The Most Effective Research Tools for Gathering Customer Feedback

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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.

 

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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.

Quick surveys

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.

Robust surveys

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.

Getting started

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.

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  • Cheryl Jasper

    extremely helpful tips – thanks!

  • Joshua

    Great piece, thanks! Didn’t know about Validately, seems nice to use together with Invision or other prototype tools maybe.

    Shameless plug: our startup Klets can help you with customer feedback too. You create a beautiful ‘chat page’ that drops visitors right into a private chat with you. Tell the right people about your Klets page address (e.g. klets.com/joshua), and they can instantly message you without downloading or registering for anything. You can try it for free at https://klets.com 🙂

  • Diego

    Nice article Linda,

    Would you have some tips and suggestions on how to collect feedback more freely and on scale? I mean, My product need a scaled way to analyse and hear my customers, since we have more than 5k B2B users. We already do much of the tips you wrote when we are developing specifics features and enhancements, although I need a open channel where I can hear every one who wanna talk to me. The support channels is not being efective anymore, it is crowed.

    • Kalem

      You could use an NPS tool like Delighted? It let’s you get feedback as well as give you a basic score, plus feedback is ordered nicely and searchable. Another tool, i haven’t used much, is intercom.

    • Jenny Nunemacher

      I’ve recently heard about a product called Ramen (http://www.ramen.is) which aims to integrate customer feedback and metrics into your product. Not sure if it will work for you, but you might check it out.

  • Lisa Abbott

    Thanks for this article Linda.

    Net Promoter Score is not only an effective research tool, but It is possible to cost-effectively measure NPS and gather iterative customer feedback right in your SaaS product. In app tools, like Wootric (http://www.wootric.com) are an agile tool for product managers, and you can be up and running quickly. Higher price point and long turn-around time are no longer an impediment to measuring NPS!

  • Ashwin, Mopinion

    Interesting!

    Given that the number of customer feedback apps has exploded over the last years, the emphasis often no longer lies on collecting data but analysing the vast amounts of feedback-items generated by website visitors. Surveys are interesting for gathering detailed information about the experiences of individual visitors. But it can be difficult to make decisions based on highly subjective opinions of individual customers. For this sentiment analysis based on the feedback-items of high numbers of customers can be more useful. It really depends on what you want to do with the data.

    For those interested, here is an overview of 31 tools we reviewed:
    https://www.quora.com/What-is-your-review-of-User-Feedback-Tools

  • jameswalsh02

    Asking people for free feedback probably isn’t going to yield valuable feedback. Those ‘before you go we want to ask you..’ surveys don’t place much value on user feedback. You get what you pay for. Ask users to take some time to share their opinions and compensate them for it. Offer free or discounted services or use applications like feedbackerr.com or usabila to pay users for their opinions.

  • Stefan Kuhl

    For Dutch UI /UX designers I recommend http://www.showwwcase.nl

    Some information:

    • Feedback of every spot of your design(s)
    • Add links to make a prototype
    • Projects can have different versions. (Even switch back to a lower version)
    • You can motivate your design choises. (Shows your profile and profile picture)
    • Shows your name and company (personal tool)
    • You can use it always for free.

    Good luck!:)

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