The Power of User Feedback in Product Developmentby@moscowgt
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19,487 reads

The Power of User Feedback in Product Development

by Denis EdemskiyApril 24th, 2024
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Conducting surveys throughout the product life cycle is essential to keep track of your position in the market relative to your competitors. By consistently using both direct and indirect feedback methods throughout the product development lifecycle, you can generate insightful analyses of user experiences and gain a comprehensive understanding of the needs, preferences, and behaviors of your clients, resulting in more successful and user-centric solutions. Direct feedback is a solicited and guided reaction from a user. It includes Product Market Fit feedback, Market Research Feedback, Net Promoter Score (NPS), Product CSAT, Product CES, Product Feature Feedback, Product Strengths and Weaknesses Feedback, Marketing Attribution, and Bug Reports. Indirect feedback is gained by tracking user behaviour and interactions with a product or service and includes interactions with customer service, social media, analytics tools data, and A/B testing.
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Today, a successful IT product is one that has been developed with customers' needs, interests, and values in mind. This is why customer feedback is so important if we want to improve customer satisfaction and retention, and ultimately ensure the long-term growth of a business.

Collecting user feedback is the foundation of the growth of every product. Since it’s a widely-known fact, many teams still underestimate the importance of it, giving priority to feature or product updates. In this article, I am highlighting different types of customer feedback and top channels for capturing feedback that digital product teams can use to create a product that best meets users' needs.

Spoiler: there is much more than customer surveys and CustDev interviews.

Product Feedback Types

Direct Feedback

It is a solicited and guided reaction from a user. A business deliberately reaches out to customers through various channels: surveys, emails, website popups, and feedback buttons. Direct feedback has the advantage of giving more control over the content and the form of the information solicited. The importance of posing the right question to get the right answer is difficult to overestimate.

  1. In a user-centric approach, Product Market Fit is a starting point for a product as a whole. This metric is useful to test hypotheses about your product value and market positioning at an early stage. For example, this type of feedback is essential when developing Minimum Viable Products (MVPs).

    Product Market Fit feedback helps you to understand whether your product meets customer and market needs. To find out if this is the case, ask users how useful they find your product and whether it solves their problems. To improve the market positioning, ask questions such as how customers would feel if the product becomes unavailable, and how the product compares to competitors in their opinion.

  2. Market Research Feedback. “Market research is the process of evaluating the viability of a new service or product through research conducted directly with potential customers” -  Investopedia says. This can be done through surveys. To conduct this research, a company can ask target audiences what they think about the product, brand, value for money, competitors, etc.

    By gathering this feedback, product teams can get insights about the market -  in particular, its size, supply and demand, and pricing. Finally, this information is used to determine the market positioning strategy for a new product.

  3. The next metric based on feedback is Net Promoter Score (NPS). This score indicates customer loyalty and satisfaction with a product or a company. It is calculated based on one specific question posed to users: "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/company to a friend or colleague?” You can also ask about the reason behind the score if needed.

    The survey is usually conducted right after a purchase, product update, or specific events to capture customers' fresh impressions. It can improve user activation rates and increase positive word-of-mouth referrals.

  4. Product CSAT stands for “customer satisfaction score” and is generally used to measure the overall satisfaction of users with the product and identify challenges that may be hindering product growth. A CSAT survey prompts the user to evaluate their experience on a seven-rating scale and can be configured to collect feature-specific feedback.

    This feedback helps in understanding user experiences, prioritizing and resolving issues, and improving overall product satisfaction. It's useful when evaluating new features or updates, during the onboarding process, and to assess customer support interactions. Typical questions in a Product CSAT survey include overall satisfaction, satisfaction with specific features, meeting expectations, and ease of use.

    The best practice is to request this feedback on an annual or half-year basis.

  5. Product CES(Customer Effort Score) is a metric that measures a customer's perceived effort when using your product or service. In this survey, customers are invited to rate their efforts on a 1-7 rating scale.

    The data obtained through CES provides businesses with valuable information on what prevents users from having a perfect experience with your product. CES feedback helps to improve usability by identifying bottlenecks and malfunctioning. It can be used either with a specific feature or with a product as a whole.

    Typical CES survey questions inquire about ease of product use, navigation, and satisfaction with customer support.

  6. Product Feature Feedback and Feature Request and Prioritization. These surveys focus on specific features of your product. They help you understand how features are perceived, prioritize feature development, and allocate resources effectively. You can request this feedback at the product development, beta testing, and post-launch stages. Areas of interest in these surveys include frequency of use of features, alignment with user needs, problems encountered, and suggestions for missing features.

  7. Product Strengths and Weaknesses Feedback is often conducted through a product SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

    As the name suggests, companies use this survey to assess the strengths and areas for improvement of their products in order to improve their competitive position. Typical survey questions enquire about the user's likes and dislikes regarding a product, its overall quality rating, areas for improvement, problems encountered, and the product's advantages over competitors.

    This feedback is essential in helping to make final adjustments before a product is launched, in capturing the user experience after a product has been launched, during updates or upgrades to assess changes, and for competitive analysis.

  8. Marketing Attribution. This type of feedback is designed to gather information about traffic sources and help identify effective marketing channels that generate more leads. You can optimize budget allocation by knowing which marketing efforts are bringing in more customers. Question to ask: How did you hear about us?

  9. Bug Reports. You can invite users and internal staff to help you improve your product by reporting bugs they encounter while using your product. To enable them to do this, include a bug reporting form in your application.

    Allow a user to inform your development team every time they encounter an error, glitch, crash, security vulnerability, functionality failure, or other unusual behavior. To encourage user cooperation, make sure the bug report is easy to fill out. Your QA or development team will thank you if you configure the bug report to include the date and time the problem occurred and collect any files or logs of the problem.

To make the user experience with your surveys smooth and easy, keep survey questions simple and concise. It's also a good idea to supplement quantitative questions with open-ended, qualitative questions. Open-ended questions provide context for closed-ended questions while free-text feedback gives your customers space to share their views.

However, keep in mind that surveys are prone to human error and bias due to their reliance on self-reporting. Therefore, It’s important to use indirect feedback methods to ensure impartiality.

Indirect Feedback Methods

Indirect feedback, also known as unsolicited feedback. In this case, a company collects data without an overt request by tracking user behavior and interactions with a product or service, or by analyzing product/brand-related communications on internal or external platforms.

  1. Interactions with customer service. By analyzing customer service interactions with clients, you can gain valuable insights into the typical problems encountered by users and areas for improvement. This can be achieved by examining channels such as chat, email, and phone calls to understand the customer experience with your product and service. Customer service automation tools can be helpful in identifying patterns in customer service tickets and bug reports.

  1. Social media. The power of this method is that it gives you access to users’ opinions expressed in an unstructured and unguided way. By tracking what is being said about your product on social media, you can hear the real voice of your customer. It is a qualitative feedback that is worth combining with the quantitative. You may want to use parse and analytics tools to find and make sense of conversations about your product on social media.

  1. Analytics tools. Tools such as Google Analytics or Amplitude give you quantitative data about user behavior. It monitors their interactions with the product or website, including the number of sessions, user flow, bounce rate, button clicks, conversion events, session length, etc. You can get a better understanding of your customers by analyzing which pages or features they spend more time on or where they leave the product.

    The heatmaps show patterns of user engagement and points of friction in the user's experience with your interface. It tracks movement, rage clicks, and scrolling. Such tools will help you improve the user experience and increase conversions by eliminating the friction and frustration that cause users’ churn.

  2. A/B Testing. A/B testing refers to a method in which two versions of a web page/product/feature are compared to find out which one works better. The mechanics are simple: the original version of an app (referred to as control or A) is displayed to half of your users, while the updated version (referred to as variation or B) is presented to the other half. Next, the data obtained in the study is analyzed to determine which variant performs better for a certain conversion aim.

    This method allows a business to make data-driven decisions, whether it is as small as changing a button or as large as completely redesigning a website.

In general, direct feedback from surveys or interviews is mostly relevant through brainstorming and testing stages, while indirect feedback from user analytics may be more helpful during the development and post-launch phases.

However, it is important to combine direct and indirect feedback to get a full picture of how your product (or feature) is perceived by users. In direct feedback, customers may not always identify their issues correctly, while indirect feedback lacks context, explicit reasoning, and follow-up questions.

Top Channels to Capture Product Feedback

To gain a deep understanding of your clients and their experience with your product, it’s important to implement an omnichannel approach to feedback gathering. Furthermore, the more seamless and easy it will be for clients to share their experiences with you, the more willing they will be to do so. In other words, it is advisable to capture clients' input across a wide range of channels without them having to switch to another platform.

  1. In-app feedback surveys and ratings. This is an in-app feedback tool that allows product teams to gather feedback from users about their experience with the app as they use it. It can be done by sending customer satisfaction prompts, asking for a review, or inviting them to share feature request feedback.

    The advantage of this channel is that it instantly captures feedback, so a user can share their most recent impressions. Another benefit is that it enables you to capture feedback about specific events. For example, if a survey pops up when a user is about to cancel their subscription, it is likely that they will let you know the reasons for the cancellation.

  1. App Store Feedback Request Survey. These ratings and reviews appear on an app's product page and in search results. They help other users decide whether to try your app. Soliciting this type of input is essential to increasing your app's discoverability and downloads.

  2. Ratings and Reviews. A Product Review Request is a request that invites users to share their opinion on a product on external platforms. It’s a great way to increase the visibility of your product and generate more leads. It may be beneficial to monitor review sites such as Capterra, G2, Trustpilot, and TrustRadius for product reviews. These sources can provide insights into competitor analysis, allowing for timely adjustments to marketing and product strategy.

  3. CustDev interview. The CustDev interview is a qualitative analysis tool that can be used throughout the product life cycle. When used at the ideation stage, it allows you to identify unmet needs and provide innovative business ideas to meet them. By ensuring from the outset that your product meets user expectations, you are laying a solid foundation for future growth.

    It can also be used at the early stage to test your MVP and validate that customers are willing to pay the price you have set for the product. Finally, if you want to improve your product, a CustDev interview can provide you with possible scenarios for product future development.

    The purpose of the CustDev interview is to identify potential audience issues, assess the market for solutions, evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of these solutions, gauge audience reaction to existing products, and identify avenues for improvement.

  4. Emails. Email surveys are considered less effective than online or in-app surveys because they have very low response rates. However, they remain one of the most common ways to gather feedback.

Conducting surveys throughout the product life cycle is essential to keep track of where you are in the market compared to your competitors.

By consistently using both direct and indirect feedback methods throughout the product development lifecycle, you can generate an insightful analysis of the user experience and gain a comprehensive view of the needs, preferences, and behaviors of your client, resulting in more successful and user-centric solutions.