Understanding user feedback is integral to the success of any product. One of the first things product teams have to establish while developing new products is a robust connection to their user base.
Here’s how to gather and evaluate user feedback, and control its influence on product evolution.
1. Build User Feedback Networks: From Friends to Fandom
During the phase of extensive market research and before launching the product to the public, our product team relied heavily on feedback from the inner circle, also known as the “FFF” (Friends, Family and Fools). This consisted of insights from the core team, stakeholders, and close associates.
Soon after, diversifying our feedback sources became crucial. Our team turned to the public by creating a buzzing Discord community and multiple feedback forms for feature suggestions.
Furthermore, as the product was released, a strong presence on social platforms like Instagram and Twitter became essential. These channels encouraged and expanded real-time communication, gathering users’ reactions, and maintaining a close relationship with the fandom.
All of these channels molded the product into what it is today.
“Never underestimate the importance of organic feedback, casual comments on social media or any other informal channel users might use to reach out. Every voice matters!”
2. The Power of User Interviews
Beyond the usual feedback channels, it’s important to maintain an active 1:1 conversation with your user base through regular user interviews. These sessions, often preceding major feature rollouts, ensure that the product is on the right path.
Try to frame questions in a way that doesn’t unintentionally nudge users toward desired answers. Allow them to express their authentic opinion in a way they see fit.
3. How to Validate User Feedback
It’s not enough to just collect feedback; understanding the ‘who’ behind it is equally important. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- How frequently does the user engage with the product?
- How long has the user been using the product?
- What is the demographic profile of the user providing feedback?
- Which context does the user have about the product and how deep are they within the industry?
- What is the primary motivation behind the user’s feedback?
- How does their feedback compare to the general trends and sentiments from the broader user community?
Depending on what type of feature you’re developing, you might need opinions and feedback from different types of users. Sometimes you need a seasoned user to advise you about the changes. However, often the most groundbreaking ideas emerge from novice users or newcomers, who can provide fresh perspectives and highlight user-friendliness gaps.
4. Organize User Feedback for Implementation
As the product grows, so does the influx of feedback and ideas from different types of users. Keeping a record of every request for a new feature or a tweak of the existing one enables easier analysis later on.
Here’s how our product teams conduct feedback management:
- Raw feedback collection
This step contains writing down all requests and suggestions from all established communication channels.
2. Bi-weekly community reports
Every two weeks, the team creates a concise one-page report of all the feedback and requests. This summary shows the potential impact and frequency of each suggestion.
3. Initial backlog prioritization
This phase involves integrating the new feedback into the ongoing backlog, ensuring each feature is sorted according to its urgency and implementation complexity.
4. Refined backlog
Doing this step once a week lets you fine-tune details, re-assess priorities, and ensure the goals remain clear and actionable.
5. Sprint alignment
The very top of the backlog is kept well-defined at all times. That way, the features are ready for the upcoming 2-week-long development sprint.
5. Set User Expectations
One thing to highlight here is the importance of setting community expectations. As the nature of software development dictates, it is hard to predict the amount of work needed to implement something. What you can do is fragment any effort into manageable chunks and make sure the right people for the job are assigned these.
“We rarely commit to the community that something will be done by some date.”
Sometimes the idea that comes your way might be different from your current vision of the product. While these suggestions might not be immediate development priorities, always document and leverage them to refine your product direction. Don’t forget to communicate this to your users and show that their opinion is valued.
Feedback can spark change
A feedback-driven approach reduces the risk of drastic product shifts. Constant communication with your users will result in most adjustments being minor but frequent. The trick is to keep listening and react quickly.
“Setting up a robust process to gather quality feedback demands a lot of effort. However, it’s nothing compared to how much effort would’ve been wasted developing in the dark.”
Maintaining open communication channels, coupled with an organized approach to evaluating and integrating user insights gives a head start to anyone in the product space. Feedback isn’t just about listening – it’s about evolving.