There is a traditional market research technique called voice of the customer (VoC). Many people are familiar with this process, which involves surveys, interviews, and even watching customers interact with your products. Some companies use customer advisory boards (CAB) to collect feedback, too.


There’s no shortage of ways to get feedback from customers. The #hardtruth is that many of the ways are cold and unfeeling. It can take years for feedback to work its way into a product. I find that many companies talk about valuing customer feedback but fall short of connecting with their customers in a meaningful way.


When I joined Confio in 2010, my perception of the VoC process changed. It was there that I understood how it should work. Shortly after coming on board, I provided feedback regarding the monitoring of databases running inside of VMware. Have a look at this screen:



That stacked view, showing metrics inside the engine, the guest, the host, and storage? That’s what I told our dev team a DBA needed to see. Seven years later and that view still stands out when giving demos. The annotations were also something I requested. I wanted DBAs to know if there was an event on the host for that VM.


I still remember the feeling I had when I saw my feedback was used to make our product better. Imagine if a customer had the opportunity to do the same.


Well, imagine no more! The SolarWinds Usabili-buddy program is your opportunity! Go here to sign up for the program.


Usabili-buddy Example

Here’s an example of how the program has had a positive impact for everyone.


While working on the upgrade to alerting, the UX team was working with customers and gathering feedback. While there was already a roadmap and screens of how the UI for alerting would look, these customers noticed a gap in the feature. The customers recalled experiences in the past where they had misconfigured an alert and accidentally triggered an alert storm.


These customers wanted a way to avoid spamming end users due to a misconfigured alert. As a group, they came up with the feature below, on their own



I know, you can't see that, here is a closer look:



This was NOT on the original roadmap, but product management loved this idea. It was included in the very next release. 


Other companies talk about listening to their customers. We don’t just talk the talk. You can see the impact that the Usabili-buddy program and UX team has had over the years.


At SolarWinds, we’re listening. We know that we’re all in this together.


We don’t treat customers as revenue. We build relationships with them.


When you become a customer, you are a member of a community, not just a number in Salesforce.


Help Us, Help You, Help Them


We have 55 products now.


Managing many products is a challenging task. But we are fortunate that our user community makes it easier. The quality of customers we have allows for better feedback, and better feedback leads to better products. Thank you for giving us your time, helping to make the products better for the next user.


But they aren’t our products. They are yours. We just maintain the source code.


Usability improvements are part of every release, and the UX team meets with product development on a daily basis. In each product cycle, UX plays an important role. It's a cycle of continuous improvement, and a project that is never done.


At the end of the day we all want the same thing: happiness. We want happy customers, enjoying long weekends, without worry.


If you have an idea, or just want to help, join the program and share.


Help us, help you, help them.