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Tips for better user feedback

Any product builder worth their salt recognizes the value of incorporating user ideas in the development and iteration of product development. Those in the software and web game are no different and whilst Product Managers the world over aim to collect user feedback, often that feedback fails to make an impact due to poor feedback quality.

So what does good feedback for software teams look like, and how can you structure your collection to maximize feedback quality? In this blog, we’ll highlight the ‘big rocks’ in quality feedback needed to support software teams and how to avoid the roadblocks limiting your ability to generate great user feedback.

To understand good feedback for software teams, let’s look at the bad… What causes poor feedback quality?

Feedback for software teams that is deemed poor quality is often the result of asking leading questions, not providing enough context, or failing to properly engage with users. Asking closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ won’t give you the insights you need to improve your product. Instead, focus on open-ended questions that encourage users to elaborate on their thoughts and feelings.

Another common pitfall is not providing enough context for user feedback. If you’re asking for feedback on a specific feature, be sure to give users enough information about that feature so they can provide thoughtful, meaningful insights. Simply telling users to “check out the new login flow and let us know what you think!” is not enough.

Finally, user feedback means nothing if you don’t actually use it to inform your product development decisions. Be sure to engage with users regularly to get their thoughts on your product roadmap, new features, and overall user experience. If you’re not actively incorporating user feedback into your product development process, you’re not getting the most out of user feedback.

That’s a snippet of the bad, but what about the good? What does good feedback for software teams actually look like, and how can it be created by Product Managers and Developers leading the user feedback charge?

1. Consistent: Consistency is ground zero for feedback, feedback that’s created in disparate ways – some email, a user group, online survey, in-app form etc. creates a huge challenge for those looking to analyze and prioritize feedback for action. Multiple collection channels and inconsistent feedback creates independent silos, easily missed, difficult to correlate and action intelligently.  Avoid it by creating a consistent, centralized portal for users to provide feedback. 

2. Representative: Feedback needs to be reflective of the user base, not just a small subsection. The email request for users to complete your survey more often than not will gather two people – those champions, espousing the greatness of your product, and those disappointed few, eager to vent frustration. Neither are likely representative of the wider user base where you want (and need) feedback from. This falsity in feedback diversity creates a disconnect between software teams and the widest part of their addressable market leading to incorrect assumptions and incorrect product decisions. Address this by putting feedback options at the fingertips of all users, primarily in-application or on-website, where submissions can be quickly and easily made – encouraging anyone with user feedback relating to feature requests, or bug fixes to provide their thoughts without going out of their way to do so.  

Timely user feedback

3. Timely: Feedback for software teams should focus on feedback that is collected at the time of user interaction, teams should strive to make their feedback collection real-time when gathering user feedback. By collecting feedback in a timely manner when users are experiencing issues caused by bugs, or enjoying an ‘A-HA!’ moment, feedback quality improves when they have an outlet to communicate it there and then, rather than being hit with a survey or email whilst being occupied by another task. Like the element of finding representative feedback, timely feedback can be powered by enabling a collection point directly on your app or web site where users can deliver it whilst their attention is 100% on your product and their problem or product idea. 

4. Accurate (clear): Understanding feedback is key to analyzing, categorizing and prioritizing feedback for adoption. Avoiding collection techniques that lead to vague, rambling explanations is key to creating usable, high-quality user feedback. If a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s worth considering how to move from the written form, to a visual form for your feedback collection. Modern tooling allows screen images, video recording and even full session replays to eliminate the misunderstanding and misinterpretation associated with ‘old-school’ user feedback techniques. By getting feedback in a clear, accurate fashion, Product Managers and those leading the process collecting feedback for software teams are able to screen, categorize and prioritize feedback faster and actually speed development cycles whilst taking onboard user feedback. 

Disruptive user feedback

5. Non-disruptive: User experience is key to user satisfaction which leads to customer retention and increased usage, hopefully driving further revenue growth. So why would you think pushing your feedback requests onto users and disrupting their experience is a good idea. Unwanted or unrequested feedback requests hitting already full inboxes only acts to distance many from your desired goal of collecting feedback to make a better product. To create great feedback, it needs to be part of the users desired interaction, when users provide the feedback and your user feedback setup caters to that desire easily, you’re going to end up with feedback that is more concise and has more thought put towards it. Creating the in-app or on-website function is key to this capability, passively offering a feedback outlet for those that want to contribute (and in the experience of the 20,000 users already on Userback, people DO want to contribute).

6. Actionable: This is the most well understood element of the ‘feedback loop’, if you don’t do anything with feedback once it’s received, the above steps are a mute point. Users feel ignored when feedback isn’t acknowledged and teams that fail to action feedback, fail to create maximum market fit. Being actionable can be tough though if done via disparate collection methods. To create really actionable user feedback, teams don’t need to undertake resource intensive manual handling of information, instead adopt a user feedback platform that automates the processing, ingest user feedback (in a timely and non-intrusive way) and feed the information to where you work, say Slack for initial screening, then push approved feedback directly to where your Developers work to make sure it is actually added to the existing workflows in your process. By putting information in your workflows, let’s use Jira as an example,  your feedback can be added directly to your board and added to your road map where it’s processed in the same fashion as the internal tasks created. 

In addition to these points, teams should strive to provide a mechanism for users to see their feedback is being actioned, or classified, or at the very least taken seriously. Even if the feedback doesn’t make the product roadmap. The generic automated email or on-screen confirmation no longer cuts it for those trying to put users at the center of their product development. 

To wrap it all up, software teams that are able to effectively collect and incorporate user feedback into their development process are more likely to build successful products. By avoiding common pitfalls and focusing on high-quality feedback, you can set your team up for success. User feedback is a crucial part of any product development process, so make sure you’re doing it right!

If you’re looking to improve the feedback for software teams in your organization, try Userback free for 14 days now. 20,000 software teams are already using Userback’s user feedback platform to collect and integrate user feedback into their development process.