I frequently see people remark that Autodesk doesn’t listen to its customers. I’ve made that remark myself in relation to certain specific items, most recently the botched discussion group update. Of the six Rate Autodesk polls, the Listening to its customers poll shows easily the biggest bias towards the wrong end of the graph.
Now I happen to know that Autodesk goes to some lengths to find out what its customers are thinking (more on that later), but still this feeling of being ignored persists among its customers. Why is this so? Why do so many of you hold this view? I have my own thoughts about this, but right now I’m more interested in yours.
I’d like to see some examples that make you think that Autodesk doesn’t care about your viewpoints, wishes and desires. If you can suggest ways in which Autodesk could do things better, let’s hear them. On the other hand, if you believe that Autodesk is listening, please provide examples that show that to be the case.
I will be asking some Autodesk people the same question very soon, in addition to any questions you pose in my Ask Autodesk a question post (more questions, please!). I will report back on the answers, so it will be interesting to compare your comments with what the Autodesk people have to say.
I think the number one thing I feel they dont listen about is bug fixes/design flaws. In my own little world, I dont understand how we can have a bug/design flaw reported that keeps showing up unfixed release after release. It all goes back to the release cycle, if they had more time, they probably wouldnt have such issues with bugs and design flaws.
It has been my experience that Autodesk consistently asks it’s users what they think. Heidi Hewett just posted a survey on her blog, Myfeedback is always there, Autodesk Labs, AUGI Wish list items are sometimes picked up, and more. It is my opinion that communication goes both ways. It is much easier for me as an individual to try to talk to Autodesk, but it is much more difficult for a big world wide company to try and talk to me. Also, to be honest, Autodesk’s concern really lies on the managers or people in a company that make the decision to purchase the software, not the aver user. It’s sad I know but i really feel that is the truth. Do they care what I think? No because I am not purchasing licenses of AutoCAD, or any of their products. Now if I was the manager in charge of purchasing 100 licenses of AutoCAD for a company then they would have a need to listen to me.
That being said, knowing who a big company listens to, I am of the opinion that it is the managers obligation to make sure Autodesk listens to them. If they don’t, then the best way to get a company’s attention is to start using a different product.
In short, I feel that Autodesk goes to great lengths to try to get the opinions of its users.
I don’t think it is fair to say that Autodesk doesn’t listen. I think they just choose to not act on certain feedback, which unfortunately gives the appearance of not listening.
An example of good response to their customers: The 2009 Bonus Pack 2 which brought the ability to reference in a PDF file, along with improvements to the previously added feature of plotting to PDF from AutoCAD.
An example of poor response: The huge list of little tweaks that have been asked for, by many users, for a long time, and never implemented. Why? I guess because little tweaks do not sell software. Examples include ability to window select grips, the Measure and Divide commands still require you to type in block names instead of providing a GUI, and PEDIT is still a rudimentary command, requiring several steps to do something simple such as adding or removing a vertex. I’ll even throw the Action Recorder in here. What people were asking for is a VBA recorder like the one in MS Office, but what they got instead was basically a tool to create an un-editable, binary script file
i think there is a world of difference… between Autodesk not listening and the perception of Autodesk not listening. yes, there are times when bugs haven’t been fixed between releases… the company is always balacing what new technologies they can get in, and what old technologies they can fix. and sometimes a product manager hasn’t done his/her time in the trenches and really doesn’t have a clue why a particular request has been requested for so long. doubtful that pattern will ever change. however, a lot of requests are for specialized uses which would not benefit the masses and when these specialized requests don’t get implemented, the perception is that Autodesk isn’t listening. sometimes thos specialized requests are already in a vertical, not in vanilla, and again the perception is that autodesk isn’t listening. anyone on the beta program knows autodesk is listening… but whether or not all those ideas can get implemented in the next release is quite another issue.
I think it sorta comes and goes. Some years we see new features that are just what we’ve been asking for. Yay, the Desk listens!
Some years we wonder where the heck the new stuff comes from (general reaction to the ribbon?) and its, “Boo, the Desk doesn’t listen!”
Program bugs are where we get our biggest case of imbeingignored-itis. Steve, you of ALL of us know this – you are the bug-meister.
But does bug-fixing get new income for the desk? Or will we jump ship because your column doesn’t get rendered a cipher? No, we’ll keep on paying, year-by-year, because we don’t like the alternative.
Why do you think Autodesk is not listening?
Simply because they DO NOT answer! No answer is not a true indication but it is correct to assume that because no answer is received their intentions to listen are questionable despite the apparent ‘effort’ put in collecting information.
How you would gauge Autodesk’s response to a ‘bug’ notification, error message report or a request for the insertion of a new feature can be done several ways but all of these inputs should receive a direct response from an Autodesk staffer.
But there is one area Autodesk consistently not only refuse to listen but have gone out of their way to avoid discussion, listening or answering; and that is to do with ‘licencing’.
Autodesk refusal to listen to reason in this area is now well documented. The problem this has presented for Autodesk is that their appalling lack of response has rendered their Subscription and Licence Terms and Conditions void! If you have Autodesk Subscription(s) or software you can all but ignore the licencing conditions: this does not mean you can ignore copyright, as that can be separately addressed.
If Autodesk would negotiate their T&C’s that would very effectively demonstrate listening!
Most often the Autodesk response seems to be no response at all. If there’s no response I think it’s perfectly normal to feel that you’re being ignored. An auto-responder doesn’t count.
When there is a response it seems to be: (1) “It’s too late in the process to fix that. Maybe in the next release.” These seldom seem to get fixed in the next release. (2) “It would be too hard to do that.” I think it was the keyboard input routine that got that response several years ago. (3) “We don’t have the resources.” … but they do have manpower to keep changing fluff like toolbar icons. (4) “I can’t comment for legal reasons.”
It looks to me like most of the decision makers and programmers are too far removed from actual use of the software. I know many deskers used to work on the design/drafting side, but the world has changed in the last 10 years or so. The actual users I know want fast, relible, and consistent. What we get is eye candy, more clicks to do the same function, and slower overall operation. This approach didn’t work for Vista, either. The “wow factor” gets really old really fast, especially when it slows down your work process. As an engineer who designs in Autocad I want to get done and on to the next job. As an employer I want my staff to get on to the next job as quickly as possible. Time is money. The first change I make to every XP installation is turning off explodes, fades, and all the other time-wasting eye candy.
But the biggest issue is that the most common response is no response.
Try and use the Subscription Center inside AutoCAD 2010 (it’s at the top-right, the key-icon). That’s right – it doesn’t work. It’s kinda obvious they don’t want to hear from you. Using Siebel as a web portal is another more-subtle hint at this.
No, some poor phone-desk Muppet phoning me to apologise for bugs the developers refuse to fix is not the answer I am paying good money for. “Talk to the hand!” is what that says.
That is why I think AutoCAD isn’t listening.