Before we jump in, let’s briefly define user feedback.
User feedback broadly refers to any form of input about your product or company that comes from your end-users. This information can help you and your team better understand your users' perspectives and can help you uncover opportunities to improve. It can come in many different forms and from a variety of sources.
Here are a few examples of the different types of user feedback you may receive:
The primary reason user feedback matters? It's a mandatory input for most product development activities. It provides valuable insight into what customers need, what will make them happy, and where the market is heading. At scale, user feedback can help identify where your best product opportunities are. Making product decisions without input from your users is like trying to make a road trip without a map or GPS.
In addition to informing product decisions and helping you reduce your likelihood of building the wrong thing, keeping a pulse on product feedback can give you a leg up on the competition. As your users’ needs evolve, so will your market and other available software in your space. A continuous flow of user feedback can help you stay aware of, and proactively respond to changing needs in your space...before a competitor can beat you to the cake.
Finally, an oft underestimated reason to care about your feedback program: it’s a critical reflection of your brand. Listening to your users’ input sends them a clear message: your brand cares about them, their opinions, and has their best interests in mind. This in turn builds trust, creates loyal customers, and improves customer retention. Furthermore, a well developed feedback program and a reputation for making customer-centric decisions could be the thing that drives a potential customer to choose your product over a competitor's.
While there are many different types of feedback out there, this article focuses primarily on the user feedback you can most easily apply to your product management process. Rather than diving into the nuances of the various feedback mechanisms, let's look at feedback in the context of two key categories: active and passive.
Active, or solicited user feedback, is feedback that you or our team have requested from users. This could come in the form of customer interviews, surveys, customer advisory boards, or even usability tests.
Passive, or unsolicited user feedback, is feedback that you receive organically. For example, a user may share their thoughts about a piece of new functionality on social media, or they may choose to interact with an in-app feedback widget within your product or even send your support team some suggestions or feature requests. Sometimes your product reviews on sites such as G2 or Capterra may even include bits of passive user feedback for consideration.
In short: both types of feedback are important inputs for product decisions. Passive user feedback helps you get a broad view of your userbase’s needs, while active user feedback mechanisms can be used to dive deeper into the problems your users experience as you determine what an effective solution might look like.
While it’s standard for the product management team (or a division of said team) to lead the charge of managing, organizing, acting, and following up on user feedback, a best practice is to make user feedback an organization-wide priority. Doing so creates better outcomes for everyone involved and helps promote a shared understanding of customer needs (which is a key component of becoming a customer-centric organization!)
For example, customer-facing teams such as sales, customer support, and customer success interact with customers and prospects daily. Through these touchpoints, they build a great deal of customer empathy and a deep understanding of your end users’ most common challenges and unmet needs. By empowering and encouraging your customer-facing team members to capture and share user feedback with you, you’ll build upon your existing understanding of customer needs and get a more representative view of what your full userbase wants and needs. Furthermore, your customer-facing teams typically want to help the folks they interact with solve problems and be more successful with your product. Making them a key component of your user feedback program can help them accomplish their own goals as well.
Here’s another great way to put feedback at the heart of your organization: Ensure folks have access to it as a means to help them further develop customer understanding. Your engineering team could benefit greatly from some extra insight into the key customer problems they are setting off to solve while building a new feature. Your counterparts in marketing may similarly benefit from this context when it comes time to develop messaging and positioning for your new functionality. Finally, when it comes time to share your product roadmap with folks across your organization, providing context into the “what” and most importantly the “why,” in the form of customer feedback will make it easier for you to align and rally folks around your plans.
Without going into the specifics of the various feedback mechanisms out there, here’s a few pieces of advice for you as you start collecting user feedback.
As you begin to establish a repository of feedback from your users, you’ll want to also define how you will make sense of all the input you receive. It will be particularly important for you to find ways to quantify your qualitative feedback (i.e. feature requests) to help you see just how significant a particular request and prioritize the most critical customer needs. Here are a few things to consider when trying to see which feature requests are most significant to your users (and your business).
The key thing to remember when trying to identify the most important feedback to act on: don’t take customer quotes at face value. You want to think more broadly, understand what will benefit the vast majority of your users, not just a vocal few. If you’re unable to determine whether acting on a specific request will impact your userbase as a whole, there is no harm in asking for more feedback from your users via an active feedback campaign.
Eventually, most product development teams find themselves looking for a specialized product feedback tool to help them manage their user feedback in an efficient and scalable manner. A product feedback platform can help product teams “level up” their understanding of customer needs, double down on their commitment to customer-centricity, improve organization-wide alignment on product priorities, and ultimately deliver better products.
So what is the best user feedback tool out there? With countless different tools out there today, it’s important you understand your options and identify a product feedback platform that aligns with your organization’s specific needs and challenges. For more tips on selecting a user feedback tool, check out The Ultimate Guide to Selecting a Product Feedback Solution, and if you’re looking for feedback on your B2B SaaS product, why not check out a demo of UserVoice and chat with our team about your needs? If we’re not a good fit for you, we’ll help get you pointed in the right direction.