17 June 2019 | 17 Comments
Most of my articles are geared towards creators, but today I’d like to talk to customers, as you have a special power you may not know about.
Before I get into this, I want to be clear in saying that when consumers criticize or complain about creators, products, entrepreneurs, and companies, it can have a positive impact. It certainly helps if it’s solicited, constructive criticism, but even if it’s just an angry rant, it can make a difference.
Basically, I’m not discounting the value of criticism. 95% of the time, criticism stems from a place of passion–if someone took the time to complain about something, it’s usually because they care.
This is a broad generalization, but I would wager that the vast majority of opinions they hear from customers are a combination of criticisms and general praise. Just as the criticism is helpful, general praise can provide a nice emotional boost–creators are people too! :)
However, there’s another type of extremely powerful feedback that I seldom hear: Specific, targeted affirmation.
For most creators, companies, and products, 90% of what they do is good. Like, you’re probably reading this on a computer or phone right now. Do you like the screen on that device? The user interface? The position of the buttons? The color/texture of the metal? I’m at least 90% happy with my computer and phone–they’re incredible marvels of technology.
Have I ever shared those details with Velocity Micro or Apple? Nope. I like all those things and want to buy products from them in the future, products with those same characteristics I already love. But how will they know to keep doing what they’re already doing unless I tell them?
We’re far more likely to tell a company how we think they should change instead of precisely what we hope they continue doing.
This is where consumers have immense power if they choose to publicly or privately affirm specific elements and actions of creators–it’s just so rare! And I really mean specific. Here are some examples from my recent purchases and experiences:
- I appreciate R & R Rescue Ranch for letting little Martha (pictured here) wander around the stable as we visited the other mini horses. She was so friendly!
- I like that Nathaniel Reid Bakery had 5+ people helping out behind the counter at lunchtime on Saturday. It helped the line move quickly, and it made me feel like they have a customer-first philosophy.
- I really like that each of the meeples in Trade on the Tigris are different shapes. It’s a small touch, but I appreciate that attention to detail by Tasty Minstrel Games (and I’m sure it helps colorblind folks).
I think it’s tough to get in the habit of providing these specific affirmations, so here are two cues I try to use:
- Whenever I have a complaint about a product or company, I instead try to think of another similar product or company I’ve used recently with which I had a good experience. I then try to share something specific I liked about the good experience.
- Whenever I notice a cool little detail (often about games), I try to highlight it in the corresponding “favorite mechanism” video on my YouTube channel, as I want that company and other companies to continue implementing those subtle-yet-impactful touches.
An extension of this type of feedback is when you request that a company does something and then they actually do it, it reinforces the decision if you follow up (privately or publicly) to say that you like it. For example, years ago, someone requested that we start using latex-free rubber bands because they were allergic to normal rubber bands. I made the change (a change that has since impacted hundreds of thousands of games), yet I never heard from the person, which kind of surprised me.
Finally, what can creators do to encourage this type of feedback? Well, sometimes I think we just have to ask. For example, I rarely hear from people that they specifically like the achievement sheets we include in some of our games. I don’t know if that’s something we should continue to sometimes print. So I once just flat-out asked the folks in the Scythe Facebook group if they use the achievement sheet, and I was surprised by how many people said they did. I think that had a direct impact on our decision to include an achievement sheet in My Little Scythe.
If you’re open to it, I’d like to invite you in the comments below to share a specific affirmation about a product or company you recently had an experience with. Please do not use anything related to me or Stonemaier Games for your comment–I’m totally fine with you doing that in the future, but not here.
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