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Feedback is a vital piece of good customer experience

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It only takes one thing out of the norm to knock your confidence in a service you’ve trusted for years.

I was on the train about to start reading The Chalk Man, the first book in newly-formed DLG Digital Book Club, when I realised the entire left half of my Kindle screen was unresponsive. After making increasingly frustrated taps on the screen, I decided a restart would probably sort out the issue. It didn’t, and neither did a complete factory reset.

I turned to the usually reliable Amazon customer support team, but having failed to find a live chat I had to resort to sending a message using their contact page. I had no other option that didn’t involve speaking on the phone to another human.

A few minutes passed, and I began to doubt I’d actually sent the message.

I was 99% certain I had, but Amazon hadn’t sent me an email confirmation. What if I’d closed the message window too soon, and I’d be left waiting for a response that would never come?

I checked my spam. Nothing.

And my Amazon account didn’t have a history of my customer support messages.

I was completely in the dark; a new and uneasy place to be when dealing with such a leader in user experience.

My confidence that I’d sent the message was falling with each passing minute.

Wanting to make sure I got my Kindle fixed or replaced as quickly as possible, I began to consider sending a second message like some needy teenager in his first relationship.

My experience was far from what I expected from Amazon.

Bizarrely, I actually considered whether sending a second message would in some way anger Amazon and lead to them dealing with my request in a less favourable way.

I drafted a second message, but in the end decided to play it cool and not send it.

All this anxiety because I didn’t get an email confirming my message had been received.

Turns out, I had sent the email.

I know this because Amazon got back to me only 40 minutes later and promised a new Kindle would be delivered the next day – a quite remarkable piece of customer service in the end.

But, for that short period of time my experience was far from what I expected from Amazon.

The breakdown of the expected feedback loop, which was missing a vital piece of  communication from Amazon (an email confirmation), is what made me want to send the message again.

A feedback loop can be applied to all kinds of things we do without thinking. Who’s managed to print the same document four or five times because there was no feedback as to why the printer hadn’t already spat out your requested pages?

Think about the tactile vibrations from your phone: how unnatural and odd does using your phone feel when this feedback is turned off in the name of battery saving?

And what about websites that are slow loading, leading you to click the same button multiple times because you couldn’t be sure it had registered your previous click?

As user experiences improve, customer expectations from their trusted brands are higher than ever. It’s our job to make sure our standards don’t slip, as one seemingly small oversight could be enough to knock a customer’s confidence.