Assuring a constant flow of product feedback is vital for so many reasons. You can gain valuable insight from the feedback of your users, build a community around the product and increase your credibility with potential customers at the same time. But how do you make sure that you’re not missing any worthy feedback channels? By following along with our list of the best ways to gather valuable product feedback. But first, let’s start with the basics.
Lean product roadmapping powered by product feedback
Actionable product feedback is an essential building block of lean product roadmapping. What concept do you build your lead startup around? Probably making small, incremental steps and getting market validation as fast as possible. As soon as you have a prototype or MVP ready, put it out there to see if it provides a solution to a real problem. This way you can test early on whether the feature or product is critical to solving a given problem.
No wonder “Release early, release often” is the motto of Product Managers. Having the first-mover advantage is a key factor of competitiveness today in product development. You can achieve that by
- developing quickly &
- building on the right idea, and solving real problems.
Doesn’t get leaner than the discovery-feedback loop
What if we take the speed of development out of the equation? The only variable we’re left with to optimize for is the idea. Think about it. If you can gather valuable product feedback on the idea without development, you can start the development phase with a much better understanding of several aspects. For example:
- How your users have been solving the given issue so far?
- Who needs to tackle the issue?
- What are the main pain points?
- Who are the other important stakeholders?
How can this be done?
Have some good mockups ready, a solid base of power users & some reliable channels to gather product feedback from. Show your planned features to your users. This way they can reflect on them before they are deployed.
Build a community to get more product feedback
Once you start getting in touch with your power users, early adopters, or champions, you can start building a beta user base. You’ll always be able to turn to this group of users before launching a new product or feature. Early adopters are aware that the beta version or a prototype has flaws. However, they’re usually so tech-savvy that they don’t mind occasional glitches.
This way, you’ll start building a community around your product. Power users exhibit high engagement, high responsiveness, and high loyalty if they see that their feedback was valued. A small, but solid follower base is essential to kickstart the hype when you come to the market with something new.
Which users to ask for feedback?
As for product feedback, your goal is to receive deep and actionable insights that will make your product better. This can come from all user groups, but it’s most likely to come from advocates or champions.
On the other hand, you can use feedback collection to deepen the relationship with your users and push them to the next level. That is to say, turn affluents and advocates into champions.
The 4 best ways to get actionable product feedback
1. In-app surveys
Generally, surveys are great for getting an idea about the magnitude of things and trends, since they provide mainly quantitative results as opposed to the qualitative nature of interviews. In-app surveys are a special subset of surveys that are meant to tackle low response rates by eliminating friction from the process. By keeping users in the app, in-app surveys solve two issues at the same time:
- you get valuable user feedback &
- you can increase the user’s time spent on the app.
The in-app survey can serve a variety of business areas from customer success to marketing, but the most common is product development. They work well for a variety of product feedback such as for validating feature ideas, rating existing features, identifying user pains, or asking for reviews. They can take various forms from a simple pop-up message asking how much you like a feature to custom solutions.
The best thing about in-app surveys…
… is that you can segment your audience well. Ask only users who have completed a certain step or who use a give integration to get a better answer rate and to make your questions more relevant!
Pro tip #1 : You can gather valuable insight from users who already have some experience with your app, are current subscribers, don’t target new users and users who have not used the app in a long time or are not regular users.
Pro tip #2 : People don’t like to type, make the questions as easy as possible, give people options whether those are multiple choice answers, numbers or emojis, that they can choose from if they want to answer quickly but also leave the option open for a longer answer. Having quantitative data makes it also significantly easier for you to summarise results.
Pro tip #3 : Be careful with multiple choice answers. Make sure that you’ve made it clear what the options actually mean. We need to make a confession here: this is a lesson we learnt from our own mistakes. When you provide answers to you audience, they might have a very different understanding of those options. For instance, we asked our users why they find StoriesOnBoard useful and gave them options like: a) high-level overview, b) better visibility on projects etc. It was only when we interviewed our power users that we found out that these mean something very different for everyone.
2. Out-of-app surveys
The truth is people find out-of-app surveys a hassle. Feedback requests per e-mail leading to third-party review sites seem like a waste of time. We’ve all been there, but the time can come when we desperately need the generosity of our users with their time to fill in these surveys.
What can we do to improve response rates of out-of-app surveys?
Create a process for them and benefit from quantity. Try to automatize the process so that users who complete a given step will be asked immediately to provide a review. Make sure that on completing that steps, they are ready to be asked to be surveyed.
Since the friction is quite high, users must leave the app or whatever they were doing, and make sure to always follow up with an email. This way users who were reluctant to break their workflows, but who would be willing to be surveyed otherwise, get another chance to give feedback. In your ask, be specific, don’t be afraid of asking but refrain from being too pushy.
Pro tip #4 : In case of out-of-app surveys, improve response rates by offering an incentive.-Don’t just expect your users to take valuable time to do work for you, give something in exchange even if it’s not a monetary incentive, do your best to provide some value in exchange.
3. Customer interviews
While in-app surveys work only with existing users, you may also find customer interviews with churned customers or the competitor’s customers useful. However, it’s slightly trickier to get hold of those interviewees.
When to use customer interviews in product research?
Anytime from the discovery stages through prototyping to upgrading. The best way is to turn it into a regular practice to assure the influx of continuous feedback on your product.
Who conducts user interviews?
Although customer interviews can be led by the Product Owner, in many cases they are done by a professional researcher or a specific lead role from the front lines. It’s best to have two people present for better understanding and also because one person can take notes while the other follows along with the conversation.
Regardless of who conducts the interview, the prep work needed to be done remains unchanged. Doing research on the customer before the interview and drafting a good script is a must.
Pro tip #5 : Decrease the friction of user interviews by setting a reasonable time frame. If you ask for a 30 minute interview instead of 90 minutes, customers will be more likely to agree to it. Be ready that you’ll have only that limited time frame and you’ll have to make the most of it, so always keep an eye on the questions. If you’re short on time, while your questions seem infinite, try to focus on identifying the pain points of the customer. That proves to be the information of the highest value in most cases.
4. Public roadmaps
Public roadmaps have been becoming more and more popular, but many companies are still reluctant to use them due to the fear of being accountable for everything up there. Making a promise means, however, that the team will have to deliver, incentivizing them to switch to a faster gear and become more productive.
When you weigh the pros and cons, try to dissect the customer’s perspective: they need to trust a tech company before making their business processes reliant on their product. Public roadmaps are a great way to boost transparency which is key for larger B2B, enterprise customers. If you’re not comfortable with putting everything up there, just make it a limited, highly curated version of your actual roadmap.
Still not convinced yet?
A huge advantage of public roadmaps is that they need low maintenance, they just keep running and gathering valuable product feedback in the background. Since you can only gather upvotes or comments, the depth of the feedback is fairly limited, but that shouldn’t be an issue at this stage. A deeper understanding can be supported by customer interviews.
Pro tip #6 : Whether you go for building a custom roadmap or using a roadmap tool, always opt for simplicity. Make sure visitors get what the idea is about and they can click on upvote in an instant.
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Next steps after collecting actionable product feedback
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