User feedback is a topic that we’re incredibly passionate about at Parlor. So we work with hundreds of SaaS teams to understand why user feedback is so important, how they manage user feedback, what approaches work well and where companies run into challenges. In this article, we’ll cover what user feedback is, why it matters and some approaches to collecting and managing user feedback.

 

What is user feedback?

User feedback is any information collected from users or customers about their experience using your product or service. This user feedback can be either proactive, that is, you solicit it from users, or reactive, meaning that your users sent you the feedback unprompted. Feedback can come from many different channels and in many different forms. Types of feedback include things like bug reports, support requests or suggestions about how your product can be improved. Channels include live chat, in product surveys, email, phone and more. After collecting feedback, it’s then used by various teams to improve the user or customer experience.

 

Why is user feedback critical for SaaS businesses?

With the market for SaaS products more competitive than ever, your prospects and customers have many alternatives to using your software. So how do you attract new customers and ensure that your existing customers are happy with your product? One of the most effective strategies is to constantly improve your customers’ experience by making the most of the user feedback that they provide. After all, they’re the ones using your product every day.

In addition to making your product better, faster, responding to your users’ feedback will keep those users more engaged. You show them that you value their input and that your product is a living, constantly improving thing. We’ve all provided some sort of feedback to the products and services that we use in our day to day lives. And it’s incredibly frustrating to provide that feedback and get no more than a “Thanks for your feedback” and then never hear another thing. 

Well a much better approach is to keep your users in the loop and provide transparency on the process. We’ll talk more below about how to do that.

 

When to collect user feedback

While you should always be listening to your users and responding to their feedback, there are some specific times when feedback is particularly valuable. 

 

Pre-Product

In the earliest stages of creating a new product, before you’ve even begun to build, you probably have a strong conviction of the unmet need in the market that your product will solve. So while you won’t have a real product for users to test and provide feedback on, you should still get input from the types of customers that you’re building your product for. At this stage, you can conduct user interviews with those target customers to validate your concepts. As you move from concept, to things like wireframes or prototypes, you can gather more feedback to refine your vision. The feedback that you gather will help you get much more quickly to a minimum viable product and the folks who participated in those early interviews are a great source of early business.

 

Roadmap ideation and prioritization

As your product evolves past the MVP phase and you have a base of real customers using it every day, you need to allocate your resources to building the most impactful new features and improving existing ones. So leverage user feedback to help you understand where your product can expand into new functionality. You users’ feedback will also help you understand which existing features can be improved to provide more value to your users. We’ll talk more about this below, but a good feedback management system will then help you weigh and prioritize those new feature and feature improvement requests, so that you can work on the most impactful ones first.

 

New feature development

Then as you build the highest priority new features, you’ll want to solicit input from your users to see if how you plan on building them resonates with your users. You can use feature previews to put early wireframes or mockups of the features in front of your users and get feedback to help you refine them.

Continuous improvement

Over time, your product will grow more feature rich, but also complex. At this stage, feedback will help you continuously improve your product and features, so that your product can evolve with your users changing needs. An often overlooked aspect of this stage is to be sure that you’re not letting your product get bloated. Your users can also help you understand which features or parts of your product aren’t valuable, so that you can cut these to provide a streamlined product experience.

Types of User Feedback

As we mentioned in the intro, feedback can come in a few different forms including proactive feedback that you solicit, reactive feedback that your users provide, unprompted, and ongoing feedback.

 

Proactive

Proactive feedback is feedback that you actively solicit from your users or customers. This can include things like the NPS surveys that we’re all familiar with (more on those below). Or more specific questions focused on aspects of your product experience, such as onboarding. Generally proactive feedback is designed to help you understand a specific aspect of your users’ experience.

Reactive

Reactive user feedback is that which comes unsolicited from your users or customers. Some of the most common examples are things like bug reports or support requests. For example, a user tells you that they keep getting logged out of your product. Or the new feature that you just released isn’t working the way that it’s supposed to. Because this type of feedback is often an indication that your user is having a negative experience or is even unable to use your product, you should respond and resolve it quickly.

 

Ongoing

This is an important category of feedback that many companies don’t handle particularly well. In addition to the categories above, you can collect ongoing feedback by making it easy for your users to provide constructive input on the product experience at any time. By providing feedback channels right inside your product experience, you show your users that you really value their input. For example, provide an easy way for users to make feature requests while using your app.

How to collect user feedback

There are many different ways to collect proactive, reactive and ongoing feedback. Below are some examples of different types of each.

 

Run in-app surveys

We’ve found that one of the best and most natural ways to collect feedback is during your users’ regular use of your product; that is, right in your app. What better time to learn what your users really think than when the thing that you’re asking them about is top of mind? In-app surveys have much higher response rates and provide more insightful learnings than other types of surveys. Here are a couple of examples of surveys that work particularly well in-app:

 

Customer Effort Score

Customer Effort Score measures the effort required to achieve an intended outcome with your product or service. For example, when a user completes onboarding, you might ask the simple question “How difficult was it for you to complete onboarding?” There’s no better time to ask this question than right after the user has completed onboarding and no better place to ask them than right in your app!

Customer Happiness Index

Customer Happiness Index measures a user’s satisfaction with a feature or flow after they have engaged with it. It could be customer support, any knowledge base articles, or specific features within the product. At Parlor, we like to use a 3 point scale of positive, neutral, negative, but it’s not uncommon to see 5 point scales as well. Because you’re looking for specific feedback about an aspect of your product that your user has just engaged with, an in app survey will yield much higher engagement and far more meaningful insights than any other type.

Conduct customer interviews

Most product teams leverage user interviews as part of their user feedback strategy. Interviews are a free form format, not focused on interacting with a specific deliverable. User interviews are a great opportunity for product managers to speak directly to the users of the product that they’re building. 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.

 

Use NPS surveys

Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys ask a simple question: “How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend or colleague?”. The survey respondent must answer this question based on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being the least likely and 10 as the most likely. Generally, companies follow this question with an open-ended question asking the user to elaborate on their response. While NPS surveys can be a useful overall indicator of satisfaction, we think NPS surveys are overused, since they don’t provide actionable insight on what is working well and what isn’t. So make sure you understand the limitations of NPS.

 

Collect other in app feedback

In addition to some of the focused in-app feedback mechanisms that we mentioned above, give your users the opportunity to share free-form feedback, right in your app, at any time. Common types of free-form feedback include support requests, bug reports and feature requests. By asking your users what type of feedback they have, you can route the feedback to the right place, which is more efficient for your internal teams and provides a much better customer experience.

 

Offer live chat

Sometimes your customers or users need a real-time interaction with a human, so live chat is a great solution. But importantly, other times they don’t want or need that real-time interaction. So ask your users whether they want that live chat experience or if they just wanted to submit their feedback.

 

How to Manage User Feedback

Effectively managing user feedback is a bigger topic than we can cover in this post. But one thing we’ve learned from talking to hundreds of companies about their user feedback: without a good system in place, your user feedback will overwhelm you. Conversely, done right, effective management of user feedback will keep your customers happy and engaged and give you powerful insights to continuously improve your product. Here are a few elements of a good feedback management system.

 

Route user feedback to the right team

There are lots of different types of user feedback. For example, support requests, bug reports, and features requests. While each of these types of feedback is typically handled by your support, engineering and product teams respectively, in many companies all of this feedback is handled by a frontline support team. So instead, ask you user what type of feedback they’re submitting and then route it to the team that can best handle it. This approach is more efficient with your team’s time and provides a much better user experience.

Consolidate cross-channel feedback into a single record

User feedback comes from lots of different places. Your sales team may hear feature requests or competitor comparisons and store that information in your CRM. Your customer success team may receive feedback on calls, through emails and in your live chat tool. All of that feedback may land in a ticketing system. And your product team may be collecting feedback through user interviews and storing it in a project management system. 

But with all this feedback sitting in all these different systems, it’s impossible to get a consolidated understanding of what your users, customers and potential customers value most. So collect your feedback into a single system of record. You can then organize your feedback into categories, which will allow you to do things like measure how pervasive a particular feedback theme is or understand how much existing customer or prospective customer revenue is associated with it. This process is essential to knowing which feedback you should prioritize for your product team to build.

 

Close the feedback loop with your users

When your users take the time to provide important feedback about their experience with your product, there’s nothing more frustrating than receiving a simple “thanks for your feedback” and nothing else. This makes the user feel like their feedback just landed in a black hole and will likely be ignored. Instead, keep your users in the loop during the full feedback lifecycle.

Start by thanking them for providing feedback, but then, continue to provide updates as their feedback is being considered by your team, prioritized for development and then actively being worked on. And finally, and most importantly, celebrate the release of the new functionality by announcing your feature release and thanking the users who contributed feedback.

Use Parlor to Collect and Manage User Feedback

Effectively managing user feedback is one of the most powerful ways to grow a loyal user base and rapidly improve your product. However, it may seem like an overwhelming challenge to implement an effective feedback management system. Well, that’s why we built Parlor! We’d be thrilled to help you turn user feedback chaos into your feedback advantage. Even if you’re not ready to invest in a feedback management system, we’re always happy to talk through your process and share some effective strategies. We’d love to hear from you!