If you work at Facebook, I feel bad for you, son. No seriously, I do, because it seems like your company just can’t catch a break. This year has not been friendly to the social networking powerhouse; between the botched IPO, the lukewarm reaction to Timeline and the frustration over every user’s e-mail being changed to @facebook.com, 2012 has been a year to forget for the Zuckerberg army. Today, things got a whole lot worse, with a recent report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index showing Facebook ranking among the lowest websites.
What went so wrong? Facebook is widely regarded as something people can’t live without – myself included. How can such a site be so successful while being so user-unfriendly? For years, Facebook has seen many sudden interface changes, annoying users who had been content with the site as it was. Recently, the changes have been more frequent and, in some cases, drastic. Timeline was announced much farther in advance than past UI/UX changes, but was still met with a great deal of protest from users who didn’t want the feature forced on them. Though I see the use for Timeline and am starting to get acclimated with it, more casual users just see the new setup as another nuisance, an unnecessary modification that serves no benefit.
Then there’s the new domain “@facebook.com,” which every user now has displayed in the e-mail section of their profiles; if this didn’t make you slap a hole through your forehead, consider yourself lucky. Not only was there no warning of this change, but it was unclear why it was done. How do we benefit from our e-mail address being changed? Did we suddenly sign up for some destined-to-fail mail service without being told? Changing the user’s experience is one thing, but changing their profile information will certainly go over like a lead balloon.
Then there’s the myriad of security issues, which is a blog post in and of itself. No matter how much overhauling Facebook does to its privacy features, something always goes wrong. When Facebook revamped their security options recently, it was promoted as revolutionary; however, it was nearly impossible to change them without having to read a how-to guide.
I sometimes wonder if Facebook even reaches out to customers for their input. Nowadays, simply having an e-mail account for user questions and suggestions doesn’t cut it; there needs to be focus groups, beta testing, the option to be “grandfathered,” etc. I can’t say anything about success, because the site is more successful than you or I (combined) will ever be, but in order to build consumer confidence, Facebook needs to start actively reaching out to users to gauge their satisfaction. Sometimes, nothing needs to be changed, and the only way Facebook can realize that is by leveraging customer opinions and insights. Conducting focus groups with active users is probably the best thing they can do going forward to ensure more successful rollouts of new features.
Until then, instead of scoffing at your claims that you’ll be “quitting Facebook (for real this time),” I might actually believe you.
What do you think? Does Facebook need a new plan to interact with customers in order to be successful? Do you plan on leaving Facebook because of some of these changes? Leave a comment below.