We talk about the methods we use in our business to keep an eye on exactly what new features and fixes our customers are most interested in.
They say the customer is always right...
While that might not always be the case, it's always good to have a way for your customers to talk to you, and to be constantly asking them how you can improve. The people who use your product the most are often the most vocal, and providing customers with a way to talk to you about features and updates they need can provide you with an edge over the competition as well as helping guide your roadmap and development.
However, asking for feedback can be a double-edged sword. You need to gather it at the right time, and from the right people, and using the right method for it to be the most helpful. With so many different ways to gather feedback, we thought we'd list our three favorites that we use when working on SaaS products.
Surveys are the most traditional method of gathering feedback; we've been using them for thousands of years. They're great for long-form feedback as it's easy to segment users, and distribution and creation can be handled by a wide variety of tools from Survey Monkey to a simple Google form.
A problem with surveys can occur usually due to their size. It's easy to overwhelm users with too many questions, but it's also easy to be asking the wrong questions entirely. A survey can lead you to ask leading questions or generating complicated matrices that can end up confusing your customers and spoiling your results. It's easy to get greedy with data!
A survey can also run the risk of asking questions that are simply too broad. Open-ended questions can be helpful, but it's very difficult to collate qualitative survey data into a usable form. For this reason, it's better to stick to questions that can be answered on a number scale, or simple A/B questions. It's important to try and be as unbiased as possible in the way you ask the questions, so it's always wise to get your survey checked by multiple people with no stake in the results before sending one out.
Remember, you answers will only be as good as your questions! Make sure each one has a purpose and is something that learning the answer too will actually be helpful.
Another option with surveys is on-site surveys that appear directly on your page. While these can easily be annoying, they can work in some situations providing they are very, very short. Usually a one or two-question maximum, and the questions should be directly related to the area of the site the users is on.
User testing tools can be helpful on the exact opposite end of the spectrum as a survey. Instead of trying to gather large amounts of data to inform top-level decisions, user testing websites like UserVoice are often at their most useful when you're presenting users with a more detailed choice and asking a single question, like if they prefer A or B design, or if they can understand what your website does from a quick glance.
To get the most out of this sort of user testing, you often have to already have multiple designs mocked up, so it may be more useful further down the line than the other solutions we've listed here, but it can be very helpful in the right situations. Or, like us, you can use it to tie-break company design arguments!
One thing to keep in mind about these services is that with all the demographic grouping and segmenting in the world means you're still going to be talking to a very broad range of people.
This can be helpful for some questions but less helpful for others; the more specific you get about your product the less useful the answers from random internet users are going to be, and this is doubly true if you're offering a niche product. Ultimately, the people answering these questions may not be the audience you are looking for.
A user suggestion tool like ChangeCrab is slightly different from the other options here as it acts as a more passive but more permanent tool for gathering feedback. ChangeCrab is a user suggestion and feedback tool that lets users submit suggestions and vote on suggestions from others.
It's a page that's always available on your site, and that stup has several advantages. Firstly, it lets you discover problems (and potential solutions) that you didn't even know existed. When you have to write the questions for your survey or user testing campaign, you could easily be completely missing the point by not asking questions that your users need answering in the first place. That problem is solved when your users are coming to you directly.
Secondly, the people answering and submitting suggestions will always be your most engaged users. You don't have to worry about finding the right demographic because anyone willing to visit your suggestion page and make a suggestion without being asked is likely to be heavily invested in your product already.
Some user feedback tools may leave themselves open to abuse and spam, but ChangeCrab offers guest posting and post-approval on all user feedback suggestions as optional features, all available free.
Whether you're setting up a ChangeCrab account or getting ready to send out a yearly survey, the most important part of feedback is actually listening to it. Acting on feedback, and selecting which feedback and suggestions are most important can be the difference between a good company and an amazing one, and being seen as actively supporting user suggestions can give you a significant edge over your competitors.