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How Important is It to Take User Feedback (Also 11 Ultimate Hacks on How to Take it)

Profile photo of Ajit Singh Submitted by Ajit Singh April 8, 2016

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User feedback is by far the most underrated method employed by businesses to improve their product’s user experience. Why would a company want to know what its user thinks about its product is same as to why the manager in a restaurant wants to know about the food.

It’s simple. The number of digits in your revenue figure is characterized by how better your user’s experience is while using your product.

But most SaaS companies despite being fully aware of this totally obvious thing, often miss out on taking user feedback, or give it the same amount of importance as much as Nicki Minaj gives importance to music in her music videos. I am reminded of the two cases wherein user feedback has decided the fate of millions of dollars.

Case A: Startup raised whopping $41 million before launch. Users didn’t like the product post launch. Shut in less than two years

A San Francisco-based startup going by the name of Color was able to secure $41 million dollars even before they had purchased the domain name, let alone before releasing the beta version of the product, which was an app.

With the money, they built one of the fanciest offices in the valley with skateboard rings and stuff, hired the team of developers whose salary was equivalent to the first round of any Bangalore based startup, and even managed to purchase the domain name- color.com and its English twin colour.com for $500,000. And before you could fit all these absurdities in your head, the company was already runningadvertisements on Saturday Night Live.

And they all did this without even once asking their target audience- “Hey folks, what they think about their product.”

Upon its release, only their employees turned out to be the active users of the app or perhaps just the QA guys.

Case B: E-commerce company listened to its users and changed a button on its form. Result: revenue jumped by $300 million

So the problem was that as soon as the user filled their cart and hit the checkout button, they used to encounter a form before they could make the payment. Now, the form was simple. It had ‘Email’ and ‘Password’ fields plus ‘login’ button for repeat visitors and ‘Register’ for the first timers.

The intention was to make the purchase faster for repeat visitors. But it turned out that both their new and repeat visitors hated the idea of registering or signing in. The company tweaked the form and realized that this form was the only hurdle between them and $300 million.

The answer to “what the heck did they do with the form” I am copying directly from the source.

The designers fixed the problem simply. They took away the Register button. In its place, they put a Continue button with a simple message: “You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.”

Well, the above two examples were not meant for validating the importance of user feedback. We totally acknowledge how intrinsic feedback is for any product company or anybody per se. What I am stressing on here is that how easy is to ignore taking feedback and thereby land in 100 feet below deep shit.

Hacks and resources to take feedback the right way

In this post, I am going to highlight some of the hacks and resources to take feedback from your users. Check them out and share your thoughts in the comments if you disagree with any of them:

1. Coffee and Sandwich

Go to the nearest coffee parlor and make acquaintance with someone who mostly fits your description of the target audience. Buy him a coffee and sandwich and once the guards are down, politely request him to “take the brunt of checking out this new thing that you are blah blah blah.” Keep the screen recorder on and ask them to accomplish some of the tasks on the product.

coffee

Places like the coffee parlor, spa, parks are the ideal places to seek feedback because these are a few places where people are most relaxed, both mentally and physically, and in the state to give you their time and piece of mind.

Once they are done, get the answers to the questions that you deem fitting and critical to your product experience and analyze their behavior from screen record. Repeat the exact process on someone else and continue doing this as long as you eavesdrop people calling you creep.

2. Usability testing tools

Wondering what Usability testing means? Here Wikipedia answers it for you

“Usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users. This can be seen as an irreplaceable usability practice since it gives direct input on how real users use the system.”

If you are pretending to understand it, you are not alone. Basically, user testing is a method to understand the usability of a product by making a real user use it and record their experience.

This is one of the best examples of usability test- rated 5 stars by a usability testing tool, usertesting.com.

And there is a lot of tools on the Internet which let you do it. Here is a blog that has listed most of them.

Essentially, it is an amplified and sophisticated version of ‘coffee and sandwich’ method and makes a lot of sense if you are launching a brand new product.

These tools can work excellently if you are in the beta stage or require your product to be tested by a user having a particular persona.

3. Heatmap tool

Heatmap tool is the excellent medium to figure out what exactly your users are doing on your website. It essentially creates a report like the one below:

heatmap-crazyegg

Image Source

Where they are clicking, how they are scrolling, which part of the page they are ignoring and which part are they loving the most. As in, which elements of the website are being clicked and which are the ones being ignored.

Heatmap gives you an incredible insight into the performance of your website and where it could be improved.

4. Regular product updates direct from the CEO

In 2013, Prime Minister of Norway had pulled out a stunt in which he disguised as a taxi driver and gave rides to the fellow citizen in a bid to know their real, non-sugarcoated feedback. Naturally, it became an instant hit with people across the globe, who started comparing him with their own leaders, who make their people disinfect their hands with sulfuric acid before they shake hand.

And there could be multiple such examples- Superdude Richard Branson serving guests in his airline and Flipkart’s founders doing delivery are a few of them. The point is, direct communication with the highest authority apart from increasing the trust quotient also encourages users to share their real feedback.

There is something that we used to do in the previous startup which I was part of. We, as a part of our communication strategy, regularly used to push email to clients, from the CEO, informing them about the new product updates relevant to them.

The mail used to an informal plain text message with the high level of personalization and totally devoid of any jargon or White Paper-ish language. To further personalize the email we had created an alternate email ID of CEO which we used to put in the ‘from’ section.

The mail used to have an incredible response rate from users who used to share thoughts on the update. The unique open rate used to go as high as 75-80% and the alternate email account where the responses were recorded used to be the power bank of valuable user feedback.

5. There is a subreddit group to validate your design

Visit this very popular subreddit group where you can get feedback from influencers and guys-who-know-stuff-about-design about your product design.

https://www.reddit.com/r/design_critiques/

This is technically free and apparently requires the least effort of all.

6. Get listed on review sites and directories

Jot down all the relevant portals and directories like Quora, Yelp, Google Business, Yahoo, every possible portal or website where you think your users have the option to review and rate you.

review_image

However, it is not that effective as the users mostly search these portals when they have the intention to bash you. To make it effective, encourage users with good experience share their feedback on these portals and make it part of your communication flow.

We had made “Share your review” mail as the part of the automated emails that used to be automatically pushed to client’s inbox after he enters the third month of using the product. Since the negative reviews are going to be spontaneous, the final aggregated list will be fairly balanced, which online users tend to trust more.

7. Create Feature request forums

Although, it’s important to acknowledge the feature request of every user, naturally the priority is going to depend on which feedback has the most requirement among your users.

feature-request

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Feature request forum creates a transparent setting wherein users would be able to post their requests, existing users would be able to know the product related concerns of other users. And, with the ability to like and comment, you would be able to know that which feature has the maximum requirement among your user base.

It is like building a community for your users. Again, this is something that we happen to create in my previous startup and results were overwhelming for the reasons that I have stated.

Freshdesk sets a benchmark for feature request forum and it also offers a product to create a forum that is equally good at the same time.

8. Exit Intent survey on the checkout page

When your user is present on the checkout page, we can at least assume, that the probability of your user making the purchase is same as the probability of Sarah Palin making a stupid comment.

As in, the probability of them purchasing is very high, but if they chose to leave, you would want to know “why”.

survey

It’s very interesting to know what caused the trigger to leave at the last moment. Most of the reasons are going to be obvious ones like ‘I changed my mind’ or ‘I can’t find my card’ etc. which can be used as options. But, you could give them the option to write their problem which will give you terrific insight on the pain points of users.

9. Blog posts

More than a good practice, it is conventional for every business to have their own blog channel. If you don’t have one it yet, then you are a Mexican Wolf. As in, just like Mexican Wolf, guys like you are also very few except that nobody cares about you.

Search Google for the million reasons to create your own blog channel. Once you do it you would acknowledge it can also be one of the best mediums to get the feedback from your users.

You are releasing a new update, go type it all about it and post it with the heading like “So guys, what do you say?”. Your users would share their feedback about the update through comments and direct emails.

Anything new that you do, you could treat your blog channel as a bulletin board and seek feedback from your users.

10. Feedback widget

Installing a feedback widget on the website is like creating a Facebook page of Donald Trump which will give everyone who comes across it the urge to post something.

The only difference is that in your case you would still have some probability of hearing something non-abusive.

feedback

The point is, the feedback widget creates an open window for your users, which triggers them to share anything they like. And it is totally harmless to install as it occupies a very limited area of your website’s real estate.

11. Talk

This method to know the feedback of users has been in use since the days when men used to sell fire and the user probably used to come complaining that the fire he bought died when he fed him water because he thought the fire is hot and must be thirsty.

Talk has no replacement and the best way to execute is by calling your user- through your phone, Skype, Hangout whatever you and your user deem fitting.

Like everyone else users also like to be heard and acknowledged and an intelligent company never leaves the discretion to suggest new developments with the product managers only.

The problem which we have is not knowing how to ask feedback and I hope that this blog comes useful while you are at it. Share your thoughts in the comments.


This post was originally published in http://monk.webengage.com/hacks-to-take-user-feedback/ by Ajit Singh

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I was the kid who told the emperor that he is naked. Aspiring marketer. Currently @webengage. Formerly @zepo. Let's become friends on twitter @cycle_wallah

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7 Responses to “How Important is It to Take User Feedback (Also 11 Ultimate Hacks on How to Take it)” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

    Hey Ajit,
    It is important to be attentive to feedback from customers/visitors/clients. This will go a long way to improve the relationship that exists.

    However, the mechanism or strategy for taking user feedback is often ineffective with some bloggers and its really time to reconsider the offer.

    The 11 hacks shared here are in order. At least, each tells of an option that can be implemented by marketers to know that their visitors or customers are feeling about their product.

    A response to feedback is vital to improved conversion. Some of the hacks discussed here are new to me e.g. the use of Exit Intent survey on the checkout page, updates from CEO and heatmap.

    To make the most of feedback, it becomes necessary to make feedback mechanisms easier.
    Sunday William recently posted…What are the WARNING SIGNS That a Freelance Writer is a FRAUD?My Profile

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    Hey Ajit,
    For some businesses, it is not easy getting feedback from users/customers. This is common with brands that don’t even provide avenues for feedback to be attracted.

    Therefore, to ensure a regular feedback is generated from users, there should be provision of comment box, encouragement of feedback by asking, and responding to the minutest feedback.

    If users don’t feel encouraged, they would not leave feedback on your blog.

    Nevertheless, the 11 feedback hacks discussed here are revealing. I completely agree with them!

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Hey Ajit,
    An awesome post, I must remark! 😉 Many brands never get to know the importance of feedback but I guess they would change their perspective after going through this piece.

    There are many options when it comes to “hacking” feedback from users. It is important to choose the option that readily suits the needs of a particular business.

    While some brand may like to go for one particular hack, it might be useful to combine two or more for maximal engagements and conversions!

  • Profile photo of Robert A Kearse Profile

    Thanks Ajit:

    This was an awesome post. Not only was the information critical and highly relevant for existing products, it is useful for anyone planning to launch a new product.

    My essential emphasis for success in business in the Internet age is to “ASK THE CUSTOMER/PROSPECT WHAT THEY WANT, THEN GIVE IT TO THEM.

    A number of years ago a well known Internet marketer described a sales process that “virtually guaranteed” success by using that exact ask/give model.

    He ran a short series of AdSense ads promoting an ebook on parrot care and training.

    When, the ad traffic came to his site it encountered info stating he was writing an ebook on parrot care and training and would give a FREE COPY of the ebook to anyone willing to complete a short survey regarding parrot care.

    In the survey he asked what topics would the respondents like to see covered in the ebook.

    The marketer then outsourced the content creation and graphics.

    The content freelancer was presented with the results of the survey and directed to fulfill the wish list of the respondents.

    The ebook, on it’s own parrot care site, proceeded to sell for a net profit of about $1,800 PER MONTH!

    Ajit, four of your hacks:

    -1- Usability testing tools
    -2- Create Feature request forums
    -3- There is a subreddit group to validate your design
    -4- Regular product updates direct from the CEO

    . . . .are variations on the concept of “ask them what they want and give it to them”, but they are after the product creation stage.

    Implementing any one of these four would be valuable, and using all four would be monumentally strong.

    Thanks again, Ajit, for one of the best posts EVER on Kingged, and one which I have bookmarked for future reference.
    Robert A Kearse recently posted…

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  • Profile photo of Freedom Blogger Profile

    Hi Ajit!

    Very valuable blog post here!

    Customer Feedback and just feedback in general are so important to the success of any business!

    Especially in the direct sell business model.

    As technology evolves (rather rapidly), User Generated Content is becoming the most important part not just for any business but for every business.

    Testimonials and feedback are so powerful, they really can boost up the statistics for your entire business.

    For an instance, in the Case B that you have shared here – a simple change in design and format made the company Millions!

    I mean, come on!

    If that doesn’t say it all about taking feedback very seriously, I don’t know what else can!

    I think after the Case B this post hit the spot for the new business owners 😉

    One of the best tools, for a website to see what is working best, is the Heatmap Tool. I use that type of tool on my blogs myself.

    Sumome has such tool and it is very handy. It really makes a big difference when you take the time to track clicks, and where your visitors go when on your site.

    Of course, you will need to give this tool some time and also make sure to drive as much targeted traffic as possible – while you are testing.

    You really want to make sure you get a good amount of test results.

    The design of your website and learning from your visitors is something I always talk about. This is one of the most common aspect that most new website owners really underestimate.

    One great guy who really understands such psychology behind this is Derek Halpern. This guy knows his stuff when it comes to Paying Close Attention to Customers and Visitors.

    If you are building your own website, for your business, to expand and attract more customers, a healthy combination of such tools like Heatmap, Split-Testing, and Human Psychology – will boost up your numbers to the sky!

    When you really know what your customers want, and also what they are more comfortable with, you can do a lot more for them. And this will always result in an increase in profits – but not necessarily revenue.

    You see, when you implement such tips here, you will find out that you can make a lot more money from the same amount of people.

    An amazing example is the Case B that you have shared.

    I love that example man! haha…

    Thanks for sharing this – it is an epic and valuable topic, indeed.

    Keep up the great work Ajit!

    Have a fantastic weekend! 😀
    Freedom Blogger recently posted…How to Make Sure Your Website is Found On Google?My Profile

  • Profile photo of John A Karnish Profile

    Hi Ajit,

    This post makes a lot of sense. Why invest a lot of money trying to promote something that no one wants?

    You give some great examples of ways to get honest reviews of your product or service. I like the idea of the heatmap. It shows what people are gravitating to on your page.

    I also like the idea of going to the coffee shop and just simply asking for some honest feedback.

    Of course just have a blog where people can interact with you is a very easy way to get extra feedback.

    Thanks for you post Ajit. Have an awesome week and be blessed!

    Take care,

    John

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