The vision for SUMO – Part 1: Listen as hard as we can

During the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about how far we’ve come with Firefox Support since we started. Since the SUMO team was formally created, we have grown from a fairly buggy web site managed by a tight group of people, to a truly community-powered support channel with over 70 active contributors per week. This is an amazing achievement that really shows the strength of the Mozilla community.

Mission complete? Far from it. From my perspective, we’ve just started. I’ve thought a lot about what we should do to take SUMO to the next level, something I playfully called SUMO 2.0 when discussing this with the team at the summit (people familiar with our roadmap know we haven’t actually hit 1.0 yet). Ideas were collected from many different places and people, including of course the amazing SUMO community. After looking at the list of ideas we’ve gathered so far, I realized that posting it all in one big chunk would be too much to digest to really be interesting to people, so I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts instead. Behold, for you are reading part one.

The most important reason why Firefox has been so successful over the years is our focus on the user. All features in Firefox have been designed with the mainstream user in mind. Back in the early m/b and Phoenix days when the user-base was marginal (think 5-6 people), the Firefox team could simply ask friends and family to collect user feedback.

Today, over 200 million people use Firefox, so maintaining a user-centric focus becomes more challenging, but at the same time more important than ever before. SUMO will play a key role here. To truly become a successful support channel for the most popular open source project in the world, we need to keep listening. As hard as we can. Some things we should start doing straight away:

Identify the most common support issues and requests and share the insights with the rest of the Mozilla community

SUMO is in a very powerful position when considering our direct connection with end-users. There are a lot of insights we can make by just paying close attention to what our users are telling us. What are the most commonly reported issues our users are experiencing with Firefox? What are the most common complains? This is invaluable info for the development and QA teams, as it can tell us exactly what we need to do to make the most impact on our users. By fixing the most common issues, we get happier users.

Monitor and improve the quality of support using customer satisfaction and performance metrics

How is the SUMO community performing? Are we making the right priorities? Are we better at some things, and worse at others? Getting a better insight on how we’re doing is critical in determining our overall quality. We’re currently working hard to get some of this implemented, but there are more things planned. I’ll get back to this later on in this series.

Monitor and respond to user feedback and support questions in the forum, Live Chat, e-mail, letters, and Hendrix

Of course, we are already doing this to a large extent, but we can do even better. We should be looking at user feedback from all these channels and combine the gathered data to get a better overview of what we’re seeing. We should help people who ask for support in the wrong channels finding their way to the solution.

Thoughts? Please send me your feedback! Stay tuned for part two…

One thought on “The vision for SUMO – Part 1: Listen as hard as we can

  1. Vern M.

    Hi David. I’d like to know how you generally plan on collecting all this data from users? Certainly the SUMO blog is a great way to do that, in the form of comments, email feedback, etc… But it sounds to me like you’re attempting to organize the opinions of potentially millions of users to provide the Mozilla developers with the broadest possible set of user preferences. You may have a brilliant back end for that herculean task already, but if you don’t, might I suggest using a customer survey? It may sound simplistic, especially considering all of the little nooks and crannys in such a large piece of software, but I think it would enable you to get the most common feedback from a huge set of users quickly and easily. The technically minded will almost always submit bug reports anyway, but the average web user would probably do a lot better with a simple survey form and an essay question about what they’d like to see from Mozilla.

    Cheers to you and the Firefox!

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