A Classical Letter about "How to React when Users Disapprove your changes"

We all know about the recent Facebook changes i.e. Mini-Feed etc which were not accepted by its users (And technically it was not a privacy issue as they were only displaying the information that was already there – they just made it more easily available). But Users are Rulers (in Web 2.0 at least).

It happens a lot of times that users simply don’t like your software. Some companies turn a deaf ear. Others respond with promises of improvements in coming versions. Some even go to the extent of “informing its users” that users don’t understand company’s vision. Some even keep on claiming that only a small number of users are against it AND their loyal customers are happy with them.

What did Facebook do. Nothing like the above mentioned “standards”.

Mark Zuckerberg accepted his mistake. He addressed his users in his blog with “Calm down. Breathe. We hear you”. It was good. But the classical Letter was yet to come and it did come.

I have read his An Open Letter from Mark Zuckerberg several times and I am impressed and fascinated by his handling of such a complex situation. True to his words, Mark has heard his users and he changed Facebook the way users wanted it to be.

A few sentences from An Open Letter from Mark Zuckerberg

“We really messed this one up.”

“We did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them. I’d like to try to correct those errors now.”

“This may sound silly, but I want to thank all of you who have written in and created groups and protested.”

All the above lines are great. Great and simply Great. He is accepting his mistake. But wait – the real Classic is in the following lines where he seems to be out of this world. Before I quote the following lines, I must say that this letter should be included before preface in every book about Software Engineering, Customer Relations etc. This guy knows how to listen to the users and to act upon what they say. 

Mark wrote

Somehow we missed this point with News Feed and Mini-Feed and we didn’t build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I’m sorry for it. But apologizing isn’t enough. I wanted to make sure we did something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls

This is how you do the job right. You’ve done a mistake -> your users complained -> you accepted the mistake -> apologized -> But knowing that an apology is not enough, you worked day and night to modify it according to the user’s demands.

See how simple Real Software Engineering is !

P.S. I have never been a member of Facebook myself.


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