Startup Roundtable Episode 3 Recap: How To Get User Feedback
Nobody understands your product better than you.
But what about the problem your product solves? Who knows that better than you?
Your users. They're the ones feeling the pain, running into problems you haven’t even thought of. They’re the ones looking for answers to questions you might have never considered.
Because it's not about who knows the ins and outs of the product best. It’s who best knows the problem the product attempts to solve.
That’s the key person. That’s the brain you want to crawl around in.
It’s why we love talking to customers here at StatusPage. It’s why we value customer feedback over our own gut intuition.
User feedback was the topic of our latest episode of the Startup Roundtable.
We were joined by two amazing experts in the field:
- Chad Keck, CEO and Founder of Promoter.io
- Cindy Alvarez, author "Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy” and director of User experience at Yammer.
We covered a lot of ground in the talk, but here are 7 tips to take away from the chat.
1. Do Something Already
If you’re still waiting around for the right time to get user feedback, you’re waiting too long. There’s no such thing as too early to get user feedback. Even if getting that feedback means finding a stranger on the street and sitting down in front of a laptop with them for 30 minutes. Go through your product, watch how they interact with it, get that initial feedback.
It’s important to take notes and be observant. This isn’t your time to be in pitch mode, you need to listen. If you find yourself explaining more than watching, you’ve got some work to do.
2. Data Can’t Do All The Work For You
A common temptation founders fall into is thinking that data and automated surveys can tell them all they need about how their customers are interacting with the product.
There are two problems here. For one, a lot of products don’t have enough users yet to make these data sets statistically relevant. But a bigger problem is thinking that data is all they need. It’s incredibly helpful, but that doesn’t mean you should quit talking to users individually. There are insights and problems that will surface from person-to-person conversations that can’t be collected anywhere else.
3. Let People Down Gently
Unfortunately, some feedback is just, well, terrible. There’s no other way of putting it. Some feedback is just not helpful. It’s an outlier. Technology companies see it all the time with feature requests. A lot of us avoid this feedback. We don’t like confrontation so we ignore it.
Bad idea. Imagine you made a mistake and had to apologize for it, but you did nothing. This wouldn’t make you look very honorable. Neither does ignoring someone who took the time to give their thoughts on your product. Even if those thoughts are worthless, you need to respond. This is a real person, maybe even someone who gives you money every month. Or someone who can influence others. Don’t leave them with a bad taste about you.
Like a good apology, it’s best to be thankful and humble. Politely tell the person you appreciate their time and feedback. Then kindly let them know that there are other priorities on your road map right now. Or let them know specifically why the feature doesn’t work for your company. They might be so off base that they’re looking for an entirely different product. Go ahead and point them there. Even if it means you won’t get their business, you’ll get their admiration.
4. Use The Right Tools
You can get started with feedback with nothing more than a phone and a pen. But if you’re ready to get more sophisticated with your work, go ahead and check out this list of great tools that can help you out.
5. Don’t Silo Feedback
This happens all the time. Feedback comes in, someone collects it, it collects dust. When planning and strategy meetings come up, the feedback is sitting in some stagnant folder somewhere. Collecting good feedback only helps if you actually do something with it. It can be hard to gracefully weave this in to your development roadmap. But it needs to be done. Make sure whoever owns user feedback has a voice in the planning sessions.
6. Help Them Help You
Your users might be giving you all they can to tell you how they want to use your product. But what are you giving them in return? At the enterprise level, the person advocating for your product might need a lot of help getting the rest of their team to buy in. They have bosses, legal teams, security experts. All need to be satisfied. Put together some documentation helping them advocate for your product. This could be data on how other customers have saved money and gained efficiency from your product. It could be a set of talking points or answers to common questions, rebuttals to common objections. Feedback isn’t a one-way street. Help them help you.
7. Remember The Bottom Line
We’ve all got bills to pay. And the products we build, ideally, are helping us do that. But we forget that when considering feedback. If customers are struggling with two different aspects of your product, which one should be a priority? Well, which one brings in more revenue? And by how much? Smart companies have started calculating a bottom line revenue figure not just for the company, but for subsets of the product experience. How much does Feature A generate in revenue? What about Feature B? What about this section? These figures are extremely valuable in making decisions that would normally be left up to gut feeling.
Note: This is embarrassing. We had a technical problem with the audio recording on this talk. The audio levels recorded at way different volumes and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to save it. So this week’s edition of the recap doesn’t include a video. We’re really sorry for this. We’ll be back soon with a video in the next episode. Thanks for your patience.