How to listen to the voices of your users (4 simple hacks)


Your product users will have a lot to say about your product. But are you listening to their voices?

It’s easy to get sidetracked with building new features, sorting bugs, dealing with management, and every other job that comes with being part of a growing company.

It’s even easier to say: I know this is important, but I’ll do it tomorrow. Or maybe next week.

We understand. We’ve been tempted to do that ourselves!

However, listening to the voices of our users is one of the main reasons why we have a growing company with high customer retention.

Here are our simple hacks to make user feedback part of the daily business of your company.

1. Interview at least 2 users a month

Illustrations of customers

This probably seems a ridiculously low number to many companies. However, it can be intimidating reading user feedback articles by people with access to testing labs and consultants.

I’m suggesting you should do 2 user research interviews a month because it is realistic for almost any company. If you can do more, then great. If you can’t, at least you will be getting a regular supply of interesting and actionable insights.

We prioritise interviewing customers who are either ‘power users’ (so we want more of them) or are using our product in interesting ways, which might point to a growth opportunity in the future.

As a remote team ourselves, we also interview using video conferencing software (like Zoom.us or Whereby).

We’ve read articles extolling the virtues of in person interviews, particularly where you can see your user work, if you are a B2B (business to business) company. However, if you can’t do this then video interviews are a great idea. Don’t be put off interviewing customers because you can’t do it ‘perfectly’.

A few tips:

  • Use interviews to understand how customers actually use your product - sometimes this can surprise you
  • Try and surface any problems or friction with your product as well as any features users love
  • Keep interviews short. We usually stick to 20 mins – 30 mins maximum.

I wanted a way to capture customer feedback, build a community around it and organise that customer feedback. That was the fundamental problem. We did have forums, but with these it's top of mind in July and in September it's completely disappeared off the screen.

– Feedback from one of our customer interviews, clarifying what problem our product helps solve

2. Collect and prioritise feature requests

Feature requests can easily feel like a problem. You get a lot of them, through different channels. Many feel irrelevant to your vision for the product, or infeasible. Often, you end up listening to the voices of users who shout the loudest.

However, if you are strategic about feature requests, and more transparent about what you do with them, you can turn them into useful data that informs your product decisions.

First up, collect them in one place. This can be a spreadsheet, a Trello board, Jira, or on a purpose-built feature request board, like the ones we provide (in our article on roadmap voting we look at all these options).

If you really want to save time, get customers to add feature requests to this document themselves. That is definitely our favourite option. It saves a lot of admin work.

Once you have feature requests in one place, prioritise them through a voting system. Each time a user suggests a feature you’ve already been asked for, add a vote instead. Again, to save time, get customers to vote themselves.

You should quickly get a sense of what feature requests are most popular. You can also test out your new ideas with real users, by posting your suggestion on your feature request document or board.

A few tips:

  • To encourage everyone to contribute (rather than just super keen users) make giving feedback as easy and obvious as possible
  • Tell people what you are doing with their feedback using status updates on your feedback document like ‘under consideration’, ‘planned’ and ‘not planned’ so they know you are listening
  • Make your document public to get plentiful feedback, or private if you want to hear from a select group of customers

Our Feature Upvote feedback board A feature request board can simplify collecting and prioritising user feedback

3. Beta test new features

Working on new features, particularly significant ones, can feel complex enough. You don’t want users involved as well.

However, beta testing new features with a limited number of customers is a great way of making sure you are building something valuable. It is also a great way to build community around your product. People like being the first to see something, particularly if they requested it in the first place.

If you track feature requests in one place, you’ll have easy access to a list of people interested in the new feature you’re building. Simply get in touch, and invite them to be one of a select band of users who will experience the new feature. Then reach out for their feedback and iterate. Then repeat.

A few tips:

  • Acknowledge your beta testers in a newsletter or changelog – it’s always nice to be thanked
  • Make it easy for beta testers to give you feedback, so avoid scheduling 45 min calls that are hard to arrange and take a lot of time

4. Show users you want to hear their voices

If you invite users to contact you with their feedback and requests, then you are more likely to hear from a wide range of users – not just the ‘loud’ ones.

How you do this varies: it used to be enough to invite people to email you (or your support team). Now, the trend is for in-app messaging. The thinking behind this is that it makes it super easy for people to contact you on their terms, when they are using the product.

However, if you use in-app messaging make sure you won’t get in the way of people using your product. If people want to complete an action they don’t want a box popping up saying ‘hello, come and talk to me!’ This feels intrusive and self-centred, rather than helpful.

Another way to get feedback is to provide an obvious link saying ‘Suggest idea’ and then link to your feature request board, which is customised so it looks like a page on your website. This way, customer feedback is kept in one central place.

How Untangle ask for feedback Untangle provide an obvious in-app link to their user feedback board

Our Feature Upvote feedback board We provide a prominent feedback link on our support page

Also, on a higher level, show your users that they are important. We’re a self-funded company so have always made this part of our story. We don’t have to placate outside investors so we can develop the product in a way that makes sense for our customers.

Avoid taking actions that benefit your company at the expense of your customers. No matter how many times you tell your users you 'care' about them, you need to show this in the way you behave.

Show everyone in your team how users have helped make the product better

The key to incorporating customer feedback the daily business of your company is for everyone to see that it’s important.

It’s not enough that you do. You need management, developers and your sales team on board as well.

A simple way to do this is to get everyone to sit in on customer interviews on a rotating basis so they can see user problems (and appreciation) first hand. Or if this isn’t possible, at least widely circulate top takeaways and quotes from the interviews.

Also, celebrate company successes generated by customer feedback. You know that feature request from last year? It just helped your company grow by 15% this quarter!

Interested in an online feedback board?

Feature Upvote provides simple feedback boards with built in voting functionality. You can get started immediately. There is no learning curve for users. See pricing

  • Customised branding
  • Custom domain as standard
  • Unlimited contributors
  • Public or private boards
  • Multiple languages