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TEDxBrighton only receives positive feedback

It’s a bit mean to hilight just one culprit here – this isn’t that rare – but it’s something I’ve been meaning to talk about for ages. Sometimes, bad or broken user-interface has a direct, measureable impact on a business, due to increased customer-support costs (usually CS is paid by the minute or by the hour), or due to incorrect marketing and sales campaigns that are funded in future.

I’m not a UX person, I’m a games person. So, of course, it’s the game-design side that interests me here. Are there any free, public reports on the same phenomenon in games? I have vague memories of this coming-up at at least one of the games companies I’ve worked for, but we couldn’t find sufficient evidence at the time. IIRC, the argument was over “where is the point of diminishing returns?”, given the idea that decreased costs in support-queries justify *some* additional spending on the user-interface for a game.

Anyway, in the case I just saw, people who applied for TEDx but failed to get a ticket are auto-subscribed to a mailing list whether or not they asked for it (not unusual, but the practice always stinks of spam to me), and if they unsubscribe (manually) then their comments just get ignored: the website has been constructed so that the feedback form can’t be submitted.

I’m sure it was an accident (I’m assuming they checked the form before going live, but that it only works in one web-browser. All I know is that it didn’t work in Firefox). Either way, it would seem to ensure that “the first licensed TEDx conference” has great feedback when the licensors come to evaluate it.

Will this cost them? Not so clearly as other examples (see below for anecdotal evidence), but cost may come when they fail to take into account the negative feedback that people tried to give them, but was never received. (I’m assuming that nearly everyone who unsubscribes will have negative feedback – although in the past, when I’ve been monitoring un-sub forms, we’ve often seen 5-10% positive comments in there too. Sometimes you even see people “apologizing” for unsubscribing from your mailing lists!)

Going back to the issue of *actual* financial loss … this reminds me of a couple of talks at last year’s UX Brighton conference, and the websites listing black-hat/white-hat ways of “manipulating” the audience by making the “unsubscribe” and “refund” forms legally valid but practically impossible to complete.

In those cases, the gain/loss is usually quantifiable (allegedly). Although the practice was unanimously reviled by people at the conference, someone stood up and admitted to some experience in it – with the observation that although it “Worked” the client had then asked to un-do the process, because it increased the number of angry people phoning Customer Support (instead of using the website), and CSR staff are expensive enough that the practice had decreased profits.

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