A lot of companies know how to collect customer feedback. But the real struggle is knowing how to create continuous feedback loops that provide valuable, actionable information that can inform strategic objectives.

In this article, we’re going to see:

  • How continuous feedback loops can improve your product
  • The best ways to collect customer feedback
  • How to engage customers with surveys
  • What to do after customers provide feedback

Let’s get started!

What are feedback loops and why should product teams use them?

So what are product feedback loops?

To answer that, let’s take a look at one of the most popular ones. In his book Lean Startup, Eric Ries explains that the fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.

This serves as the basis for a framework he calls the “build-measure-learn” process:

product feedback loop

  • Build the product: Turn an idea into something tangible that customers should love.
  • Test the product: Measure if customers love it.
  • Improve the product: Learn from mistakes to make a product that customers will love.

In other words, the product feedback loop is the process of collecting customer feedback continuously and improving your product based on their opinions.

The product feedback loop is a process of collecting customer feedback continuously and improving your product based on their opinions.

Build and test early-stage ideas

Building early-stage ideas can help create product feedback quickly and efficiently.

Ben Garner over at Strategyzer has a few ideas about cost-effective ways to do this. Brochures, data sheets, and UI mockups, for example, are tangible and can be put in front of users right away.

Prototypes of an idea are another good way to go, because they effectively capture the vision of your product’s future. Prototypes are most useful when users can get a sense of how much it will serve their needs.

If you aim to test for functionality, you only need to build enough to deliver an outcome that users can respond to. If you aim to test your product’s “fit and finish,” then you may need to build the product closer to its final intended design. It’s up to you. Ultimately, the goal is to build something to put in front of users that you can start collecting learnings from right away.

Measure your product feedback

So you have something built. Now it’s time to see if customers love it as much as you hope. Here are the best ways to collect customer feedback and begin your feedback loop:

Customer interviews

Customer interviews aren’t outdated. They are invaluable to product teams when it comes to learning about user needs, problems, pain points, desired solutions, and other feedback.

There are many different types of customer interviews, including customer validation interviews, persona development interviews, usability studies, and more. The real value of these interviews lie in the complexity of the feedback you’ll receive. It goes a step deeper any other type of customer feedback.

Customer surveys

Customer surveys are an important part of every product feedback loop — especially because the majority of them are conducted either inside the product or soon after using it.

What are the pros and cons of customer surveys?

The biggest advantage of surveys is that they correlate with the user experience. In other words, after users interact with the newest feature in your product, you can immediately ask for feedback. However, even though the simplicity of surveys is likely to increase response rates, they may be limiting because you aren’t present to clarify answers.

Here are three of the best user surveys you should consider using as part of your product feedback loop:

NPS survey: Measure customer loyalty

The Net-Promoter Score, which is the most popular survey type, measures your customers’ loyalty to your product. Here’s an example from Unbounce:

product feedback NPS

Based on the feedback you collect, you can segment customers into three different groups:

  • Promoters: People who answered with 9-10. Promoters will very likely refer your product to a friend or colleague.
  • Passives: People who answered with 7-8. Passives are satisfied with your product, but they’re not addicted to it.
  • Detractors: People who answered with 0-6. Detractors are unsatisfied with your product – there is also a chance that they will spread a negative word about it.

By identifying those who are ready to promote your product, you’ll know where to allocate your resources to boost your referral marketing efforts. By identifying those who are unsatisfied, you can take a proactive approach and make an effort to change their minds.

CSAT survey: Measure customer satisfaction

The Customer Satisfaction Score survey (CSAT) is used to measure satisfaction for particular in-app experiences. For example, the impact of individual features, or how satisfied customers are with the onboarding experience.

Here’s what Hubspot’s CSAT feedback survey looks like:CSAT product feedback

The biggest strength CSAT has over other user survey types is simplicity. It’s very easy to close the feedback loop and gather valuable information about specific user experiences.

You can use CSAT to measure customer satisfaction after a user activates the feature or experiences an aha moment, before the customer renews the product (or upgrades), or after customer support sessions.

CES survey: Learn if your product is easy to use

CES stands for Customer Effort Score. It measures how much effort customers need to invest in order to complete a task within your prodcut. Together with user onboarding tools, CES surveys can help you understand how difficult your product is to use.

CES survey product feedback

So, what’s the best time to ask for the Customer Effort Score?

  • After users use a newly-released feature
  • After users reach a milestone or experience success with your product
  • After making contact with customer support or using the knowledge base
  • After an interaction with the product that led to the payment, subscription or upgrading.

Protip: Try using exit intent surveys in the first run experiences.

Other methods

Here are other ways to collect customer feedback:

Customer support

Customer support reps offer a wealth of useful feedback because they talk directly with customers all the time. You’ll gain a better understanding customer problems, bugs, feature suggestions, opinions and more.

Product usage metrics

Product usage metrics are a great way of discovering customer feedback. Look for patterns in software analytics — they’ll help you gain an understanding of how different features are being used.

Sales

Your sales department is in constant contact with your prospects. Sales reps can find out what motivates them as well as major pain points.

Employee feedback

Diverse perspective within your organization can provide useful — and sometimes surprising — insights.

Social Media

Customers often provide feedback through chat platforms or leave comments on various channels. Make sure to keep an eye out.

Continuously improve how you capture product feedback

Anyone can gather customer feedback. But what comes afterwards is important as well:

Decide what feedback to prioritize

What will become your main source of feedback? Will it be in-app user surveys, email surveys, customer interviews, support requests, or something else? Will you have multiple streams of feedback?

Create your “feedback storage”

Where will you store your feedback?

You can use spreadsheets, forums, or another dedicated tool. A product management sytem like productboard provides a central repository for all product ideas, feedback, and requests gathered by teams across the company.

Define processes and workflows

What is your feedback loop is going to look like?

To build the best possible product for your customers, you need to validate different solutions based on feedback. This brings you right back into your feedback loop. It’s a non-stop process you use to keep making your product better.

The bottom line

As you can see, feedback loops are very important for product teams. Well-defined feedback loops help you to store valuable information, make necessary changes, and build a product that customers will truly use and love.

What are your thoughts about creating feedback loops? Let us know in the comments below!

Aazar Ali Shad is the VP of Growth at Userpilot and has more than 5 years of SaaS Experience. He is currently helping 500+ SaaS companies improve their user onboarding and increase product adoption.

productboard is a product management system that enables teams to get the right products to market faster. Built on top of the Product Excellence framework, productboard serves as the dedicated system of record for product managers and aligns everyone on the right features to build next. Access a 15-day free trial of productboard today.

Aazar Ali Shad
Aazar Ali Shad Aug 13, 2019