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Hootsuite takes the low road, blames complaints on “fear of change”

By June 19, 2013Blog

I’ve been watching the reaction to Hootsuite’s new social picker with interest. Many power users say it slows them down, and makes their jobs harder. Hootsuite’s official support account has chirpily thanked users for the complaints, but have offered no solution. Maybe that’s because Hootsuite believes users are the problem, rather than its software design choices. Check out this exchange with one user:
hootsuite_2013
Pamela’s response is absolutely correct. I would go a step further and say that Hootsuite’s comment is utterly patronizing. The “fear of change” excuse is something you see trotted out by organizations or management that believe customers are old, stupid, ignorant, and stubborn. It’s often associated with denial that the program or plan itself has faults, and/or hasn’t been communicated well.

Many of the complainers are paying power users who have have explained exactly what’s wrong with the new social picker (slows them down, inefficient, more steps involved, etc.). We have been through many other user interface changes in the past without quaking in our boots or complaining through clenched dentures. I’ve been using Hootsuite for more than 3 years and have been happy with the UX improvements … until now.

So, Hootsuite community managers (or CEO Ryan Holmes), if you happen to read this post:  Please don’t talk down to your customers. Listen to what they have to say, and evaluate it seriously. If not, you’re going to start to find that some of us will dump Hootsuite Pro accounts for tools that offer better functionality — without the attitude.

6 Comments

  • Hi Ian and others,

    I’m Sarah Chambers, Social Lead at HootSuite Support. I am the person who replied to Pamela earlier today and I want to apologize for giving the impression of anything other than sincere respect for our customers. We greatly value our customers and your feedback.

    When this picker was created, it was tested internally first, and then extensively user tested. We also tested by rolling it out slowly to small subset of users, and all of the stats and feedback regarding new features, such as default pins and searching were positive. We genuinely felt this change was for the better.

    I understand it appears that we aren’t doing anything immediately, and I can sympathize with that. I’ve sat with product managers, my Director and others in the company over the last week detailing how the new profile picker is slower in certain use cases based on user feedback I’ve been hearing first hand. Our team is committed to make the best possible version of the social network picker based on this feedback. There’s several things in the works (amazing, user requested features!) that will make the new design even more functional. I promise, we feel the weight of all of your words and feedback. I ask that you be patient with our development team over the next product cycles as we work to make this better. The second part of my tweet there is definitely the more important part: We DO recognize improvements can be made!

    Sincerely,

    Sarah @HootSuite_Help

    • Ian Lamont says:

      Sarah,

      I appreciate the fact that you took the time to reply, and used your real name.

      Considering the large disconnect between what your user testing revealed and what actual customers are saying now that you’ve rolled out the features, I would take a hard look at how testing data is gathered, responses are interpreted, and different customer groups are segmented. The Hootsuite team either didn’t get the right data, or it was interpreted incorrectly. On Twitter alone, we have seen dozens of power users with multiple social media accounts independently coming to the same conclusion: It slows us down, takes more steps, is inefficient, etc. I have seen one positive compliment about the pinning feature — from someone who by her own admission uses the same account 99% of the time and is probably not a Pro user.

      Regarding your promise that the new design will be even more functional: Do any of the design changes impact the way social media accounts are selected? And when will the new version be rolled out?

      Sincerely,

      Ian Lamont

  • I’m a power user, a Pro user, and a Hootsuite Partner, and I am one of the people who think the new picker is terrible. It was obviously tested with a subset of users who use only a handful of accounts at a time. I love Hootsuite, but “fear of change”? Seriously?

    I also found their replies on Twitter to power users a) asking about the change and b) suggesting why it wasn’t working for them to be condescending in tone – unlike Hootsuite’s usually excellent online persona.

    For example, I found this exchange so unhelpful that I just gave up with a pat reply of “I’ll check it out” instead of what I was really thinking, which was “If you took two seconds to look into whether or not I have a Pro account, you’d know I already know about your feedback forum, and that telling me to look at it again is an unhelpful and condescending reply in this instance”. Also, why did the person not hit reply to the tweet where I explained why it didn’t work for a power user? Did they see it? Not see it? Or see it and not care? (This is that tweet: https://twitter.com/leslie/status/347071816633823233)

    I am underwhelmed when any company that makes a good tool makes a change based only on how they use it internally or how an individual or corporation who may be a client with only one set of accounts and personas uses it. It’s social media: more often than not an agency is both using and (more importantly) writing about and promoting your tool to clients, and agencies and power users are often tasked with monitoring, managing and mentoring these accounts – how many I have at any one time varies according to client load, but is usually in the double digits – with multiple social networks for each. The drop down and name picker is NOT the way to go for that situation.

    Here’s hoping Hootsuite fixes this ASAP.

  • Iva says:

    Another power user here – three Twitter accounts, two Facebook ones. I had accidentally sent my personal tweets to the account of the 7K Facebook page I’m running 4-5 times already since this was introduced. I can only imagine what could happen to a brand, if this happened to me.

  • bruce says:

    The new Hootsuite mobile app, look for Android tablets is awful. It takes me forever to update new messages and that is when it updates! Tonight I am still waiting for updates and I looked for new messages over 3 hours ago.

  • Longislander2 says:

    Anyone visiting here to evaluate Hootsuite would be well-advised to listen to my story below.

    Cancelling an account with Hootsuite is a nightmare. As in the old days with AOL, you have to be a detective to hunt down the cancellation mechanism. The company tries to hide it and, I guess, hopes that you will give up and just accept the monthly charges while receiving nothing in return.

    I cancelled my account last December and received an immediate notice of termination, as well as a statement from the company that my credit card information would be expunged from their records. Well, I later received monthly charges to my credit card in December, January, February and now March. American Express has already resolved two of the unauthorized charges with credits in my favor and two are still pending. Hootsuite does not even respond to American Express. In the meantime, I have ordered Amex to put a “merchant block” on Hootsuite, preventing them from any further charges to my account over the next four years. Believe me, based on my experience with Hootsuite’s mediocre services and with the cancellation process, it will be no sacrifice.

    Unless you want to be caught up in this kind of quagmire, my advice to others is to stay away from this company and find another social media management organization.