Automating Feedback Collection Too Early Can Cost You

I’m a huge fan of automation. My start-up was able to scale because we cracked the code of creating repeatable processes and automating them to gain massive efficiency. I’ve chatted with a few founders recently who also embrace automation—but too early. These companies are still trying to find product–market fit, but they’re automating some or all interactions with the customer. When I hear this, it’s a huge red flag.

In the early stage of a company’s life cycle, you’ve identified a problem and built a solution to it. You don’t really know how good a job you’re doing solving the problem (unless paying user growth is skyrocketing). You usually need to let users play with the solution and get feedback. The feedback usually leads to product improvements. This cycle repeats until your solution is so great you’ve reached product–market fit.

Getting feedback from the customer is a key part of the cycle. Sometimes a customer will casually write something that, when double-clicked on, leads to a eureka moment and critical product improvement. If you automate feedback collection in the early days, you run the risk of missing the opportunity to double-click on seemingly small pieces of feedback. Said differently, you run the risk of missing your eureka moment that leads to product–market fit.

If you’re early in your founder journey, consider deferring automatic feedback collection until later and making time to talk with customers/users. One conversation with a customer/user could change the trajectory of your company!