If you’ve ever collected feedback from one of your users, you know that asking an end user “What do you want?” is often going to be met with a large volume of random, anecdotal inputs (in the best of cases), or worse, a whole lot of blank stares. But if you instead ask users “What problems are you encountering?”, the quality of response typically improves dramatically. That’s because how you communicate is a crucial part of the feedback management process.

So what’s the best strategy for actually communicating with your users about their needs and feedback? We’ve put together 3 best practices for how your team can communicate with users to improve the quality of the feedback you receive on a daily basis. 

1. Make the submission process as personable as possible.

The goal of the initial feedback collection process isn’t just to capture ideas or customer needs; it’s to start the feedback process off correctly by setting the proper expectations with the customers submitting that feedback. Part of this expectation setting: make customers feel like you care about their needs and that they’re not just disappearing into a black box. Doing that is simple. Simply make the interaction feel as human and as personable as possible. 

Sure, it may be quicker to set up a generic form through which customers submit feedback in exchange for an automated, “Thanks for the feedback!” message. But do you think those customers will genuinely believe that you’re earnestly considering those needs if the best you can do is provide them with a generic intake process? Of course not.

Having said that, there is nothing inherently wrong about a form submission. It’s successful in that it’s scalable. But even a subtle change to the language and tone you use at the point of submission goes a long way in setting the tone for what comes next. Nobody wants to feel as if they’re talking to a robot. The more human you can make that initial interaction feel, the more heard the person is going to feel. Sometimes, this is half the battle.

Not only can the tonal language you use positively impact the experience, but so too can the actual questions you ask as part of that submission. For example, instead of simply asking a user for a description of their feedback, what if you also asked them, “How urgent is this item to you?” This simple inclusion not only helps your team consider the relative importance of the item, but it also succeeds in sending the right signal to the customer. Namely, that you seriously consider the needs of your customers.

By demonstrating this degree of diligence up front, you essentially kill two birds with one stone; you collect meaningful insight while simultaneously signaling to users that you don’t take their feedback lightly. 

2. Good feedback collection is good feedback communication.

This piggybacks off of the last section. Many teams collecting feedback only collect a description of what the customer needs. This is a missed opportunity. As a rule of thumb, the more detail, the better (within reason). Again, this doesn’t just benefit your team by giving you more context for consideration and prioritization; it also communicates to the customer how seriously you consider their ideas.

There are a few universal inputs that we almost always see in our customers’ feedback collection processes. First, the type of need the user has. Second, the urgency of the need to the user. As these inputs tend to be fairly universal, we typically suggest they are standardized and included as part of every feedback submission process.

First, let’s look at type. Feedback items can come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from bug reports and feature requests to support issues and UX friction. Because of this vast range of possibilities, it’s important to be able to start by classifying the type of need in order to quickly wade through the noise and make sense of what your customers’ needs are related to. 

Outside of type, the second very common input we see captured in the collection process is urgency, i.e. the urgency of the item to the user/customer submitting it. There are countless ways to establish an urgency scale, but we recommend keeping it simple. A 4-point likert scale works great here: Urgent, Need to Have, Nice to Have, and No Urgency. Make this a simple checkbox selection or dropdown in your intake process, and you’ve instantly standardized an important input that sends a strong message to your customer.

Together, type and urgency go a long way to helping you consider what to do next about your customer feedback, but there may be additional inputs that are important to you. We often see teams express concern about asking users for too much information. With a reasonable number of inputs, this typically isn’t a legitimate concern. Remember, the more it appears that you seriously review and consider your customers’ needs, the more likely they are to feel genuinely heard. A good feedback collection process is a good communication process.

3. Challenge users to make difficult decisions.

Part of making users feel like you care about their needs is making them realize that you are aware of the history of their needs, not just the most recent need. One of the best ways to achieve this is by challenging your users to make hard decisions, in particular around the prioritization of their needs. 

For example, when a user submits a need and you know that they’ve already submitted something else in the past, you should prompt the user to prioritize those needs relative to each other. You can do this in one of two ways. First, you can prompt users to stack rank their needs, e.g. challenge them to identify the 3 “highest priority” needs, in order of importance. 

If this feels too involved, then we recommend a second, more streamlined approach; prompt users to simply identify the one highest priority item. Whenever they submit subsequent items, challenge them to tell you if any of these new submissions is more important than the previously highest priority need. This is another behavior which isn’t self-evidently about communication but does ultimately send an important signal to users during the early stages of the feedback management process. 

By challenging your users to make difficult decisions, you are effectively demonstrating that you are serious in considering what they need, have to weigh the importance of those needs against the many others you’re receiving, and want to encourage them to actively participate in the process.

Conclusion

In reality, there are a lot more than 3 strategies for communicating with customers about their feedback, but we hope this provides a solid starting point for you team. To learn more best practices for communicating across every stage of the feedback management process, get your copy of our free, in-depth guide!