Does Mozilla Champion the Voice of Firefox Users?

While presenting at and attending the eMetrics conference a couple months back, I noticed one concept heavily emphasized by several presenters — “Voice of the Customer.”  Several leaders within the analytics world were able to show how they’ve transformed their organizations and industries by allowing “Voice of the Customer” to drive most actions and decision making across their respective enterprises.

Mozilla has traditionally been very much in-tune with the temperature and feelings of its users, much more so than I’ve seen at other organizations.  However, we’ve sometimes noticed our own blind spots, and over the past year or so, we’ve been working to get on top of our “Voice of the User.”

3d person - puppet with an orange megaphone

What do I mean by “Voice of the User”?

Every day, across many avenues, tens of thousands of Firefox users describe a pain point they’ve encountered or comment about their experience with Firefox or make a suggestion.  The sum of all of these voices constitutes what I’m referring to as “Voice of the User”.  To provide more specificity, here is a list of some channels through which Firefox users are speaking to us every day:

This list is not fully exhaustive, but it provides a good overview for how we can think about “Voice of the User” at a high-level.

So, what strides have we made in the past year?  And where do we go from here?  First, let’s look at some of the ground we’ve covered so far (this is in no way meant to capture everything):

  • Uninstall Surveydata was analyzed for the first time, a new version was launched, and the current data is now more accessible and usable
  • Firefox Support — understands its role in quickly discovering emerging issues affecting users and escalating them, and more work is currently being done along these lines
  • Installer Survey — was conceived and launched
  • Major Update Survey — was conceived and launched (details coming soon!)
  • Report Broken Web Site — we’ll be publishing the first breakdown and analysis of Reporter data this summer
  • Bugzilla – there’s a current project underway aimed at answering some key analytical questions related to Bugzilla and providing folks with a bunch more information (e.g., bug burn down rate by product, issues by status and product, average days to resolution by priority and product, open vs close trend by product, etc.)
  • Customer Satisfaction Survey – was conceived and launched
  • Social media – we’ve started looking at tools allowing us to synthesize user feedback and comments

But we’re not done yet.  We have more work ahead of us and I’m sure we’ll come across more stones unturned.


Taking a step back from all the specific examples just highlighted, how do you think we should be approaching “Voice of the User” more generally?  How can we optimally stay on top of feedback from Firefox users on a daily basis, considering that that feedback comes from a wide range of channels and that it numbers in the tens of thousands (daily)?  Are there broad organizational/community structures or strategies that can help us, i.e., structure/routines/culture that can transform the “Voice of the User” into decisions and actions?

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7 responses

  1. Philip Chee wrote on :

    Talking about blind-spots. I know you said your list isn’t exhaustive but you don’t mention a very active user support channel, the Mozillazine forums. In the past I’ve urged other mozilla developers to maintain a presence there if only to maintain a feel of the zeitgeist, however I was universally rebuffed.


  2. David Boswell wrote on :

    As someone who moderates the list, I’m definitely interested in why people are seeking Firefox and Thunderbird support there. It would be interesting to look into this some more to try to put some numbers around how many people want email and/or phone support and also perhaps do a survey that gets sent to people who email asking for email or phone support to see how they feel that would work better for them than existing options.

  3. Gen Kanai wrote on :

    @David: can we have an automated reply from Webmaster@ that points people to better places to get support (i.e. SuMo & MozillaZine)?

  4. Gen Kanai wrote on :

    @Philip: Who rebuffed you? I’m surprised and sad to hear that.

  5. David Tenser wrote on :

    @Gen: To the best of my knowledge, we already have an auto-responder. Some e-mails are still manually sent over to our internal support mailing list where people from the SUMO team send personal responses.

    @Philip: I’d also be very interested to hear who rebuffed you. When did this happen? MozillaZine is the oldest and one of the most vibrant support communities there is for Mozilla. I know that some people in the mZ community historically viewed SUMO as a competitor, but I engaged deeply in those discussions and hope I have made it clear that that’s not the case.

    Many volunteers help out in both places, like Alice Wyman. Perhaps we could do more to share insights and collaborate between our sites? Please let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks!

  6. David Boswell wrote on :

    There is an autoresponder sent to all people who email webmaster and it sends people to the relevant support places. That’s useful, but there are two issues:

    * Some people respond to the auto response and say that they’ve tried those resources and they weren’t able to answer their questions.

    * Pointing people in the right place doesn’t really give us any information about why they’re emailing webmaster for support in the first place.

    Having a survey could help us get more information about both of those points.

  7. Gervase Markham wrote on :

    I think Philip is saying that he was rebuffed when he asked Mozilla *developers* to maintain a presence in the MozillaZine forums. Which I feel is fair. Developers don’t have infinite time, and most would probably prefer to stay in developer-focussed forums rather than support ones. Particularly now we have the excellent SUMO team and other community members working on support issues, who are looking after the users very well.