We aren’t the first team to press the importance of collecting customer feedback, and we definitely won’t be the last. When it comes to improving your product and your overall customer experience, having a solid foundation of customer feedback to reference is crucial. But, for many SaaS companies, collecting customer feedback, particularly high quality customer feedback, can be extremely tricky, time-consuming, and confusing. After all, not all customer feedback is created equal, and certain types of feedback are going to be more beneficial than others depending on your company and what you’re looking for. Plus, ensuring that your feedback is collected at the right moment will help make sure it’s as accurate as possible; a customer is going to be able to provide more accurate information the day after completing onboarding than two months after onboarding.

In order for customer feedback to be most effective, your team needs to collect the right type of feedback at the right time,, from the right people, in the right place. Tall order, right? Well, lucky for you, we put together this handy-dandy guide to help you uncover the best ways for your specific teams to collect customer feedback.

Ten Ways to Collect Customer Feedback

There’s about a million different ways to collect customer feedback, and everyone will give you different advice on how to go about it. But we’ve spent a long time speaking with different B2B SaaS companies and leading experts in customer success and user engagement in order to better understand best practices, specifically for SaaS companies. Here are ten of our favorite ways to collect customer feedback.

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS typically asks your users to rate on a scale from 1-10 how likely they are to recommend your product to someone else. Typically, those who rated 1-6 are considered “Detractors”, those who rated 7-8 are considered “Neutrals”, and those who rated 9-10 are considered “Promoters”. You can then find your NPS score by subtracting the percentage of “Detractors” from the percentage of “Promoters”.

NPS= % Promoters – % Detractors

So for example, if you have 68% “Promoters” and 10% “Detractors”, then you have an NPS score of 58. NPS can be a helpful metric, however it is highly speculative in nature; “How likely are you to recommend the product?” Instead, we suggest using aNPS, or Actual NPS. aNPS asks the user, “Have you already recommended the product? Why or why not?” This will give you much more actionable insight and data.

NPS or aNPS are great measures to get a snapshot understanding of what your customers are feeling about your product at that moment. While it won’t get you an in-depth analysis with reasoning and doesn’t really give you the ability to ask for clarity like a user interview would (more on that later), NPS is much easier to use if you’re trying to reach a wide audience, get more customers involved, and get a quick glance at what your customers are feeling.

2. Feature Previews

A great way to collect customer feedback is to let users get a sneak peak and provide feedback on new feature ideas before spending any time, money, or resources actually building them. This will increase the chances of your customers staying with you as they will feel like they have a say in what is being built and feel connected to the product. Plus, it will provide a sense of security for your team to know that you’re building something that your users will actually take advantage of and will drive value for your product.

Feature previews are a super cost-effective and time-sensitive method of collecting customer feedback as it helps you understand what your customers are feeling before you’ve spent money and resources building them out, but it’s important to keep in mind that not every user is going to see the vision. You’ll be sending prototypes or general descriptions on how the functionality will work, and many customers may have confusions or questions about why it looks a certain way or how it will be built out. Be prepared to answer any questions that your customers may have, and maybe focus on sending feature previews to users who you know will understand that it’s a work in progress in order to get the most accurate feedback.

Parlor Preview

3. Usability: Customer Effort Score (CES)

Typical Customer Effort Score surveys ask a customer to what extent they agree or disagree that the company, product, or service made it easy for them to address the issue in question on a 5 to 7 point scale. A numerical value is then assigned to each of the options on the scale, for example, assigning a value of 1 to “Very Difficult” and a value of 5 to “Very Easy”. The score itself is then calculated by taking the sum of respondents who fall within the “positive” range on the scale (for example, a score of 4 or above on a 5-point scale) and dividing it by the total number of respondents.

Similar to NPS, one of the biggest downsides to CES is that it doesn’t really provide any context as to why the customer feels this way. Users don’t expect every feature in your product to be equally friction free, nor do they expect the solution to each of their pain points to have the same degree of simplicity. So often, a user may find an area of your product complex but it doesn’t detract from their experience because they expect it to be fairly complex. One way to address this issue is to slightly adjust the format of the answer options, in particular by introducing a new answer option, “As Expected”. This allows a user to let you know that even if an aspect of your product is more challenging to use, it was still within the realm of expectation for them and was not a deterrent.

CES is another great way to gather a quick snapshot of how your customer is interacting with your product, its ease of use and simplicity makes it perfect for reaching a large audience in a very short amount of time. But adjusting it slightly to allow for clarity and context can help your team better understand why your customer is answering in a certain way.

4. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

We’ve all received customer satisfaction surveys; essentially, CSAT shows a user’s overall content or discontent with your product. You ask your users to rank your product on a scale (1-3, 1-5, 1-10, etc.) and then you take the sum of the scores divided by the number of respondents. While NPS measures overall satisfaction, CSAT typically measures a user’s satisfaction with a certain feature inside of your product. This metric is most effective when you use it at the exact moment they just finished using that feature during their journey through your product.

CSAT can be used as an overall health indicator of the satisfaction of your user base (or individual cohorts). By targeting questions to a specific part of the experience (e.g. onboarding or the product itself), you can get more insight into which aspects of the experience need to be improved. CSAT responses can also help you determine which customers are unhappy, and thus needing some extra attention from your team, as well as which customers are very happy, and can be advocates for your company or product.

5. Feature Requests

Allowing your users to submit feature requests is a great way to collect accurate and honest customer feedback. Your customers’ feature requests can be used to understand what your users want from your roadmap and what features they feel your product is currently lacking. If there’s a certain request that you receive over and over again from many different users, that’s probably a clear sign that it’s something you should consider including in your product roadmap. Allowing your users to submit and prioritize their own ideas gives you better insight into exactly what they want and what they’re expecting to be coming down the road.

Giving your customers a space within your product to request certain features or updates to your product is a cost-effective, simple, and far reaching way to gather customer feedback, however it’s not necessarily timely. If you need lots of feedback right now, it may be better for you to consider a more active feedback collection method, but if you’re just looking for a way for users to submit feedback over time, feature requests is the perfect fit.

6. Live Chat

Live Chat is a great way for your customers to get real time support with your product and for your team to gather real time customer feedback. If a customer writes into your live chat with a question and you’re able to quickly resolve it, it may be helpful for you to send a Customer Satisfaction survey or an NPS survey to see if you were truly able to help them in a satisfactory way, or to see if there was a way you could’ve handled the issue better.

Another way to use live chat to collect customer feedback is to set a notification to go off in the live chat bubble as soon as a user logs in if you’ve just launched a new feature. Not only does this notify a user that there is a new feature for them to check out and you can easily provide resources to help them through the process, but it’s a great way to collect their initial sentiment about the new feature. It’s a quick, cheap, and effective way to gather a snapshot of your customers’ reactions to a new aspect of your product.

7. Roadmap Validation

One of the most important things you can do when creating your roadmap is to validate it with customer feedback. Why would you spend time, money, and resources building out a feature that you don’t know for sure will have a positive impact on your users? There are hundreds of different ways to validate your roadmap and adjust your roadmap priorities to match the priorities of your users, but one of our favorite tried and true methods is The RICE Method. The RICE method is a popular weighted-scoring method of prioritizing features popularized by Intercom. RICE stands for the four factors that go into considering a feature: Reach,  Impact, Confidence, and Effort. 

Reach estimates how many users may be affected by a specific feature within a given period. Impact is used to measure how much a product change supports a specific goal, such as “increase customer satisfaction” or “reduce churn”. The Confidence score is exactly what it sounds like; it allows you to evaluate your confidence in the other estimates in your RICE calculations. Lastly, the Effort score is used to calculate the amount of time required from all the involved members of your team (generally from product, engineering, and design).

The RICE Method is a great, data-driven way to prioritize and validate your roadmap features, however it’s not the most time efficient method as you would have to recalculate the score constantly as your customers’ priorities change. But if you’re looking for a one time, analytical answer as to what features would have the most impact for your users, the RICE method is a great answer.

8. Customer Happiness Index

Customer Happiness Index measures a user’s satisfaction with a feature or flow after they have engaged with it. Typically, Customer Happiness Index includes a 3 point scare of positive, neutral, and negative, but it’s not uncommon to see 5 point scales as well. This type of survey, again, will give you a great snapshot into how satisfied your customers are with your product, but won’t really provide the right context or any reasoning as to why the customer feels this way, which is equally as important. You could always add some additional follow up questions to clarify these points, or reach out to those users who responded negatively and ask if they would be willing to jump on a call to give you a reason for their response. This isn’t a fool-proof plan, and many will likely either not respond or not agree, however Customer Happiness Index is a quick and cost-efficient way to get an overall insight into what your customers think of your product. 

9. Customer Interviews

One of the best ways to get contextual customer feedback is customer interviews. Interviews are a free form format, and are a great opportunity for your team members to speak directly to the people actively using your product every day. Some advantages are that interviews allow for in-depth conversations that can range from the broad value of the product to specific feedback on individual product features. Because the conversation is happening in real time, the interviewer can ask the user to clarify responses to questions or go into greater detail on particular areas of interest. However, interviews can be very time-consuming and expensive, and because of this, you often end up collecting far less feedback than if you had sent out a survey, even if it is more contextual. So if you’re looking for far-reaching yet shallow answers, then surveys may be the right route. But if you’re looking for fewer responses but more in-depth and contextual, then user interviews may be the way to go.

10. Focus Groups

Focus groups are a way of gaining customer feedback similar to interviews, but at a slightly larger scale. For early stage software products, focus groups will be made up of individuals that are representative of the ideal customer profile and target persona. For products that have already achieved product-market fit, focus groups may be comprised of current customers, often the highest-paying or most strategic – referred to in many cases as a Customer Advisory Board.

One of the pros of focus groups are that, as with interviews, the conversational structure presents an opportunity to ask follow up questions for clarification or further detail. And the group nature can unlock valuable threads of conversation that you otherwise wouldn’t have discovered in a one-on-one conversation or a single question survey.  However, although you may get additional perspectives, you don’t necessarily get deeper perspectives than in single user interviews. In fact, participants are often less likely to openly share their perspective, and you’re not able to follow threads of conversation as deeply given the sensitivity to other participants’ time. When compared to surveys, focus groups are  more time consuming and expensive, however they typically will allow for a deeper conversation.

3 Tips for Collecting the Most Accurate Customer Feedback

All of these methods for collecting customer feedback are great ways to understand what your customers are feeling and why, but if your results are accurate, they’re meaningless. Collecting feedback is a great first step, but being conscious of how you’re collecting this feedback can help ensure that you’re getting the most accurate feedback possible. Reaching the right people, at the right time, and in the right place are the three crucial keys to getting the most relevant and accurate results.

The Right People

The first key to accurate feedback is reaching the right people. Not every single user is right for every single survey or interview. If you’re sending a Customer Effort Score survey about a specific feature in your product, for example, you’ll want to only send the survey to the users you know are using this feature in the product. Creating different user groups can allow you to easily segment users based on what features they use, what payment tier they’re in, or how active they are in your product in order to specifically target different users and ensure that you aren’t wasting your time or your customer’s time by sending them surveys or interview requests on things that don’t apply to them.

The Right Time

The second part to collecting accurate feedback is to make sure that you’re reaching your customers at the right time in their user journey through your product. If you want to send a survey asking about their satisfaction with your onboarding process, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t sending that survey six months after they join. The memory of their onboarding process will be hazy and they won’t be able to provide an accurate response. Creating event based triggers that will send a survey or interview request as soon as a user finishes a specific action, such as onboarding or using a certain feature for the first time, will ensure that the memory of what you’re asking about is fresh in their minds and they can give you accurate feedback about whatever you’re asking about.

The Right Place

The last piece to the “Accurate Feedback Puzzle” is making sure that you’re reaching your customers in the right place. Asking them for responses to a survey or questionnaire is great, and many users will take the time to answer them honestly and thoroughly. The best thing you can do is to make it as easy as possible for them to answer these questions and give you clarity. You don’t want to make a customer hunt down a feedback form or have to follow several different links in order to provide a survey response; you’ll want to reach them in places that they already are. That’s why we recommend sending surveys directly in the app or to their email inbox. Customers are much more likely to give you responses if it’s easy for them to complete and it’s already living in a place they’re visiting anyway, so make their lives that much easier in order to get a wider scope of feedback responses.

Conclusion

Gathering accurate and actionable customer feedback is easier said than done, and every single method has its pros and cons depending on what you’re looking for. But whether you want an in-depth analysis into the core features of your product, or you’re just looking for an overview snapshot of what your general customer population is feeling about your product, gathering customer feedback is crucial to the success of your product and your company. So make sure you take the time to gather timely and accurate customer feedback to help launch your product to the next level and understand exactly what your customers need.