Social

(Episode 1) User improvements are all part of the process!

Bill Webster

Author: Bill Webster

Heads up Zenvoy’s product development. Former architect & urban designer, Harvard alum, and super-recognizer. Loves skiing in the winter and sailing in the summer. Other posts by Bill Webster

Building a networking platform is tough. Like, really tough. Over the past five months we have been working hard delivering improvements to our core product, welcoming new clients and traveling to fantastic shows, but we left our blog and social sites a bit bare.

That ends today!  We’d like to take some time to bring old and new Zenvoy users up to date on what the future holds! I think this might make for a fun periodic blog topic.

 

1. What’s the current state of Zenvoy?


As of April 2017, Zenvoy is making about ~21,000 introductions a month among our 200+ different communities and events. Our average member:

 

Is 38 years old

Has 16 years of professional experience

Prefers to receive a new introduction every 18 days

Looks for introductions within 120 miles of their office

 

2. Eliciting feedback is hard


Well, not just feedback more specifically post introduction reviews.   Zenvoy uses a host of matching algorithms to arrange introductions and a key component to the success or failure of this process surrounds your long-term networking trends. We need to know what you liked or didn’t like. In the past, we utilized a convoluted 5 star rating system, but found that <3% of users opted to rate the value of their introductions. In fact, we had more people email us directly to complain than submit an official review! It was obvious, something had to be done.

 

 

To combat the problem we ditched the stars in favor of thumbs! Similar to Netflix recent findings, we discovered that users wanted an easier and more generalized feedback option.

 

“When people see thumbs, they know that they are used to teach the system about their tastes with the goal of finding more great {introductions},” “That’s why when we tested replacing stars with thumbs we saw an astounding 200% increase in ratings activity.” -Cameron Johnson, Director of Netflix Product Innovation

 

We opted to ask users for a simple binary answer, they either: “Liked this intro” or thought of it as “Not a great fit.” Shockingly, people seemed to favor this approach because their feedback now reflected their preference for a “type” of introduction, rather than a critique of a specific individual. Similar to Netflix we have seen our response rate balloon by over 230%. We’re still testing, but so far things are looking very promising.

 

3. Introductions are not enough!


This has been a real surprise. Both our users and clients have universally made their opinions clear:

 

“While our members enjoy receiving monthly 1-on-1 biz/dev introductions, many feel the need to leverage the knowledge-base of the entire community as a whole more often and in a less prescriptive way.”

 

What this means is, tailored introductions are great, but we want to be able to talk with everyone in the group, whenever we want! While this is a great idea, our experience had taught us to be leery of unfettered communication.

A big problem we dealt with in Zenvoy’s early development was allowing a user access to everyone’s contact information all the time.  We noticed the use of “cherry-picking” tactics which quickly resulted in high value members being inundated with spam, and eventually unsubscribing from our service.

We really do our best to maintain a mutually beneficial introduction environment, and sometimes that means protecting our users from themselves! Nonetheless, we dug deep and came out with a fantastic solution: Offers, Wants & Questions Billboard.

This “Leads” functionality allows members to solicit their networking communities independently from the Zenvoy algorithm.  New opportunities are posted daily and viewed via a public billboard and bi-weekly newsletter. Members may self-select the offers or wants they find interesting and communicate through our private messaging system.

We are excited to launch this new feature and hope these opportunities further increase the networking value of Zenvoy for our current members!


Remember, we are always looking for ways to improve and make Zenvoy better! Please feel free to reach out and give us your thoughts or suggestions.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

 

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