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User Feedback: The Definitive Guide for Product Managers

August 3, 2023

Mile Zivkovic

User feedback is the most important foundation for building a great SaaS product. Here is how you can capture, analyze and use it as a product manager.

The customer is always right - as the old saying goes. But how do you know what the customer even thinks without asking them? Collecting customer feedback is one of the basics of running a good business, no matter the industry or niche.

In SaaS, collecting user feedback can make a difference between a skyrocketing MRR and a business that is bleeding customers because of churn.

Let’s find out what user feedback is, why it is important, and how to effectively measure it for your SaaS business.

What is user feedback?

User feedback is the qualitative and quantitative data gathered from your customers, where they share their opinions about your product. It is a time- and cost-effective way to gather actionable insights about your customers and your product. The end goal of collecting user feedback is to better understand your customers and solve their problems, as well as create a better product and improve retention and new user acquisition.

Why is user feedback important?

We instinctively know that listening to customer feedback helps create better products, retain existing customers, and win new business. However, there are many more underlying benefits to collecting feedback.

Improved product usage, product adoption, and stickiness. These are just some of the many product metrics that you will see increasing as you start listening to your customers and their feedback about your product.

Improved customer lifetime value (CLV). Happier customers who feel like their voice is heard stick around for longer. When you listen to their feedback and apply it, they see more value in your product and don’t need to stop using it or switch to a competitor.

Lower churn. As you meet your users’ needs and work on improving customer satisfaction, you’ll see customer churn drop over time. As you incorporate user feedback in product improvements and new feature releases, customers will stay with you instead of moving to a competitor.

Easier feature validation. You’ll no longer have to guess whether customers want to use a certain feature or if they think that an aspect of your product needs fixing. You can use feedback to validate your ideas and build your product accordingly.

Better product prioritization. As user feedback comes in qualitative and quantitative forms, you’ll get information on what feature needs to be built first and what can be put on the back burner for a few months.

In short, collecting user feedback benefits all areas of your business.

What are the different types of feedback?

There are many different ways to collect feedback, but there are just two ways to classify it.

First, there is a difference between qualitative and quantitative feedback.

Qualitative feedback is descriptive in nature and more difficult to measure. For example, customer interviews, testimonials and reviews. These feedback methods tell you a lot about customer experience but it’s complex to translate them into numbers.

Lately, however, you can use AI tools such as ChatGPT to translate qualitative data to quantitative insights quickly. For example, you could feed interview notes from customers conversations to ChatGPT and request quantitative data from the AI tool.

quantitative vs qualitative research
Source

On the other hand, there is quantitative feedback such as that coming from surveys. When customers rate their satisfaction (or some other aspect of customer experience) with a number, they give you quantitative, measurable feedback about your product. The downside is that you don’t get as many details as you would with qualitative methods.

The second method of classifying user feedback is the division between reactive and proactive feedback.

Proactive feedback is the type of feedback that you collect before a customer reaches out to you. Think NPS surveys, interviews, in-product polls and surveys, questionnaires and more.

Reactive feedback is the feedback customers give you on their own, without anyone from your company asking for it. This feedback is usually to express a strong opinion, either good or bad. Think angry reviews after something is broken on your platform, or overwhelmingly positive reviews after an “a-ha” moment.

How to collect user feedback in 6 effective ways

Nowadays, collecting feedback is easier than ever, thanks to a wide variety of tools and methods available to product managers and customer support experts. Here are some of the most effective ways to collect feedback and measure user experience.

User surveys

Product managers love surveys for many reasons. They are easy to create, they are versatile and they give quick quantitative feedback, with qualitative elements if you need them. Depending on what you want to measure, there are different survey types you can try:

  • NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys
  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) surveys
  • CES (Customer Effort Score) surveys
  • And many other survey types for specific occasions (e.g. onboarding surveys, customer churn surveys, pricing page surveys, etc.)

surveys as a form of user feedback
An example of a product survey made in Qualaroo. Source

Feedback surveys can be distributed in various formats, such as email, SMS, in-app, your website, and more. This makes them one of the most versatile and effective ways to collect feedback at scale. Speaking of which, you can run and analyze 1,000 surveys just as easily as 10.

Customer interviews

If you want deep, rich insights about a new functionality in your app, an interview will give you a wealth of information at once. As you sit down with your customers, you can ask them detailed questions about different aspects of your product experience. If something is unclear, just ask follow-up questions to discover more - which is not so easy to do with surveys, for example.

While customer interviews are extremely useful, administering them is not so simple. You’ll need to set aside time blocks for the interviews and even more importantly, talk the customers into sitting down for the interview. You’ll also need a dedicated person (or more) for running the interviews.

Last but not least, analyzing the qualitative insights from interviews is complex as someone needs to summarize them, take notes, and properly organize them.

Customer reviews

You can get actionable insights about your customers and your product by tapping into customer reviews from various platforms. Websites such as G2 and Capterra, as well as various social media platforms are great places to monitor and collect customer feedback from reviews.

About 92% of customers use reviews to guide their purchasing decisions, which is why it is smart to occasionally ask your users to leave reviews on their platform of choice.

an example of a customer review on G2.com
Source

Of course, reviews can come in from unexpected places, such as forums, blogs, social media posts and more. This is why it can be handy to use brand monitoring tools such as Brand24 - they alert you in real-time as someone mentions your product or brand.

Feature requests

When customers want a new feature, they’ll have no qualms about requesting it from you. They can do this through various channels: email, customer support calls, conversational chatbots, social media, onboarding, etc.

For product teams, feature requests (and requests for integrations) can either be a saving grace or a proper nightmare. The features that customers request do not necessarily align with the overarching product vision or product roadmap.

However, they are of massive help, because the features you are planning to build may not necessarily reflect the actual customer needs.

feature request board
An example of feature request software in FeedBear

This is why it’s important to use good feature request software (or product management software / workflow management tools) that lets you quantify and prioritize feature requests as they come in.

User experience (UX) feedback

This is one of the most important types of user feedback that tells you how easy to use your product is. Even if it does an amazing job of solving customer pain points, if your product is buggy or unintuitive, it will not get the results you desire.

You can collect UX feedback through usability tests on different platforms such as UserTesting. These let you upload a specific page or a set of pages and collect feedback from independent testers. 

Or you can do all of the work on your own with user session recording and heatmap tools such as Hotjar or Smartlook. These tools let you record user activity on your website and in your product, revealing potential bugs and negative feedback that they may not tell you about otherwise.

a heatmap in hotjar
An example of a heatmap in Hotjar

Heatmaps are another useful feature as they literally show you “heat” in the areas of your product where customers spend most of their time. If they are having trouble reaching areas of your product, those areas will show in lighter colors, which means you have some type of UX issue going on.

Of course, feedback collection for user experience can be done through other methods mentioned above, such as surveys or customer interviews.

Focus groups

Focus groups are small groups of people put together to give qualitative feedback about a new product, feature, integration or something else related to your product. Usually, this group of people is put together in the same space (physical or virtual), where you can ask them questions about how they feel about the product.

This is a superb user research tool that can provide great results, but it requires careful planning and preparation. You need to select the focus group participants so that they come from relevant demographics and they actually have a need for the product you’re selling.

And like with other qualitative feedback types, focus groups require many hands on deck. You’ll need someone to run the focus group sessions, ask open-ended questions and record them, and then analyze the respondents’ answers.

Top tips for user feedback collection

You’ve chosen the methods and tools that work the best for your product and users and now, here are some additional tips to help you get actionable feedback from your users.

Close the feedback loop

To become truly customer-centric, show your customers that you listen to what they have to say. When someone submits a piece of feedback, make sure to respond and let them know you got their message. Even more importantly, if you do something regarding the feedback (e.g. build a new feature), let them know and close the feedback loop.

how a feedback loop works
Source

Gathering useful feedback is just the start. Make sure to stay in touch with your customers and respond to product feedback promptly.

Segment your users

Not all feedback has the same weight to it. For example, an enterprise customer contributing $10,000 MRR and a single user with a $20 monthly plan will have different types of feedback. Also, you should probably pay more attention to what the enterprise customer is saying.

When collecting and analyzing user feedback, segment your users according to parameters that matter to your business. For example, customer lifetime value, MRR, industry, location and others. That way, you can analyze user behavior more accurately and make better decisions.

Mix quantitative and qualitative data

Both types of feedback have their pros and cons. Qualitative feedback is more detailed, but harder to collect. Quantitative feedback is less detailed but super easy to collect and analyze.

To make the most out of gathering user feedback, mix and match qualitative and quantitative data. That way, you’ll know the why and how behind user feedback, and you’ll also have numbers to help you make data-based decisions about your product.

Collect user feedback at all stages of the customer journey

From onboarding to trial, activation and all the way to regular use, make sure to consistently ask your users for feedback. Just because someone was initially thrilled with your product, it does not mean that they won’t have negative feedback a few months into their product use.

You might uncover that you have a bottleneck in your user journey that is easily fixed. All it takes is one feedback form to get started.

Wrapping up

User feedback should not be an afterthought. Thanks to a variety of user feedback tools available nowadays at a low cost, even SaaS businesses with a small budget can easily collect, measure and analyze user feedback.

And if you want to provide even more value to your customers from your product, give them information about their product usage. With an embedded analytics dashboard, your customers will know how your product helps solve their pain points and how it influences their lives and businesses.

Sounds like something you could use in your SaaS app? Grab your free trial today and add a customized analytics dashboard to your product experience.

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