Fancy A Geo-Coffee and Chat?


[important]GUEST OPINION PIECE[/important]


 rhr_nl is a Dutch resident, active geocacher and has his own geocaching blogSince March 2006, he has found only 300 caches but hey, it’s not about numbers. 🙂


Ten years ago, when you started that coffee shop, life was easy. Some people loved your coffee shop and others hated it. You ignored the haters and focussed on the lovers because they brought you the money. Over time your coffee shop has evolved; you have extended your menu and serve different kinds of beans now instead of just coffee. Because of this evolution, more people have started to love your shop. On the other side, some of the people who loved your business when it began will hate the evolution your shop has gone through. They loved that simple coffee shop around the corner, but they still have that emotional connection and continue to come to your shop. They interact with the other customers and just won’t stop telling them that the shop was way better years ago. You see that your new customers are getting annoyed by your old customers.  You realise no matter how much better your coffee is compared to the early days, the customer experience is never going to be as good as it was. How are your going to solve this issue?

Some options:

  1. You change the concept of your shop and make it like it was in the early days. 
  2. You forbid your early, negative customers to come to your shop; 
  3. You kindly ask your early, negative customers to stop talking about the old days;
  4. You create a separate room for the new customers and the early, negative customers so they won’t interact that much;
  5. You discuss the issue with your early, negative customers.

Option 1 is simply not an option. It will throw you back 10 years ago, flushing all the extra income you have generated over the last 10 years through the sewers.   

Groundspeak and a lot of other examples, have showed us the last 10 years that option 2, 3 and 4 don’t work. You can forbid, ask or create whatever you want, if people want to be heard, they find a way to be heard. They don’t care whether they are heard in your shop, just outside your shop or somewhere on the internet. And there are always people willing to listen to them.   

So, the only option is to discuss the issue. To make them understand your choices. Listen to their alternatives, explain why you can’t execute them or if possible search together for a good solution for both sides. I know, this is not easy. But owning a successfull business is never easy. It is always a though job and a lot of work. But going into that discussion every time is important. It must be done. If you don’t do it, your coffee will never be as good as you intended it to be.

For this reason every business needs to be easily accessible for feedback. Also Geocaching.com needs to be. And Geocaching.com was easily accessible for feedback with the feedback section. But they blew it. They took the ideas they liked and ignored all the other feedback, just like in the early days. By doing so they gave people false hope by making them think they were heard. In stead of a lot of explaining, discussing and working together with their customers on solutions and exploring new paths, Groundspeak simply rejected the ideas they didn’t like. I can imagine why customers got unreasonable or bonkers and that the feedback section became a PR nightmare for Groundspeak. But hiding the feedback section somewhere deep in the forums doesn’t make the PR nightmare go away. It puts the caring but negative people back on the street again, talking about you somewhere you don’t know.

If people are talking bad about my coffeeshop, I want them to talk somewhere I can hear it. I want to take action before they ruin the taste of my coffee. If feedback becomes a nightmare, change the way you handle it. Hiding from it may ruin your shop!

What are your thoughts? Share them over a cup of joe in comments below!



  1. CraigRat

    User voice was a good middle ground solution by allowing the *COMMUNITY* to vote on ideas, but unfortunately Groundspeak didn’t like what was being said for a lot of things and they canned some highly voted for suggestions for no reason other than they didn’t agree with the direction their *CUSTOMERS* wanted them to go in.

    It appears to me that they tend to adopt a defensive position whenever paying members ask for something in return for their money. Lets face it, it took them nearly 10 years to finally offer up 1000 cache PQs and better maps, and for about 5 or 6 years there in the middle the site hardly changed one bit, in look and in features!! (not to mention the sarcastic feedback that used to be posted in their forums whenever someone put forward an idea)

    Quite frankly I don’t think they are the best stewards to take the game forward, if anything they have devolved the game by removing certain cache types and it’s why I haven’t listed a cache on their site since 2005, even before I got involved in running an alternate site.

  2. Lone R

    The thing that seems to motivate Groundspeak is the threat of serious competition. For years people were asking for a rating system. The forums were full of requests for some tool to help separate the chaff from the wheat. Nothing was done until, not surprisingly, the launch of Garmin’s geocaching site. This new database featured a rating system. Almost on the same day as the Garmin launch GS introduced the Favorite vote system. I’m very pleased that they introduced Favorite votes but I’m not happy that GS disregards the members of the GC community and worse placates it’s members with Feedback forums.

    1. sTeamTraen

      Knowing how long Groundspeak takes to develop new features, I can pretty much guarantee that the appearance of the Favorites system just after Garmin launched OpenCaching was a coincidence. Maybe the existence of OX has pushed GS to do some more stuff, but I don’t think that they take OX very seriously any more.

      More generally, I’m trying to think of another company, anywhere on the Internet, that listens to – and communicates with – its customers as much as Groundspeak does. Sure, they don’t/won’t/can’t implement everything that everybody asks for, but for a small operation they’re doing pretty well. If you have a support problem which isn’t getting fixed by e-mail, you can just phone their offices and talk to a Lackey – try that with Google or Facebook…

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