In 2016, MindTheProduct conducted a survey to find the biggest challenges faced by Product Managers. What they found was that most Product Managers did not know if they were building the right product!
The respondents cited numerous factors influencing their responses, most notably the challenge of setting roadmaps in the absence of real market feedback. 49% of respondents said that the foremost challenge is their inability to conduct quality research to validate whether the market truly needs what they’re building.
This might seem like a surface level situation.
As we dig deeper, however, we see that this isn’t the case. Lack of valuable feedback is one of the biggest reasons for churn, even after the product is launched. 96% of users do not voice their opinion and 97% of users churn silently.
This leaves Product Managers in a pretty dismal position. Churn impacts their product growth, and lack of quality and timely feedback prevents them from structuring and improving their product features. It’s a loss from both ends.
In this article, we cover the various ways in which PM’s can gather In-app and external feedback from their users to improve overall product growth. But before we share these tactics with you all, let’s begin by looking at how quality feedback has helped a few brands better their product offerings.
Battling Churn and Leaky Buckets: How Quality Feedback Has Helped Brands
Trying to build and improve a product without consistent feedback is a futile endeavor for Product Managers. Today’s competitive market makes it critical that each team has a framework to seek and take actions based on quality feedback. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to interact with a few brands who have experienced the benefits of quality feedback, and we’re sharing their experiences with you here.
Make Better Product Decisions & Roadmaps
Building a product is a huge task, more so when you launch or add features to your product suite. Each feature request or development change requires Product Managers to identify and take on new challenges that now emerge. Without feedback, building a superior product is impossible.
Omer Molad, Co-Founder & CEO of Vervoe (an online hiring assistant) has first-hand experience with the benefits of consistent user feedback. He says that his company cannot live without it:
Lauren Davis, Product Marketing Manager at Autopilot HQ, responsible for overseeing product launches, sales, and customer enablement, echoes the growth angle associated with customer feedback and how it has played a major role in her company’s growth:
“We send user surveys and use UserVoice to help collect and prioritize the feedback we receive. We then use that feedback to prioritize our product roadmap, as well as develop content and marketing programs to make sure we’re focusing our efforts on areas of interest.”
Robert Katai, Content Strategist at Bannersnack, believes that user feedback plays a critical role in any product’s growth:
This is a key challenge faced by many during product and feature development.
“Paying close attention to our users helped us invest resources in small but precious product updates that really make a difference. For example, a lot of our users have over 1000 banners created and we only provided them a tag system that proved to be inefficient when it comes to organizing a large number of banners. A simple folder system was developed and things are working much better now. Another small but essential feature we overlooked was the possibility to upload your own fonts. Companies have specific brand guidelines and fonts play an important role in any promotional materials.
The bottom line is that if you give your users what they really need not what you think they need, you can make beautiful things happen.”
Perfecting Critical Churn Points
A product life-cycle is full of critical churn points for users. One of the most sensitive points is onboarding when users get to savor your product and understand its benefits for the first time. User feedback plays an essential role in perfecting onboarding. Sezgin Hergul, the Product Marketing Manager at GetResponse, explains their approach:
Cyfe, an all-in-one online business dashboard, uses a similar approach. The team has used feedback to forge personal connections with users, which has helped them significantly reduce churn. Ben Carpel, its CEO:
“Here at Cyfe, we do a lot of one-on-one training sessions as part of our onboarding processes. It’s been hugely valuable to us for getting real-time feedback on our platform’s UX, in real time, as people are discovering it for the first time, as guided by an expert. These sessions have even produced some great ideas for interface changes that proved to be extremely sticky over time, and we all know how important product stickiness is for growth.”
Building Long-Lasting Relationships with Customers
Every product manager’s dream is to build a tribe of users who continually help them better their product offering. Jaakko Paalanen comments on the approach used at Leadfeeder:
We offer our customers the ability to book a free 30-minute training during their onboarding process in the trial phase, as well as in the premium version of our app, so in many cases, we get to speak twice with each person from a given company that’s using our tools. This has made it possible for us to forge strong connections with our users.
Training during onboarding has increased our conversion rates to 50% among users who have these meetings with us, and thanks to the genuine relationships that we build with them, we’re able to reach out and ask for product feedback and improvements.
Churn risk for the accounts that have had this training is significantly lower than our average, and win back rates increase too. I think the key thing here is that they can book the training themselves whenever they want, so it’s up to them when to attend.
Tracey Wallace, Senior Content Manager at BigCommerce, shared an interesting use case of feedback survey with us. She collaborates with her Product team to constantly improve user relationships using their feedback:
“Talking to our customers and figuring out what is working, what isn’t and what they’d like to see has changed everything. I, for instance, interview and write out case studies, as well as work closely with our product team to make sure every single request within a case study call is addressed, fast, and that we get these folks in betas that are relevant to them ASAP. It changes our relationship 100%, meaning these brands are now willing to talk to the press, let us know when something isn’t working, let us know when something really, really is and everything in between. The same goes for our NPS usage. We survey our customers regularly, and every single comment receives a response from the correct teams. With a complex product like ours, luckily the responses can often be, “We actually already have that. Here’s where you can go to find it.” That also reminds us that we still have a long way to go to make sure new product features and add ons are seen and used by the folks who really, really need them.”
Understanding User Behavior
Good brands offer products with exceptional UX, constantly upgraded features and a lot more to its users. However, the ones that make a difference are the ones that keep a tab on the user’s behavior while doing so. Hans van Gent, Founder at Inbound Rocket explains:
Having looked at the benefits of user feedback, let’s evaluate the various ways in which Product Manager can get that valuable feedback from their users.
7 Ways In Which Product Managers Can Gather Feedback From Users
#1 Customer Feedback Surveys via Email
Customer feedback surveys are one of the best ways to encourage your customers to share what they think about your product. If executed well they can unearth deep insights about your product and the course that you need to follow to make it exceptional.
Unfortunately, customer feedback surveys have been so abused that it takes a lot of persuasions to get a user to answer those questions.
Lack of follow-up, lengthy questionnaires, and no response from businesses have conditioned most users to not respond to survey requests.
In order to get your users to answer your questions, we strongly recommend that you do the following:
- Use an efficient tool to run the survey, lest it looks like a half-hearted attempt. Survey Monkey and Typeform have excellent templates and customization options.
- Tell them why you’re asking them to do the survey. Do not approach a user for answers without explaining the context of the survey to them.
- Value the user’s time. Let the user know at the start how long it will take to complete the survey. Be honest – do not cut corners or try to fool the user.
This survey from LinkedIn, for example, took our team member a good 25 minutes to complete! Did she enjoy the experience? Absolutely not.
- Keep the questions relevant and to the point and only ask about subjects of immediate value to you. Users feel better about responding if they do not see the survey as overreaching. Longer surveys see higher drop-off.
5 Top Survey Hacks:
- Run a parallel campaign and send a personalized note to users thanking them for their participation. Then plug in a ‘forward to another user’ to increase the number of responses.
- Send surveys on a Monday if you are in a B2B business.
- Ask open-ended questions to get unabashed feedback.
- Drop in an incentive to lure your users. The feedback that comes with an Amazon voucher places value on your users’ time.
- Cross-promote the survey on your blog to gain maximum responses.
#2 Feedback Boxes
Feedback boxes are another way of understanding your user’s/prospect’s needs. This type of surveys allows visitors to answer questions while they are already on your website. Not every visitor to your website is a user, so these surveys create a massive opportunity for brands to evaluate the exact needs and features they need to build in order for them to take actions.
Qualaroo provides an exceptional framework for setting up these kinds of surveys on your website. They allow users to target customers basis traffic source, visit length, page, visit number and activity.
While these types of surveys may not be able to provide as much depth as other surveys, they still provide a lot of context for product managers.
#3 In-person Customer Interviews
In-depth, in-person interviews are your best bet when you want to dig deep and gain maximum insights from your users. Email and customer feedback surveys on the website may not be enough to provide the information that you’re looking for. In-person interviews, on the other hand, help you understand the user’s true challenges in their own words.
The team at Atlassian has developed a framework, the Customer Interview Pyramid, that consists of three stages:
- Communicate observations
- Interpret problems
- Connect opportunities
This is an example of how to put it in action:
Read more about the Customer Interview Pyramid in this post.
#4 Usability Tests
There’s nothing better than looking at your users’ actions in real time. What are they clicking on, what section of your website or dashboard excites them the most, and at what point are they dropping off? All of these actions can offer invaluable insights into the product.
Usability tests are a must as you prepare for a major haul, as they kill ambiguity and present you with clear ideas about future actions.
The team at Hotjar has a concrete action plan to recruit user testers to reveal drivers and observe barriers. The plan consists of three main steps, including setting up a recruit form, picking up a list of users, and preparing a goal to uncover barriers. For more information on why feedback is important and how it can be implemented (with examples), read about it at length in this article.
#5 Lurk in Communities
While lurking in communities may not be an ideal way of gathering feedback, it is a way to find and check your user’s needs and ascertain what features they wish your product offered to them.
Many SaaS companies, such as Hootsuite, have established communities that provide free access to such information for product teams. However, by carefully setting up a keyword alert, product marketing teams can stay abreast of what’s said about them in other forums.
#6 Social Media-Driven Feedback
‘Hang out where your users are’ is marketing gospel that we’ve all heard. And when it comes to seeking product-related feedback, this can be extremely beneficial for Product Managers.
There are two paths to garner social media-driven feedback. One is for Product Managers to run polls and ask questions seeking direct feedback from their users. The other is for Product Managers to dig deep into social mentions using a social listening tool.
#7 Qualitative Feedback From NPS Surveys
Most NPS surveys have two elements: a quantitative question that asks users to rate their overall experience on a scale of 1 to 10, and a qualitative question that asks users to elaborate on the ‘why’ behind the score. It is the qualitative answers that provide nuggets of information for Product Managers. Product teams can use this information to identify issues, fix bugs, and validate changes.
Wrapping It Up!
A good product is appreciated by all and enjoys an instant word of mouth. By taking an organized approach towards collecting, analyzing and sharing customer feedback, you can significantly improve your final product and stay ahead of your competitors.
One last tip: while product feedback is essential, not all feedback is valuable. Read here for examples of the kind of feedback that you should ignore.