Robert Wang, the inventor of the incredibly popular Instant Pot, claims he tries to read every review written about the product — which is a big undertaking considering there are more than 39,000 Amazon reviews on one model alone.
That is not just because his line of multi-cookers gets rave reviews as a bestseller. Wang, who has his PhD in Computer Science with a specialty in artificial intelligence, is trying to change the way cooking appliances are developed by putting a high priority on customer feedback.
Meticulously reading through reviews for ideas on how to improve the Instant Pot, some reviewers have been gifted the cooker to test out and provide feedback. "Those are the reviews that will point out the shortcomings of the product and give us insight to improve the products," he tells CNBC, adding that legacy appliances have not seen much improvement over the decades. "Every 12 months to 18 months, we introduce the next generation of Instant Pot incorporating feedback from our real customers," Wang has answered the call of many for an easy way to make healthy meals quickly and consistently. With features like burn protection, its no wonder the product took off.
He is intent on providing the best product he can, leading to the Instant Pot developing a deeply loyal following of users. On Instagram, owners laud the product as they share delicious-looking photos of what they have made with their Instant Pot. The Instant Pot's Facebook group alone has over 750,000 members and can see as many as 7,000 posts each day. Often they are users exchanging recipes, tips, and tricks, and singing the praises of the product. One group member shared a story of how her Instant Pot was accidentally and traumatically broken at the "unwitting hands of a clumsy (albeit remorseful) owner." Her story has a happy ending. The customer service team wrote her back offering to replace it for free.
The first generation of the Instant Pot was released in October of 2010 on Amazon. Wang claims that the most of the first purchasers were family and friends. This began the cycle of feedback and modification which Wang adopted from his days working for phone companies. He believes the key to the improvement of both lies in the addition of sensors. It was the second generation of the Instant Pot that took off in January 2013 when it became the bestseller on Amazon in the pressure cooker category. Now, there are more than ten versions of the Instant Pot available largely thanks to word of mouth. Instead, Wang and his team choose to focus their spending on product development and customer support.