From the member’s perspective, it’s a simple equation.
They have a problem and your organisation should fix it.
Better yet, they can see other members complaining about the same problem!
It’s a no-brainer!
In their minds, if you’re not going to fix the issue, you’re either incompetent or greedy (i.e. you’re taking their money without offering a quality service).
The reality is progress is complex and there are plenty of valid reasons why you can’t fix a problem yet. For example:
- The roadmap is established on highest priority issues and there’s no spare resource to solve it.
- You might be working on it, but it’s going to take time.
- You plan to depreciate that feature anyway.
- You can’t fix that one issue without fixing a number of other issues.
- Only a tiny number of people are voicing concern about it.
Worse yet, as much as your organisation might work internally to supply and validate the feedback and ensure people are aware of the concern, you might not be allowed to explain why the issue can’t be fixed.
You might not know how long it’s going to take, there might be laws that prevent you from discussing it, your organisation has concerns about competitors knowing what’s coming next etc…
This is a frustrating situation to be in. But two things might be helpful here.
First, be open from the very beginning that there are some things you might not be able to share. Have it in a document (perhaps with examples) and refer to it when a topic like this comes up.
Second, don’t just ignore the member. Always hear them out, be empathetic, and make sure they know you’ve read and considered their post.
Third, don’t promise anything you’re not 100% sure you can deliver on.