Standing out in front of the competition has never been more difficult, especially if you’re building a SaaS product. Having the best features or the lowest price is no longer enough to make customers happy.
But what can you do then?
Build products that truly address your customers’ pain points and goals as closely as possible.
Start listening to your customers and collecting their feedback. Sounds simple, but it’s crazy how often product managers and startup founders take product decisions without involving customers in the ideation process, leading to costly mistakes, such as building features no one ends up using.
What is Customer Feedback?
Customer feedback is the information your customers send you about your product. This information could be on the quality of your offer, the pricing, the customer support, or literally any aspect of your entire product.
Feedback can come in various shapes or forms, such as:
- Google reviews
- Facebook reviews
- Live chat messages
- Customer support emails
- Forum posts, blogs, videos
- And every platform you can imagine
The bulk of your success with managing feedback is being able to collect it from all of these different sources, place it in a single location and act upon it.
Most companies collect feedback in some shape but don’t have a structured way of managing and storing it. What’s even more concerning, they don’t know what to do with it once it’s in their hands.
Why should you gather customer feedback?
Instinctively, you know that listening to your customers is good. They’re the ones paying you, after all.
If you collect more feedback, you can improve your product in a way that brings more customers and makes your existing customers happier. But you’re probably looking for some more tangible reasons, so here they are.
- Your competition is already doing it. Two-thirds of companies are now competing just based on the customer experience. If you’re not already collecting feedback, you’re one step behind.
- It is the only way to build the features that will propel your business forward. How else do you build something that your users actually want? The answer is simple - you ask them. If you build them without feedback, you’ll just add the ones you THINK you need and inevitably build the wrong ones. Not only will this deter new customers but you may actually lose your existing customers too.
- Your customers will spend more money. According to research, 86% of customers will spend more money when you provide a stellar customer experience.
- Happy customers share their experiences with others. If they have something positive to share, 72% of customers will share it with 6 or more people.
With all that being said, collecting and managing feedback can be one of the best investments you can make in your overall business.
Let’s get into some practical ways that you can start collecting feedback today.
The best ways to collect customer feedback
There are many approaches to collecting feedback from customers and there’s no single one that works best. Depending on what you sell and who your customers are, you will use different ways to collect feedback. Here are some of the most popular choices.
In 2021 I spent three months interviewing 50+ product managers on how they collect and manage customer feedback.
I've come up with a summary of everything we learned below.
These are the best ways we found companies are collecting feedback and feature requests from customers:
Using a dedicated feedback management system
For example, you can collect feedback in an idea or feedback board with a tool such as FeedBear. It’s a much more structured approach than just calling up a customer and asking them what they think about the product you’re selling.
A feedback board has many benefits. Primarily, you will avoid duplicate feedback entries and your customers can easily vote on their favorite feature requests. They can even leave comments and talk to your team and other customers.
The biggest benefit is that a feedback board serves itself - people add new ideas on their own and they can discover new ideas. Feedback pours in at all times and not just when you decide to run customer interviews. And unlike interviews, you can scale this solution easily, allowing yourself much better organization.
Last but not least, feedback boards open up a two-way conversation that allows you to keep the customers informed and engaged once they choose to participate, post, vote or comment.
One-on-one time with your customers is invaluable. An interview is a great way to get qualitative feedback from a customer and gain actionable insights.
The problem with interviews is that they are rather time-consuming. First, you have to figure out which customers you want to interview. Then, you need to reach out to those who are interested.
Following that, you will need to devote hours to attend the call, record it, transcribe it, and convert the qualitative information into something that can be used by your product team.
In short, they’re phenomenal in their own right but they require significant time investments to do right.
The problem? They don’t scale. Organizing the information is a ton of work. Feedback comes in only once in a while when you decide to dedicate time to interviews. However, chances are you and your team are hungry for feedback to help you prioritize product decisions, decisions you take every week!
Talking to your sales and customer success teams
There is no better person to collect feedback than someone who is on the front lines of your business every day. Your sales and customer success people know the ins and outs of your product and constantly get requests from leads and customers.
You can make it a habit to talk to your customer success and sales teams and get the feedback that customers provide every day. If your organization has tools in place that allow your reps to take notes during calls, this can be of great help.
The advantage is that you can just set up a call or meeting and get the information that you need. As for the downsides - you’re using up your reps’ time and the feedback is indirect, so you can’t dig deeper and get to the root of the problem, understand why the customer is asking for a feature, learn the context of what they’re trying to achieve.
Another downside is your sales reps will have their own agenda and will be interested in getting the features they think will help them close sales – not something bad per se, but something to keep in mind when choosing what to prioritize.
Talking to your customer support team
When things get tough, these are the people that face the music. They will have all the complaints and negative feedback in one place. If you have a structured way of gathering this feedback, you’ll be able to quickly find what your burning issues are.
For example, you can tell them to make notes in your CRM or VoIP calling tool to save them for later. Most apps nowadays have this feature and it comes in handy when the customer calls you again (or you call them).
The problem with this? Information will be scattered in different tickets or conversations, so you’ll need a process or tools for your team to log them somewhere more manageable. Your support staff might also not be able to get all the context you need to truly understand a request from a customer, you’ll often miss the context and the reasons why. This being another one-way channel, it doesn’t allow you to dig deeper.
Nowadays, there are countless tools that you can use to create customer feedback surveys. Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, and Typeform are just some of the most popular choices.
You can find a list of common survey questions in many places online - and even our blog. The problems arise when you have to distribute the surveys and get the customers to participate. Once the results come in, you need to process them and turn the data into something your team can use immediately.
As such, surveys are great if you’re willing to invest the extra time and effort to maximize their effectiveness as a feedback tool.
The biggest downside? You can’t run surveys all the time, so feedback will only come in once in a while, perhaps once a year. Not enough to help you make product decisions day to day.
Using NPS surveys
While they are similar in nature to traditional surveys, NPS surveys can reveal quite a lot about your customers and how they feel about your brand.
In short, an NPS survey is a net promoter survey, where customers give a grade from 0-10 about how likely they are to recommend your product to a friend.
You can use them to divide your customers into promoters, detractors, and passives and determine which actions to take to increase the promoter group as much as possible.
The data that you get from them is palpable and easy to use but the distribution issue remains the same - you need a way to get them in front of a larger audience to get meaningful results.
The benefit of NPS surveys is that they are limited to a numerical response from 0-10 so you can immediately put a value on how satisfied your customers are in general. Some tools even allow you to add open-ended, qualitative questions to your NPS surveys.
However, NPS surveys aren’t really meant for qualitative feedback and customers are not likely to make product suggestions or complaints within a single answer. While it’s great to have a quantitative measure of satisfaction, they are not ideal for getting ongoing feedback ideas.
Using a task tracker tool
If you want a logical and systematic way to collect and manage feedback, you can ask your team to create cards and tasks in your dedicated project management tool such as Asana, Trello, or similar.
Pros: it’s convenient and easy to use and track feedback. Cons: requires extra work to set things up and every piece of feedback you get outside of that tool has to be added to it manually or through integration.
However, the biggest downside is that a task tracker tool can only be used as an internal tool with requests you get from different sources. You can’t let customers view this information without giving them too much information. For example, they can’t get access to just view a Trello board without editing it. In other words, it’s meant as a tool for internal use only, without external collaborators, such as FeedBear.
FeedBear allows you to create a feedback board internally with your team members and let your customers view, comment and upvote features without actually making any edits.
If you have a small amount of feedback coming in, this is a feasible way to collect and manage it. With a larger volume of requests and comments, you’ll soon run into issues like overcrowded boards and duplicate entries.
Using an in-app feedback widget
Tools such as FeedBear and Pendo let customers leave you feedback within your SaaS application. This is a simple way to get massively valuable feedback as the customers are already in the tool and they comment on issues as they come up.
A screenshot from Pendo
There are different ways to do this. FeedBear customers usually leave a link to the feedback board within the footer of their application. Alternatively, you can add a feedback widget within your app in any position you wish.
Creating a Jira board
The Atlassian app is one of the most popular ways for developers and product teams to work on projects. In a situation where you need to collect and manage feedback, customer support escalates issues into Jira tickets. Ideally, you have a separate project for feature requests.
Jira is a great tool on its own and for bugs and bug tracking, it’s unparalleled. However, it’s not ideal for feedback as everything is sorted in two groups: do or won’t do. Moreover, you can’t group similar feedback into themes and turn cards into tasks.
In other words, you need to split up your feedback from your tickets. Needless to say, duplicates are bound to show up as well. On top of it all, it’s hard to prioritize things in Jira according to different criteria because as comprehensive as it is, this tool was not built for collecting feedback.
Using a CRM or helpdesk software
If you use a CRM or some other sales software to get in touch with your customers, you can collect feedback from this source and then store it in your preferred feedback. Or an Excel sheet if you like to make your life more complicated.
There are also tools for customer support such as Zendesk where customers get in touch with you through live chat. Just copy and paste the feedback to your preferred feedback management tool and you’re set.
An example of a customer support chat from Intercom
To get all the feedback in one place, you can set up a Zapier automation to get it from the tool into a separate sheet or a project management tool task/card.
The issue with these two types of tools is that they can get pricey and go into hundreds of dollars per month. If you’re looking for one tool for customer feedback alone, FeedBear is the more comprehensive and considerably more affordable solution.
Using Github to track feature requests as issues
If you’ve been into development for any portion of time, you’ll have used Github. It’s a great way for developers to get a grasp of their projects and ensure that they stay on track.
There’s just one thing though - not all people who collect and manage feedback are developers or project managers. For sales, customer support, and marketing teams, using Github would be an overkill, to say the least.
A Google Sheet to aggregate feedback and requests
You can’t go wrong with old school. Right?
Google Sheets are a simple way to add every bit of feedback that you get from a variety of sources. It sounds nice in theory, but practice shows that it can get quite messy after a while.
Sheets suffer from the same issues as some of the methods mentioned above. You can’t put a number on qualitative feedback to guide your decisions - at least not easily. On top of that, you’ll have to work extra hard not to make any duplicate entries.
It’s a great solution in a pinch, especially if you’re just starting out. However, if you’re serious about collecting and managing feedback, the lack of features makes this a rather poor choice.
Usability studies with people who match your user persona
If you don’t have your own customers just yet, you can still do research and get great feedback. Come up with a user persona and once you find a profile that you think wants to use your product, conduct usability studies with your product.
This is an effective way to get validation before you even launch something so it’s a solid early-stage strategy for a SaaS product.
In sales conversations and sales meetings
When you’re right on the call with a potential customer, they’ll have great questions and feedback that is invaluable. The doubts they have before purchasing can be immensely helpful not just for your product but your marketing and positioning as well.
You can be a fly on the wall and listen to the calls or have your reps record their meetings for later. This is an immediate approach that works well for qualitative feedback but sorting it out in terms of creating transcripts and quantifying the data can be a chore.
Creating a customer advisory board
In the world of B2B, customer advisory boards are a common way of collecting feedback from your most valued customers. Simply ask your best customers to join a meeting where they tell you what they think about your product.
This is a superb way to get information from people who are your most important customers. However, getting these people to participate can be a challenge, especially if you’re selling to an enterprise audience. Moreover, an advisory board represents just a fraction of your customer base - not its entirety.
The Best Method for Organizing and Managing Customer Feedback
As you can see above, there are quite a few different paths to go when it comes to organizing and managing feedback. You can do it manually and enter everything you get into a sheet or a document, which can take quite a bit of time.
Or you can use a specialized tool for managing feedback.
FeedBear allows you to collect, organize, manage and communicate on feedback. From the very first time when someone leaves you a review or a feature request, to the moment that request is fulfilled, you can do it all in FeedBear. Your information is streamlined and all in one place.
Want to find out more? Sign up today to get started!
Using an Idea Board with Upvoting
As mentioned before, one of the most common scenarios is that your customers will repeat the issues they have. It’s not unusual to have a large portion of them requesting the same features or some variation.
If you collect feedback manually, you’ll have lots of duplicate entries. A feedback board on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to add each idea once and let your customers vote on it.
This is how it’s done in FeedBear. A feedback board is a place where all your customer feedback is aggregated and you can let your customers vote on what matters the most to them. Your team can also tune in with their comments.
An idea board is a great way to organize your feedback, avoid duplicate entries and merge similar ones. Moreover, it’s a great way to prepare for the next step in managing the feedback your customers provide.
Your product roadmap starts with customer feedback
A product roadmap is one of the most effective ways to stay in touch with your customers and have an open conversation about your product. While it has its own pros and cons, it’s an irreplaceable tool for any serious product team.
While creating a product roadmap is not necessary, it’s a great way to use the feedback you’ve collected and show your customers that you’re working on issues they suggested to you. Moreover, creating a roadmap isn’t that difficult - at least not in 2021.
If you’re going about it the old way, you can use the most important feedback you have (whether from a feedback board or a Google Sheet or someplace else) and turn it into cards on a roadmap.
If you use a tool such as FeedBear, getting the feedback from your feedback board to a roadmap is a matter of a few clicks. Your most important feature requests will immediately go to a roadmap that you can structure as you want.
In the roadmap, customers and internal team members can have discussions and vote for the features they consider the most valuable.
Closing the feedback loop
Once you have all of your feedback neatly sorted into place and you allow your customers to vote and comment on what they want to see built, it’s time to close the feedback loop.
This means letting your customers know that their feedback is valued, accepted, and acted upon. Every time someone sends in a feature request and it gets fulfilled (or a status update happens), you need to let the customer know that you’re doing something with their feedback.
Traditionally, this wasn’t so easy. Imagine having 500 customers in an Excel sheet who all voted for you to build a feature. You get their emails in a list and send them an email that their request is planned for Q1 of 2022.
Instead, use a feedback tool such as FeedBear to automatically keep your customers in the loop. Whenever a change happens in a feature, they immediately get a notification about it. Whether they voted for it or left a comment, they get notified.
This is important for quite a few reasons, but primarily, you want to engage the customers who leave feedback and keep a conversation going. You want to show your customers that you value their opinions and use them to guide your product development.
It strengthens the bond between you and your customers and presents your company as one that values feedback and acts on it.
Collecting and managing customer feedback is one of the most important activities to undertake for any product team - or even sales and marketing. If you want to improve your customer experience, engage with your customers and establish yourself as a business that listens to its customers, collecting feedback is a superb practice.
And if you want to do it but don’t want to use dozens of different tools - try FeedBear! We make it easy to collect, organize and manage your feedback, from start to finish. Let your customers give you the feedback you need, create beautiful product roadmaps and show your customers that they matter. Sign up today for free!