Design Your Biz: Customer Feedback

Today's Design Your Biz segment is about customer feedback.
Knit & crochet designers have access to more customer feedback than ever before. Many of us have Ravelry groups, people can leave us comments on the Ravelry pattern pages, we get emails, private messages on Ravelry, notes sent through forms on our websites, etc.

It can be overwhelming. And sometimes the feedback isn't so nice.

So, first I'd like to touch on the "not so nice" customer feedback. This might not be the most fun blog topic on the planet, but it's important to talk about it. I want designers (especially the newer ones) to know that it isn't you. This happens to all of us unfortunately.

Every designer has at least one story of receiving "that message." Luckily for me, those are verrrry few and far between these days, but I've gotten everything from "get a new job" (with a few expletives thrown in there for good measure) to "I'm telling all my designer friends what a terrible designer you are." Yikes.

At the beginning, these messages would really shake me up. I'd get all upset. Sometimes I'd actually consider quitting my dream to work on this full time.

While the occasional angry feedback can still rock me a little but, I've really worked on changing my perspective.

I try to put myself in their shoes. Maybe something is going on in their personal life and they are having a terrible day. Maybe they are just incredibly frustrated that whatever they are making isn't working out (I mean, I do put my knitting in timeout all the time).

Not that anyone should be sending messages full of terrible things to someone, but, in this business, it's going to happen. So I just remind myself that "It's just sticks and string, right? We aren't exactly drafting an international peace policy." And then I kill them with kindness. :) Trust me, when you get these types of messages, the last thing you want to do is be nice, but it's the right thing to do. Many times I've actually received apology emails in return!

And, full disclosure, if they are especially terrible, I don't answer them at all. Sometimes it's better not to engage people that are going to be super-duper awful to you.

Ok, enough about the bad....let's move onto what the vast majority of my customer feedback is - the good kind! :)

I really do love hearing from my customers. They've helped me make decisions in my designs and business in general over the years. For example, when I first started designing, I included the written instructions for the charts for all my shawl designs. I've received so much feedback from knitters over the years that they love having that. Is it more work for me? Yep, a little bit, but I don't plan to change it. Because of the feedback I've received, I know that people want it, so it's completely worth it for me to do it. Truthfully, it's now weirdly one of my favorite parts of pattern writing.

I've also started working on a new design recently as a result of customer feedback. I talked about it a little in my last Design Your Biz post and you can also see my giant swatch in this video. My customers have sent me lots of notes over the years saying they want a pi shawl with armholes. So I'm finally listening! I can't wait to work on this some more this fall. I know many of you will love it, because you told me so!

I could go on and on about customer feedback. :)

But the bottom line is, good or bad, customer feedback is here to stay.

If you're a designer (or work in any job where you receive customer feedback), I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

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