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Getting Feedback When Your Colleagues Are Also Your Customers

Getting and using feedback from colleagues who are also customers using your product can improve the quality of the product and help to improve the way of working. In this situation, it’s easier to receive feedback, but you can get overloaded by it.

Ada Pohl will speak about getting feedback when your customers are your colleagues at Agile Testing Days 2022. This conference will be held November 21-24 in Potsdam, Germany.

At MOIA, a ride sharing company, all parts of developing and running the service as well as the vehicles and drivers are internal. According to Pohl, there are upsides and downsides to getting and using feedback when your customers are also your colleagues:

The biggest upside is that you have easy access to feedback. You can approach colleagues directly or send out emails or surveys. Either way, you know where and who your customers are which makes getting feedback much easier.

A downside can be that you get too much feedback, unfiltered and maybe even unwanted. Which means you need to work through it to find the pieces that you can work with.

According to Pohl, the whole team benefits from having a feedback culture, as they develop their application very closely together with the drivers who are their customers; the biggest benefits were the rise in quality of the product they work on, the processes with which they work, and also the happiness of the team members.

InfoQ interviewed Ada Pohl about getting feedback.

InfoQ: What purposes can feedback serve?

Ada Pohl: Feedback helps you understand how your user is using your product, what works for them, what doesn’t work & what might be missing. Working agile we want to continuously learn and develop what we release. Ideas can look good on paper, but only reality shows how well they hold up and what needs or should be tweaked.

InfoQ: What methods do you use for collecting feedback? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these methods?

Pohl: Working on the navigation app for a ride pooling service we send out monthly surveys to our drivers with repeated questions for standing features as well as questions for new features.

We do interviews with individual drivers e.g. when we are about to release a bigger feature and want to know how it is perceived.

Another way of collecting feedback is a BugInbox Jira Board, through which our Hub Service Center Agents can send us any problem that gets reported by the drivers during their work. And we have bi-weekly exchanges with them for deeper feedback.

On top of this, we log actions & events of our application for monitoring and debugging. A lot of the time we might even start with just logging a new event to see if it gets sent when we expect it, and thereby learning from our data first, before implementing huge new features.

And we do test drives in which developers who implemented the feature are the driver. This has a huge impact on quality because putting on the driver’s shoes and experiencing the application as close to the real world usage as possible helps the team to get a better feeling of what might and might not be a good solution.

Especially for products like ours, testing interactions with a navigation system at your desk is just so different compared to testing it in the car.

InfoQ: How do you use the feedback that you get in your daily work?

Pohl: In my role as a quality specialist, I ask lots of questions. Having all the knowledge that feedback brings me means I can ask many more questions.

InfoQ: What have you learned?

Pohl: So much, but I think the most significant learning is that you need more than one way to collect feedback. Only with different ways and methods can you learn as much as you need to create a service or product that not only works for yourself, but also for your customer, especially in the situation where your customer will use your service or product.

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