You just spent the last 3 months building a product that solves a problem you encountered. All the spent your time working hard, putting in long hours, setting up a website, even getting all your social media accounts setup. It is likely youu might have even put together a marketing plan, starting blogging, and got a small email list.
With all this hard work done, you are likely starting to see sales. But are you getting the growth you thought you’d get? Have you thought about how you can increase your sales? Do you know what you your customers think of the product? Take some time before you continue building your product and consider getting some customer feedback.
One of the most valuable things you can do for your product or business is to spend time getting customer feedback. What’s great about building digital products (and most of us are building these now) is that we can take the feedback we get from customers and iterate on our products, giving them to our customers for free. In fact, if you are continually adding value to what you provide your customers, they are far more likely to buy from you again.
You can get customer feedback in a multitude of ways. While there are lots of ways to get feedback, here are 5 ways I get customer feedback.
- Feedback boxes
- Reaching out directly
- User activity
- Usability Tests
One of the most common and easiest ways to get feedback from your customers is by sending out surveys. Think about it. They are easy to setup. Easy to send out. Easy to Analyze. And they scale really really well. I suppose that’s why many people think of survey’s as the bread and butter for getting feedback.
When I’m going to use a survey to gather customer feedback, I look at them at two angles: long surveys and short surveys.
Long Surveys are what most of us are familiar with so let’s cover these first. Long surveys are what we are most familiar with. You go into a tool like Survey Monkey where you create all sorts of questions and then you send out a link to your customer list and anyone that uses your product.
Then you give it a few days, check back on your survey and have all sorts of feedback. Hopefully.
If you have ever sent out a long survey but didn’t get a lot of responses, there’s a few reasons why.
How many questions did you send? I know what you are thinking. You spent time working on this awesome survey, asking all sorts of questions. But what likely happened, is that you asked too many questions.
When building a long survey and sending it out, you need to keep it a little short. I have a rule of 5 questions in your survey. There are some reasons that would not be enough, so definitely at all costs keep your survey to no more than 10 questions.
By doing this, you are allowing your customers to feel empowered to fill out your survey and increase your chances into getting the feedback you want.
Did you ask questions you won’t use? Chances are when you started creating your survey, you started asking questions you wanted the answers to. But let’s think about it for a moment. Are all the questions that you are asking going to get movement on? Are you going to do something with those questions? If not, then don’t ask. Here’s why.
Group customers into segments. When you group your customers into segments, or at least divide your list so you have multiple survey lists, you are able to send out surveys more often. Allowing you to get more feedback throughout the year. And that makes sense, right? If you sent out a survey multiple times a year to your entire customer list, chances are they are going to get tired of getting surveys and not fill them out.
That’s why when you are sending out surveys, it is important to be considerate of sending your customers emails. I typically recommend that if you group your customers into 4 groups, you have the ability to send out 4 surveys a year.
Finally, if you want to increase feedback from your customers consider starting with open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow your customers the freedom to think through the feedback they are giving you. If you use questions that aren’t open-ended, for example questions where you use radio buttons to choose an answer, you don’t constrain them to what you are thinking.
With this feedback in hand you can start to analyze and determine how to continue to develop your product with future iterations.
The second angle for surveys is using short surveys. If long surveys are good for emailing out to your customers, then short surveys are great for getting feedback from your website visitors. With short surveys you are able to get near instance feedback from your website visitors based on that page or piece of content you have the survey show up on.
But what makes a survey short?
Well a short survey is a single question. For example, if you were testing new marketing message you could ask a simple question like, “Do you have any questions before starting a trial?” You can collect answers to this question over a period of time and use that feedback to change your messaging on the page or provide more information to help increase your conversions on the page.
Either type of survey is going to start giving you feedback from your customers. And at the end of the day what is most important is that you are using surveys to get feedback from your customers.
Another way to get feedback from your customers or even your site visitors is to provide ways for them to give feedback on their time. What do I mean by that? Well, how many times have you seen something like this.
These are what I call feedback boxes. Believe it or not, but customers are constantly thinking about ways they can help make your business or product better. Think of it this way.
Have you ever used Facebook only to want to provide them with feedback about the timeline?
If there’s a feedback box on the page, you’re likely to send them feedback
More often than not, your customers aren’t going to reach out to your support team when this happens. They only reach out when serious issues arise. But those minor annoyances and issues, your customers will just give up and walk away frustrated. I know I have when Facebook’s timeline stopped
What do you do when the feedback starts coming in?
If a user is asking for a feature that you are about to release, offer to give them early access in return for more feedback from them. This works really well when you are running a WP theme or plugin as your product. You can give them a copy of your latest internal testing version and ask them for feedback.
If a user is sending bugs or technical issues, make sure you connect them directly with your support team. This is important to note because sometimes your customers are in panic mode and the first way they find to contact you, they are going to contact you. If it’s something that your support team needs to address, make sure you get it right over to them, to help out your customer.
Sometimes you may have a customer that asks you how to do something. If you happen to give them step-by-step instructions on how to use a different feature in your product to achieve the same results, make sure you add it to your support documentation. Chances are there are more customers that have trouble needing this content.
Feedback boxes is a great way to get feedback regularly from your customers and visitors. Make sure that you are collecting this feedback and you have a way to help them know it’s been collected. It doesn’t always have to be responded to, but if you add an autoresponder in the form, you will at least let them know it was received.
Reach Out Directly
One of my all time favorites is simply reaching out to customers. It’s also one of the most undervalued. Because after all, if you really truly want to understand somebody, you really need to go talk to them. And in a world where we are all used to receiving surveys, we miss out on all sorts of contextual information.
Think about it this way. What happens if your customers say they need more time or money? Do you know which one they are really passionate about? Which one truly keeps them up at night? When you get these types of answers in written responses, you have to follow up. What you don’t get with written responses is you don’t get to hear the passion in their voice as they talk about the problems.
Reaching out to customers gives you a chance to dig deeper. For instances let’s say you run a SaaS business that helps freelancers send invoices to their clients. And recently, you’ve been receiving feedback that your customers would like to add the ability to break down the invoice to include line items.
There are several possible reasons why they might want to do this:
- They want to not just include a total, but break down each area or piece that a client is being charged for.
- Maybe their clients need line items.
- Or maybe they just want to have the invoice look better.
Each of these reasons requires a solution. Sometimes it might be an entirely different solution. See if you don’t reach out and talk to your customers, you’ll never learn what’s really going on. You’ll be trying to fix the symptom instead of the real problem.
So how do you reach out to customers?
Well the good thing is that if you have sales, you’re going to have some contact information. There’s a couple of options you can use when talking with customers.
You can meet with them virtually, through Skype, Google Hangouts/Meet, or even Zoom. This is a great way to meet with your customers. You could plan out a couple of days worth of video calls and you’ll get a lot of information out of it.
I’m not saying that you have to go visit your customers in person, though I will say that you’ll get major bonus points if you do. What I’m saying is look through your customer list and see if anyone is local. Maybe they are local to a conference you are attending or speaking at. You could easily sponsor a meetup and buy some pizza and drinks for any one of your customers in the area to come and meet up.
You will be surprised by how much value you get from the time spent with your customers then what you get from hundreds of customer surveys.
Taking time to speak with your customers directly instead of using some of the other various forms is incredibly helpful in really getting to understand your customers problems. I don’t use this option often enough, and it’s one I would like to change in the future.
Most websites have some sort of analytics tracking tool that collects data so you can use to learn about your customers. Depending on the digital products you are selling, you may even be able to build in analytics data into your product to allow you to learn how customers use your product.
What’s the big deal though? Why is it useful?
By looking through activity of individuals, it’s much easier to identify the reason why certain outcomes occur. You may even notice trends.
With this kind of data at your fingertips, you’re able to see what is providing your customers with value and what isn’t. And since we typically will have their email or some sort of identifying source of email, we can follow up and use some of our other feedback methods to dive deeper into trying to understand why they didn’t think a feature was valuable, or where they were getting hung up.
We can reach out directly to these individuals or when you notice a trend, you could group them together and email them a custom survey looking to further your understanding of why this group of customers are struggling to use your product.
If you are a designer or have a background in User Experience, this probably isn’t something new. But what if you could watch someone while they use your product or website? You could see what features or sections they are drawn to, what catches their eye, and where they get confused. This type of information is invaluable.
For a long time it took thousands of dollars and user experience practitioners to be able to pull this type of research off. These days, the cost has become very reasonable with services that are out there. In fact, some of these services allow you to define a task that you want someone to complete, have a random person do it, and get a recording of the entire process.
Usability testing services are really great for new web apps or account creations. For example, if you built a new sign up process or you’re about to make a large change to your cart process, it’s a good time to run some usability tests and watch how people go through those flows. You can highlight where your assumptions were wrong and where you need to further improve before you start sending all of your traffic there.
If you are building a website or web app, definitely check out usertesting.com. It offers tests at $39 per person. A few of these will pay you back leaps and bounds by showing you where your biggest problems are.
If you are bootstrapping your customer feedback though, you may want to look at another way. You could work with a local coffee shop and offer to buy someone a coffee for some quick feedback. You could set up a computer if you wanted to run full usability tests. I’ve even done something as offered to show a couple of different mockups, telling my participants the goal of the mockup. I can then ask them a couple of questions and record their feedback.
The bottom line is that when you collect feedback from your customers consistently, you’ll know if you’re building your business, your product in the right direction. Experiment with these methods and find the right combination for you and your business.
As soon as you find a process for collecting high-quality feedback from your customers on a regular basis, make it a standard practice.
Collecting Customer Feedback
Building a product and marketing it are only parts of the puzzle. You still need to grow your business and your product offering. By collecting customer feedback, you are able to know what your customer likes and dislikes about your product. You are able to make better, more informed decisions on the direction of your product and business.