Improving your TECH by “eating your own dog food”

by Zeldeen Müller | 28,Feb,2024 | Employee Benefits, inSite Connect, Q1 2024

Improving technology solutions by adopting the perspective of the user, or “eating your own dog food,” is a powerful strategy for businesses aiming to enhance their technology platforms offered to board members, fund members, employers and other stakeholders. This approach involves using your own technology solution in-house in the same manner that clients would, instead of just running client focus groups and studying usability metrics. If your staff uses it in the same way as clients would, it will provide invaluable insights into the user experience.


A significant majority of unhappy customers, approximately 96%, do not voice their complaints? About 91% of these silent dissatisfied customers will simply leave and not return to the business.

How helpful are client focus groups to get feedback?

In focus group settings, the honesty of participants when reviewing a product can vary widely and is influenced by several factors. Some of these are:

  • Social desirability bias: This is a common issue where focus group participants give answers they believe are socially acceptable or that they think the researcher wants to hear, rather than their true opinions. This can lead to overly positive feedback.
  • Groupthink: In a group setting, individuals may conform to a consensus opinion rather than express their own views, especially if their views are contrary to that of the group’s.
  • Moderator influence: The way a moderator frames questions and interacts with participants can significantly impact the responses. A skilled moderator can minimise bias and encourage honest feedback.

In focus group settings, the honesty of participants when reviewing a product can vary widely.

The solution: case studies

Here are some strategies and case studies of companies that have successfully implemented this philosophy on three specific tech solutions:

  • Slack

Overview: Slack is a collaboration hub that brings the right people, information and tools together to get work done.

Key strategy: Slack’s adoption of its own platform for internal communication and project management exemplifies the “eat your own dog food” philosophy. This approach helped Slack to continuously refine and improve its features based on firsthand usage experience, ensuring the product met real world needs.

  • Dropbox

Overview: Dropbox is a file storage and collaboration platform.

Key strategy: Dropbox’s famous growth hack involved the use of its own product for all internal document storage and collaboration needs. By leveraging its own service, Dropbox was able to identify and fix many user experience issues before they affected customers, ensuring a smooth and reliable service.

  • Canva

Overview: Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content.

Key strategy: Canva uses its platform for all marketing materials, social media content and even presentations. This internal use helps Canva to continuously identify opportunities for new features and improvements, ensuring the platform remains intuitive and meets the growing needs of its users.

Each of these case studies showcases how companies can significantly improve their technology solutions by using their products in the same way their clients do.


But, will employees be more honest than client focus groups?

The honesty of employees when providing feedback to their boss about the company’s technology solution can be influenced by a variety of factors, including company culture, the relationship between employees and management, the mechanisms for feedback and the perceived consequences of being honest.

The factors that might influence employee honesty include:

  • Company culture: A company culture that encourages openness, values transparency and supports a no blame policy is more likely to foster honest feedback from employees. In environments where employees feel safe to express their true opinions without fear of negative repercussions, you’re more likely to get honest input.
  • The relationship between employees and management: Trust and respect between employees and their bosses are crucial. If employees feel their opinions are valued and taken seriously, and that their bosses are approachable, they’re more likely to be honest.
  • Perceived consequences: If employees believe that honest feedback could lead to positive changes, they’re more likely to be open. However, if they fear reprisal criticism, or that their feedback will be ignored, they may choose to withhold their true opinions or sugar-coat issues by making them sound more acceptable.

Transform your tech overnight with these employee feedback hacks!

  • Anonymity and confidentiality: Providing mechanisms for anonymous feedback can increase the honesty of employees since it removes the fear of direct negative consequences. Tools like anonymous surveys or feedback boxes can be effective.
  • Feedback mechanisms: The way feedback is collected can impact its honesty. Beyond anonymity, the method of feedback (for example, one-on-one meetings, focus groups, surveys) can affect how comfortable employees feel being truthful.
  • Encouragement of constructive criticism: Companies that train their employees and managers on how to give and receive constructive criticism effectively can improve the quality and honesty of feedback.
  • Incentivisation: Sometimes, providing incentives for honest feedback can be effective, though it’s important that this does not encourage dishonest positive feedback just to receive the incentive.

A final tip: Consider letting the head of your IT development team or your R&D team use the product in-house in day-to-day activities.

Understanding these influencing factors can help organisations create an environment that encourages truthful communication. This, in turn, can lead to meaningful improvements in products and processes.  This hands-on approach not only helps in identifying and addressing user pain points more effectively but also fosters innovation and drives product development towards features and services that offer real value to users.

Zeldeen Müller
Chief Executive Officer at AgendaWorx, Board Portals | + posts