Feedback is a crucial part of the product management craft. In this quick guide, we’ll provide some tips on how to gather the most effective feedback, and ways to best make use of it.
Best strategies for gathering feedback
Overall, you should always focus on quality over quantity when collating feedback. Kate Dames, Product Owner at Funficient says: “Quality feedback is the fastest feedback. When you are clear on what you want to learn you are more able to gather meaningful answers and at a faster rate.” Here are some of the most effective strategies that product managers can use to get the best results:
Regular 1-1 customer interviews
These are easy to organise and you’re likely to receive high-quality authentic feedback. You’ll increase your chances of customer participation if you provide incentives such as a voucher or payment after completion. Work with your customer success team to get slots booked each week with your customers.
One-off and NPS surveys can be quick ways for customers to answer your feedback requests at a high volume. You’re more likely to have answers to the right questions if these surveys are kept short and sharp. Typeform is an excellent tool for intuitive out-of-the-box surveys.
Building relationships with customers through customer success and sales teams is a quick way to hear about early issues and opportunities. Once you have a pool of contacts, it is straightforward to book a call and have detailed conversations about your new product or feature.
Product behaviour metrics
Data is a useful tool for receiving instant feedback on how a product is performing. Kate advises getting a near-live view of product metrics by using a tool like Google analytics or Oracle Analytics Cloud that will indicate where you need to go looking for feedback.
Once you’ve chosen a feedback strategy, Sarah Constant, Head of Product at Student Finance, advises breaking it down into short insights. She says: ”A user interview can be an essay of notes and a recorded video. Try to break it down into a favourite quote and five key insights to share with the product team.”
The quality of the feedback you receive is based on the quality of questions you ask. “Rather than sending out a generic questionnaire to thousands of users and potential users, focus your effort to ask more specific questions to your users,” Sarah says.
Who to lean on for help in your organisation
Kate believes that ideally, all teams should be involved in collating feedback on a product. “It’s important to have as many people as possible included in the feedback process to gain different perspectives,” she says.
“Each person in an organisation has different skills. For example, one person in the Customer Support team might specialise in data analysis and payment related queries, while another might specialise in security questions,” Kate explains. The product manager who collates feedback should be aware of the different expertise of each team. It is their role to include those who can best provide valuable input into a decision.
Sarah believes that “you should always be re-evaluating who this set is and what value they bring to the research process”. Ask these questions to find out who to lean on for assistance:
- Who is the person in the organisation who is most knowledgeable about product accessibility?
- Who has access to many different types of customers and can identify patterns?
- Who can provide input into sustainability-related questions?
- Who can you include to simplify complexity and translate complex ideas into an easy to use question-based interface?
Additionally, you can use the product vision and values to decide who should be included in the feedback journey. For example, if your values are accessibility, flexibility, sustainability, and ease-of-use, use this as a checklist to ensure you include at least someone who will represent each of these values.
Building effective customer feedback loops
If a user participates in a study, they should be left in the loop. “They [customers who provide feedback] shouldn’t be left wondering when they will get feedback on the feedback they submitted. This is one of the many reasons why building effective customer feedback loops by relaying information back to the user is important,” Kate explains.
Discuss conclusions from feedback with your users and communicate the changes that you intend to make in light of your discoveries, says Dean Guida, Founder of Slingshot and CEO of Infragistics. It’s important to go back to the same customers with updates and new discoveries. Keep them in the loop to engage them in your product and maintain their trust that their feedback is being addressed.
Kate advises that receiving quarterly feedback based on your product is a good rule of thumb with feedback loops. “You can also include periodic usability workshops as part of your design process for a percentage of users throughout the product lifecycle to have real-time feedback,” she says.
Ideally, a product team should create multiple continuous channels for collecting feedback. Think about which customer lifecycle moments are most interesting, is it as soon as a customer onboards? Or after a certain amount of time using the product? Set up the following feedback methods to get a constant stream of feedback from multiple channels. “Be clear on what you want to learn to make feedback loops easy to make,” says Sarah.
Using your feedback
To make the best use of customer feedback, Sarah advises collecting all of it into a folder or accessible spot in the office where the whole team can see captured ideas. This can be leveraged during future roadmap priority discussions. Storytelling and diagrams are imperative to present this to the wider team in a digestible way.
Once you have all of the feedback that you need, build a hypothesis and test it again by collating more feedback, Dean adds, “you can make the feedback and data tell any story that you want. Align with your teams first to remove all of the bias teams may have about the feedback collated.”
As themes start to emerge, translate feedback into a product initiative—outline the feedback themes, the hypothesis about how to make an impact, and the potential ways to test the hypotheses. Discuss across the team and refine into epics/user stories with a clear way to measure success. A product initiative is only complete when the success has been measured.