I’ve had a couple days to mull this over. Pretty much here’s how I feel at this point: We are not safe with Yahoo. By safe I mean your reliability of experience on Yahoo sites, your access to your own data (groups, mail, etc.), and your general emotional comfort level with their service.
Here’s why I think this.
What happened to Groups happened to all Yahoo sites. They overhauled all the Yahoo sites and gave no one on any site any warning. This was part of a rebranding move on all company sites. They do not appear to have done any opt-in nor any public beta with any of them. All the sites have had bugs, and most users don’t care for the look, feel, or missing functions. This new Yahoo is missing the mark badly with a goodly number of people, and they are making unilateral moves despite user reaction.
They are communicating poorly or not at all (indeed in the case of Groups, Jeff’s statements lead me to believe that they have no PR people on Groups staff at the moment), so you will not be apprised of changes; you will not be offered any warning; you will not be able to “brace for impact” whenever they get the next wild hair to overhaul something. Also, to judge by their reaction to this mess so far, all they will do is keep working on fixing bugs…which they were going to do anyway.
This management team could easily at any point have directed their teams to make sure user impact was minimized, made announcements, reassured people, etc. They chose not to, even for paying customers, which points to an absence of this kind of thinking at the highest levels. User satisfaction is not at the top of their list, nor really even at the middle. If they believe that it is, then there is a deficit of competence in understanding how to attain that, which again means we are not safe in their hands.
Worse still, they have let Jeff engage users at their level of outrage where he gets to make snarky petulant remarks online to outraged users. That is a major Customer Service no-no in any company, again pointing to considerable lack of understanding of these principles at the highest levels of management. I can only assume they have no experts on hand to admonish them on the way this twists the knife. Either they have not hired well in the CS department, or they have selected poorly or else are ignoring any advice they may get from those folks. The result is the same regardless. You will not get good Customer Service from Yahoo; they are simply not equipped to provide it. It’s not their priority, and it’s not their specialty.
You are in bad hands with Yahoo management at the moment. Seriously evaluate why you use any Yahoo product right now and decide if it’s worth the hassle of staying. Your experience is not going to be well looked after. Indeed you are secondary to their goals of the day. They are looking at metrics and not individuals. They see influx of activity and they say to themselves they have done a good job. No one trips over a plug overhauling Groups, and they call that 80-90% success. This is a management team that is clearly out to lunch. They can say otherwise all day, but the overall pattern is clear.
If you want to fight them to teach them a lesson about proceeding with such obliviousness and disregard to us, by all means, carry on. It is certainly a lesson they need to learn, though I know it will not result in a rollback for Groups or any other site (even Mail). If you want to flee/minimize your activity, now is a great time for that because activity drop-off is the only thing they will be measuring. Right now they see activity as increasing. Even using their systems to protest on is a form of reward to them because (in theory) we are now seeing their ads.
If you want to stick around and help them try to do something useful with Groups or Mail or any other product, just be aware with whom you are dealing. They are not set up to demonstrate proper or even typical care of customers – certainly not proactively, and barely adequately on the reactive side. They may hear your feedback; they may even act on it, but they won’t tell you anything helpful, not up front and barely afterwards. It’s just not the way they think. You will likely be continually frustrated here.
That’s how I see it and why you won’t see much of me around here. I have better places to spend my time and no compelling reason to endure a badly structured, unfocused management team looking after my experience. Nothing I have on a Yahoo site is worth this. In fact, you folks here are the ONLY reason I currently am here at all.
That’s my two cents for today.