Here’s an idea to help your team build empathy for what customers are feeling when they use your service.

Read raw, unedited customer feedback about your product or service as a team.

There’s probably a ton of this data kicking around your organization’s customer service, chat, CRM tools, and social media.

Often this data is aggregated and filtered heavily prior to reaching a delivery team, if it reaches the delivery team at all.

It’s hard to empathize with “1% of customers were impacted by loss of work.”

But when the actual message looks something like:

I spent 8 hours creating a Memorial photo book for my grandmother’s funeral, but the application crashed when I tried to order the book. I lost my work and I don’t have time to recreate it for Monday. Frustrated and disappointed.


We split the comment service out of the monolith in this sprint, and I have to say the new starter project and deployment process defaults are much better than they were six months ago. Thanks!

The connection to other people and the work our impact has on them is much clearer.

This feedback will often be highly-focused on a particular point of pain or delight. After all, the moment had to be significant enough to motivate them to action.

Of course we want to help these people. There may even be valuable clues to problems that get swept away in aggregation.

In some situations, such as the second example for an internal compute platform, you may need to go ask for that feedback. Sitting in on a retrospective with permission may work, but 5-30 minutes of private feedback from your peer (née customer) over coffee may work better.

In my experience, ten samples is often enough to connect teams to customers and help distinguish the most important bugs and features in the backlog.

Go look – I’d love to hear a bit about you find and how it affected the team.