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Product Feedback Surveys: Critical Product Management Tools

  • author

    Brenda Stoltz

  • posted

    Jan 13, 2017

  • topic

    Market Research

Product Feedback Surveys: Critical Product Management Tools

A very important component of successful Product Management is talking to and learning from current customers, prospective customers, and potentials (folks who don’t yet know they need your software). In my role as a Product Manager at technology companies, I’ve successfully used a number of techniques to obtain relevant information from these groups including:

· Customer Advisory Board – This is a group of customers who are willing to provide you feedback on a formal, regular basis.

· In-person meetings with existing customers – These are incredibly valuable, particularly with customers who are unhappy. I can learn more about the deficiencies of my products from them, than I can from 30 other conversations.

· Pre-sales questionnaires – I requested our pre-sales engineers to add questionnaires to their demonstrations. The aggregation of this information will tell you more about your prospects than any other single mechanism.

· Conferences – Walking around conference floors and asking folks about their pain points is always a good way to get information from potential customers.

· Surveys – This is a great way to reach out to a large number of existing customers and/or prospects for feedback or evaluation.

All of these methods have their strengths as a customer feedback mechanism and I encourage you to use a combination of these methods.

Surveys – Customer Insight At Scale

Surveys play a key role in the product manager’s customer feedback toolbox. They are particularly suited for quickly gaining insights from a large group of customers. Online surveys allow you to gather feedback from customers around the world. The structured nature of surveys makes them easy to analyze and quantify the feedback.

Surveys are a good product management tool to use when you want to learn more about:

· Strengths and weaknesses of your products

· Prioritization of features

· Roadmap direction

· Overall client satisfaction with your product or company

· Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Getting Customers To Respond To Surveys

In order for survey data to be useful for drawing conclusions, it’s important to get sufficient people to respond to your survey. This can be hard. For the first survey I sent out as a product manager at Metalogix, I only got 20 user responses out of the 1,000 emails I sent out.

Surveys often suffer from low response rates because:

1. It’s challenging to convince even devoted customers to take the time to fill out surveys. Customers are busy and your request for survey feedback will be low on their list of priorities.

2. Survey length can make or break the success of a survey. I’d like to learn as much as possible from a survey, but customers all have limited time.

What I’ve found to be useful, is to be open with respondents about the purpose of the survey. At the beginning of the survey, I also tell them honestly how much time it will take to complete the survey.

But the key to getting good response rates for your survey is to express value for their time. This is where survey incentives come in.

Using Survey Incentives

The reality is that everyone is busy, and taking time out of their busy schedules is something you have to earn. In the long term, you can earn this by acting on some of their feedback. But in order to get people to complete surveys, I’ve found that gifting can be very helpful. When I added a $10 Starbucks gift card to the survey I mentioned earlier, I received 98 user responses. This 500% increase in response rate gave me the large number of data points I needed for analysis.

I evaluated the survey responses to see if they were real, or rushed through just to get the gift card. Based on the uniformity of responses for certain questions that required more thought, I discovered that the great majority of responses were sincere. The reward simply motivated people to take the time to complete the survey.

But sending survey incentives can be painful and time consuming. We had to export the respondent list, purchase and send the gift cards to each respondent.

Fortunately, you can now use services like Rybbon, which is integrated with SurveyMonkey, to automatically deliver rewards when surveys are completed. This type of service saves a lot of time and makes sure that respondents are rewarded in a timely fashion.

Learning from Survey Feedback

Getting a large number of customers to respond to my product feedback survey had a huge impact on what my team and I learned. For example, we decided to rebuild the product installer before fixing some other issues we thought were urgent. According to the survey, those issues didn’t affect many users. As a result, support calls related to the install reduced by 25% within 4 months.

In addition, I selected a few key survey respondents as candidates for follow up calls. These respondents are particularly valuable users or users who had particularly interesting feedback. Since I’m relying on these respondents for future feedback, it was especially important to show them my appreciation for their time with a reward.

This is a win-win outcome, wouldn’t you say?

Learn how you can do survey rewards without the hassle with Rybbon for SurveyMonkey.

about the author
Brenda Stoltz

Brenda has over 20 years of experience building, selling and marketing products for F100 and start-ups.

Brenda has over 20 years of experience building, selling and marketing products for F100 and start-ups.