complaints to let you know when you have quality problems.

You need to do testing before releasing, and you need to have other ways of discovering problems that have been released that don’t require relying on customer complaints. When testing ahead of a release, don’t just look for functional bugs. Look for where users might experience pain. What things are going to give the customer a negative experience with the product?

Also, don’t just throw a product out there and assume that you’ll hear about the problems. Invest in some monitoring. Figure how to find those pain points for your customers and improve them without waiting for a complaint. As a software industry we have spent many years teaching people to put up with annoyances and frustrations. We can do better.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

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