The Most Effective Research Tools for Gathering Customer Feedback
It’s no surprise that product teams at companies large and small are increasingly emphasizing methodologies to capture customer feedback early and often. Generating feedback is critical to becoming a user-centric organization, and the chart below illustrates the overwhelmingly positive stock performance of the top 10 companies on Forrester’s Annual Customer Experience Ranking when compared to the bottom 10.
Rapid prototyping experiments may unlock user insights, but designing interactive mockups isn’t the only component product teams need to master. Survey tools are also required to distribute the prototype and capture user behavior and self-reported data. Here are the few we rely on to generate comprehensive user insights.
Schedule in-person interviews
We typically begin by generating qualitative feedback from in-person interviews. We’ll often source users in our target demographic from Craigslist or Reddit. PowWowApp makes scheduling in-person interviews a breeze. It automatically syncs with your calendar to avoid conflicts and sends your available time slots in a group message or via a public URL. Participants can reviews session details and book appointments without any need to create an account, and, once booked, both parties receive confirmation and automated reminders to avoid no-shows.
Remote user sessions
Sometimes in-person interviews aren’t feasible for any number of reasons. In these cases, we use UserTesting to conduct remote, recorded user sessions. This can be done later in the lifecycle to assess usability or earlier on to paint a competitive landscape. We’ll often use it for the latter, asking users to “Solve for [fill in the problem]” to see what they do and say.
UserTesting enables you to annotate insights as you watch and create individual, shareable clips. One thing to keep an eye out for, though, is that the target audience selection is limited so it’s possible to end up with the wrong user demographic taking your test. It’s also limited to instructions on a designated popup window so you can’t draw testers’ attention to specific areas of a website or prototype.
After generating qualitative feedback, we’ll turn to quantitative feedback to substantiate our findings. For example, if during interviews we see a consistent pattern of user behavior that suggests a new proposition could be of value, we’ll run a survey to 100 target users that introduces a basic mockup and asks a series of questions.
If you have your own standing user panel, I like Typeform because it has a sleek interface for building and taking survey. Oftentimes however, it’s convenient to use a survey tool that can also source users.
Ask Your Target Market lets you source target users, split them into separate groups, introduce design variants unique to each group, and then assess their survey responses to measure the differences in perceptions. The typically one-day turnaround is a huge win for product teams looking to iterate quickly.
While quick and easy, Ask Your Target Market lacks some of the sophistication that research tools like Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey easily account for. You’ll need to use a tool like those if you’re looking for branded surveys, advanced metrics like Net Promoter Score, or extensive analytics. The downside however is a higher price point and considerably longer turnaround times to create the survey and collect responses.
Interactive mockup surveys
As you continue to refine the user experience of a proposed solution, you’ll need a survey tool that better integrates with interactive prototypes. We use Validately to source users and ask them all the same set of questions. We then split the users into cohorts for each design variant we are testing, connect Validately with our prototypes in Invision, send a cohort to each variant, and then ask all the users a set of questions at the end.
This is the process we use to split test prototypes but that’s not all. Validately also captures user behavior while interacting with the prototypes, so we can assess usability, bottlenecks, and engagement.
If you’re looking to up your prototyping and customer feedback game, I’d recommend checking out What Product Managers Need to Know About Rapid Prototyping. The ebook is a comprehensive guide to rapidly generating user insights with frameworks, best practices, tools, and case studies.
Know a great use tip for any of these tools? Or have we missed one? Let us know in the comments.