You can build better products by listening to user feedback. You can spot problems that are losing you money. You can surface great ideas that will attract new users and retain existing ones.
However, collecting and processing feedback can be tough. You can feel overwhelmed by feedback from 10 different channels. Or underwhelmed by feedback from just a few ‘loud voices’.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
Here are our 4 simple tips to make collecting and prioritising feedback a simple and rewarding process.
- Interview at least 2 users a month
- Show all users you want to hear from them
- Collect feedback in one place, analyse it and prioritise it
- Close the feedback loop
1. Interview at least 2 users a month
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. Do more if you can. If you can’t, at least you will be getting a regular supply of interesting and actionable insights.
Should you interview any user?
I generally think that any feedback is better than no feedback, but it’s better to be strategic – rather than reactive – when it comes to customer interviews. You’ll get better results. We interview a few different types of customers:
Our ‘power users’ are really our ideal customers. They give every indication of having a high lifetime value, they love our product and they use it regularly. We want more of them so we try and find out why we are such a good fit.
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 users
Users from specific customer segments
Although we have customers from a quite incredible number of industries using our product, we do see some patterns. These might point to a growth opportunity, so I usually try and schedule research interviews to explore these use cases. This is particularly important if this customer segment is one that I don’t know much about (like games developers!).
Customers who have been using our product for 2-3 months can still remember the events and problems that caused them to sign up with us. By talking to them, we discover why they decided to use our product, what problem it solves, what frustrations remain, and what they tried before.
What should you ask users?
Rene Bastijans has written a helpful article on why you should ask customers for specific feedback, rather than just initiating a general conversation.
Even if you are a “small team” you can still do this type of research yourselves. It requires two people from your team or company (one for driving the conversation, one for asking follow-up questions) and usually takes about 15 customer interviews until you hit the point when you will no longer collect new data.
How should you conduct interviews?
As a remote team ourselves, we 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. However, if you can’t do this, or don’t wish to, then video interviews are a great idea.
Don’t be put off interviewing customers because you can’t do it ‘perfectly’. Even an email interview is much better than none at all.
A few tips for user interviews:
- Use interviews to understand how customers actually use your product rather than how you think they use it. Sometimes this can surprise you.
- Try and surface problems or friction with your product as well as more positive feedback
- Keep interviews short. We usually stick to 20-30 mins maximum.
2. Show all users you want to hear from them
If you enthusiastically invite all 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 or the very cross ones.
When we match customer feedback to what we’re seeing in our analytics, we get a much clearer picture of what’s going on. Then we’ll know how to fix problems and go after the right opportunities.– Lars Lofgren, Marketing Analyst
How you can get feedback from all your users
You want to find easy, obvious and welcoming ways for your customers to give you feedback. Here are some popular options:
Invitation to join product community/Slack channel/WhatsApp group
Contact support options
‘Feedback’ button sending people to a feedback board
Direct reach out
There are plenty of feedback tools on the market to help you get started with user feedback. Mopinion looks at the 30 Best Customer Feedback Tools, covering Voice of the Customer Tools, Survey Tools, Online Review Tools, User Testing Tools, Visual Feedback Tools and Community Feedback tools.
If this looks like too much choice, then we’ve written an article to help you decide what type of feedback software you need. Then you can quickly narrow down your options.
How games developer Manacube gets user feedback
Manacube asks for suggestions from their top menu
Users then arrive at a feedback board (this one provided by Feature Upvote) where they can vote up suggestions they agree with or add new suggestions. Manacube, in turn, tell customers what is happening to their suggestions with a status update.
Have a feedback process
The easier you make it for people to give you feedback, the more likely they are to do so.
However, inviting users to give you feedback is just the first step. You also need to make sure your users – and your team – feel happy with the whole feedback experience. This could mean:
You follow up on user feedback – it can be demoralising for customers to send feedback only to never hear anything back or to get a stock reply
That you can cope with the feedback you’re inviting: so if your main feedback channel is through customer support then you need to make sure you have sufficient resources
That if you set up a community or chat group you are able to moderate it properly so that is remains helpful and spam free
That if you use ‘live chat’ then it is helpful to users rather than robotic and frustrating
You also need to make sure that user feedback won’t be a massive time-sink once you have collected it.
You need feedback to be in a useful format where it can be analysed and prioritised immediately. Otherwise you will be left with a lot of manual processes as you try and collect feedback in one place yourself, and try and work out if you’ve heard a feedback snippet before from another user.
We’ll look at this issue in the next section.
A few tips for getting feedback from users:
- Sometimes you can see a customer has a problem and reach out to them first – this usually results in good will from the customer
- Make it really obvious how users can give you feedback – and if you have different channels for bug reports, feature requests and so on
- Try asking for feedback in different places, or through different channels (providing they all link up)
3. Collect feedback in one place, analyse it and prioritise it
All too often, you end up wondering whether collecting feedback from users is actually worth the hassle of trying to process it and gain product insights.
However, feedback from users will help you build better products!
Even though product managers say that direct customer feedback is the top source of new product ideas, a startling 86% say that they don’t spend enough time talking to users.
– Alpha Product Management Insights Report 2020
First up, collect feedback in one place. This can be a spreadsheet, a Trello board, Jira, or on a purpose-built feature request board (in our article on roadmap voting we look at all these options).
A feature request board can simplify collecting and prioritising user feedback
Slack even have a Twitter app so you can allocate a channel to all mentions of your company on social media.
Once you have feedback in one place, you can analyse it and prioritise it.
To save time, you can get customers to prioritise feedback themselves, using some kind of public feedback portal and voting system. This is possible with Trello, and easy with feedback boards.
Your main aim is to sport patterns that point to problems with the product that are costing you money, as well as opportunities for product development.
Feedback software should generally make ‘pattern spotting’ easier. For example, simple feedback boards with built-in voting like Feature Upvote will quickly show which suggestions are the most popular with your users.
Other feedback software, like UserVoice, will charge a premium price to give you more sophisticated analytical tools.
You need to work out which feedback software – if any – is most suitable for your team. If you can, try them out first (most offer a 30 day free trial) so you don’t waste your time on something that is too complicated/too simple for your needs.
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 lots of feedback, or private if you want to hear from a select group of customers
4. Close the feedback loop
User are more likely to give you feedback, and be satisfied with the experience, if you let them know what has happened to their suggestion or idea. This is true whether you act on their suggestion or not.
You can close the feedback loop in a few ways. The best and most personal way is to directly reply to anyone who made a suggestion or upvoted it. You can add a status update to a public feedback board like ‘planned’ or ‘done’. If you don’t use a feedback board, you can contact users directly by email or social media.
Users will then know that you have listened to their feedback, even if you have chosen not to act on it.
If you can’t be so personal, because of software or time constraints, you can always show recent product updates using a dashboard widget, newsletter and so on. Users won’t experience that ‘you care about ME’ moment, but at least they’ll see that you care about updating your product.
A few tips:
- Closing the feedback loop is most successful if you respond directly to users who made a suggestion
- You should still reply to users even if you won’t do something – learning to say ‘no’ is important for any company and can still result in a satisfied customer.
Here is our article on How to say no to a feature request.
Celebrate customer feedback within your company
The key to incorporating customer feedback into the daily business of your company is for everyone to see that it’s important.
It’s not enough that you know it’s important. 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. Another possibility is to circulate a stripped down version of the most important customer feedback from all channels, for that week or month, so everyone can understand what your customers want.
Then celebrate product success that you can directly attribute to user feedback!
Just in case…
Feature Upvote provides simple feedback boards with built-in voting functionality.
Your customers add and upvote suggestions. You let them know which suggestions will be implemented. Customers see that you care about their feedback. You surface valuable product ideas with minimum effort.