How do you share constructive and helpful feedback with a tool provider?

Tools can frustrate us, that’s for sure.

Yet they are part of our daily life. They are there to support our testing efforts and help us do what we need to do.

Love 'em or hate 'em, tool providers are part of the testing community. They have engineering teams (or perhaps a person) building the tools. They probably share similar engineering/testing struggles as we all do.

There’s a great opportunity to help tool providers improve their products and services.

How do you form a good relationship with a tool provider? How do you share with them in a way that encourages collaboration to help them help you (and others)?

Share your advice and stories on this post.

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When you’re already a customer…emphasize the relationship as not being a one-time sale. You are providing feedback to the vendor with the (hopeful) goal that their tools will then be even more effective and delivering value to you as a customer. Then, remind them that there must be other potential customers that would want to see that feedback implemented in new features as well.

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Very rarely. I never assume that a tool I use was built for me. And that’s a helpful start, because not only is any feedback I might give going to obviously be a use-case they never “tested” because they never thought of it, and never had it in their vision goal. But also that I might just be one of millions of people with different needs. Online feedback channels are really just a distraction tactic, we all know that.

The fact that tool vendors rarely state what the tool they are selling is intended for (other than it’s intended to make them money), they also omit to describe what the tool is not intended for. (Basically a list of features it does not have, why would they?) So even knowing how to frame feedback that aligns with their tool’s goal or company vision is often above my writing skills level.

I bought 2 tools the other day as once-offs. One turned out just fine, the other turned out to be pretty much abandonware and poor performance, and when I contacted the makers, it was pretty much: “Great idea, wait for the next version” and then tumbleweed. But that never stops me promoting tools that worked well for me, and writing a negative review otherwise. Promoting good it the best tool we have.