Best ways to collect user feedback
Feedback
Collecting user feedback is a great way to generate ideas for your product.
Customer feedback is extremely valuable and will help you to improve your product. Every business can get customer feedback from multiple sources - learn which ways can work best for your business.

Product owners get information from a huge variety of sources. Example sources include: your own product/internal teams, analytics & tracking data within the product, and competitor analysis. All these give clues for how to make the product better.

So what do we mean by customer or user feedback? Customer feedback is direct feedback from your users and is based on their actual experience. As such, it is extremely valuable and can generate insights ranging from high level information (like if the user's pain point is truly solved), or minute details (like the layout of a specific page being confusing). As a result, customer feedback generates great value, with the ability to improve key product metrics like conversion and churn.

Let's take a closer look at some key user feedback channels.

Customer Support Emails

Regardless of your business model, you very likely have an email support channel. Even if the customer is not asking for a feature request, they are still providing feedback! It may not seem like it (especially if the customer is angry), there is a huge amount of information contained here.

Think carefully about what customers are saying for when they talk about your product. Focus on any problems that they may be having, and look for where customers struggle or get confused. These are huge hints towards improving the usability of your product. By improving the customer experience, you'll also work towards improving other metrics like churn and conversions.

In-app feedback collection

Feedback can be collected directly from your app. By having a feedback collection form so close to the source of user interactions, the user will be more likely to submit feedback, and their thoughts will be freshest in their mind.

In order for you to allow for user input within your app, you will need to decide if you will develop this functionality yourself, for utilize a pre built service. (ie, build vs buy). The benefits of developing this internally is that you can fully customize the behavior and appearance of your feedback form. However, this also means that you will need to spend time and resources - which may be better spent implementing improvements to your core business needs instead.

Alternatively, you can use a prebuilt solution. If you are developing a browser based app, the installation of a "widget", which is an embeddable JavaScript file, is quite simple and only takes a few minutes. A well built widget provides all the functionality of the feedback form. and should allow you to easily trigger opening the form, as well as some customization.

Either route works fine, and makes it easy for users to submit their feedback.

Customer Interviews

Customer interviews are one on one interviews that you conduct with your customers, or prospective customers. They can be done in person, over video conference, or over the phone. The key is: you are talking to the person directly. Generally 15 or 30 minutes, they are extremely valuable because you are able to get a dense amount of information in a short time.

By having a real-time talk with your user, you are able to immediately ask follow up questions when something isn't clear, or when you've heard something that surprised you. If the call is done with video or in person, you can also garner some information by the user's facial expressions or body language.

Make an effort to schedule customer interviews regularly. It may seem like a hassle, but it's well worth the effort. If possible, ask to record the interview so that you can review later or share with your team, and generate a transcript. If that's not possible or the user doesn't agree, make sure to take copious notes during the call. You could also have another person from your team on the call as a note-taker.

Surveys

Surveys are a set of questions that you can send to a large number of users. This is a great method for quickly collecting a data from many users. Use-cases for surveys include: general sentiment about your product, finding out about usability issues, or collecting supplementary or demographic information.

You could also integrate surveys at a specific point in the flow of their customer journey. For example, during onboarding, or when they have requested to cancel (also known as an exit survey or a churn survey).

When creating surveys, make sure to include some questions that are open-ended, so that you can get some feedback in the user's own words. They may say something that you hadn't considered!

Sales Calls

If you have a sales team, this is a great source of information. Your sales team talks to customers, or potential customers, every day. Following up with existing customers is a great way to get feedback on their experience - what went well, and what went poorly. If you have a specific aspect of your product you are curious about, you could also ask your salespeople to bring up those questions during follow ups.

As well, sales will talk to people who are not your customers yet. This is a good opportunity to hear about any reservations about your product, or what might not be clear in the marketing materials. If the potential client is actively shopping for a solution, you can also get some feedback on the competition, and how your product stacks up.

Either way, don't let the feedback from sales calls go to waste. Just like the customer interviews, try to record the calls and keep detailed notes of each interaction.

What works best for you?

First of all, you don't need to confine yourself to just one channel! Go ahead and implement all of them if you have the bandwidth. Early, on it is common for a product manager or founder to to chase a single user to get a conversion, so customer interviews make sense here. As a product grows, it may make sense to introduce surveys so that you can reach more of your audience.

Either way, make sure you you are consolidate your feedback into a central feedback repository. This will help see which insights are common and which ones are one-off requests.

The takeaway

These are some common ways that you can hear from your customers directly. Try to get as many people on your team involved in identifying and tracking feedback. This includes founders, product managers, customer support, customer success, and sales.

Once you have learned about what users think of your product, then you can use it to make your product better. The challenge is being able to see trends in the insights that your users have provided. Since there are so many different channels of gathering customer feedback, it can be difficult to consolidate them all into a single location.

A product management platform is a place to track customer feedback and tie it to product features in the backlog. Using a tool like this makes it much easier for you to focus on building a better product roadmap. Ensure that the voice of the customer is heard - at the beginning, and throughout the decision making process!

Work on what matters.

Build better products.

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