Product Feedback

12 min read

In-App User Feedback: How and Why to Capture Feedback in Your App

When users start an app or software session, they have a clear idea of what they want your application to accomplish. If your product fails to help your users accomplish their goals—or it takes too long to accomplish them—you lose customers.

The sooner your product development team identifies and fixes areas of friction in the user experience, the more customers you’ll acquire and the fewer you’ll lose. 

While quarterly surveys and customer advisory boards can also provide actionable product insights, in-app feedback captures users’ ideas and frustrations in real time. Unless you develop a strategy for collecting and making sense of in-app customer feedback, you’ll be slower to make app improvements. The result? Lower customer satisfaction and higher rates of churn. 

Why Collect User Feedback In-App?

When you build feedback mechanisms into user workflows, users are more likely to share their ideas or point out problems. They’re less likely to share feedback if they have to leave your app and search for an email with a survey link. In-app user feedback tackles the challenges faced by product managers in several other key ways as well:

  • Provides insight into how to improve the usability of a particular feature.
  • Drives deeper discussions about possible changes with users who are already performing certain actions.
  • Uncovers and fixes bugs.
  • Captures new ideas for product improvements and app development.
  • Available around the clock, making real-time feedback a more convenient customer option.
  • Requires little to no maintenance after implementation, leaving you more time for other tasks.
  • Encourages higher response rates to feedback prompts. 

Realizing these benefits depends on following best practices in your in-app feedback strategy, such as making ease of use and discoverability a priority.

Types of In-App Feedback

Before focusing on discoverability, decide how to balance the two main types of in-app feedback to support your business goals. Both general and contextual feedback can reveal important insights. The trick for product managers is knowing when and how to deploy each type.

General Feedback

General feedback deals with an app or web experience as a whole. For instance, a well-positioned pop-up within your platform allows you to collect feedback at any point in users’ workflows.

Pop-up surveys ask customers to rate the overall app experience. These can be full surveys or a single, easy-to-answer question, such as “How happy are you with our app? Happy, Neutral, Dissatisfied, or Very Dissatisfied?”

Simple, one-question net promoter score (NPS), customer satisfaction score (CSAT), or customer effort score (CES) surveys gather feedback on numerical scales. Send them in pop-ups, or in email and SMS notifications. A “general” NPS survey question would have this format: “On a scale of 1-10 (1 = least likely, 10 = most likely), how likely are you to recommend our app to a friend?”

Contextual Feedback

Contextual feedback concerns a specific interaction with the app, such as a new feature, bug fix, or process update. These feedback prompts appear right after a user completes the desired action.

You might use a contextual pop-up survey to assess a new offline version of your application. You might ask, “Is the offline app’s navigation Faster, About the Same, or Slower than the online version?”

Satisfaction surveys are usually sent after an in-app live chat session with a member of the support team. A contextual CES survey might ask, “On a scale of 1 (least difficult) - 5 (most difficult), how difficult was it to find a solution to your support issue?”

How to Gather In-App Feedback from Users

There are various ways to collect feedback within your app or website. Many product teams opt to use a combination of methods to ensure they get sufficient feedback coverage

Here are the in-app feedback methods to consider:

1. Open-ended feedback widgets

2. User satisfaction surveys

3. NPS surveys

4. Shake-to-send feedback

5. Rate-my-app feedback

6. App analytics feedback

1. Open-Ended Feedback Widgets

Open-ended widgets capture general user feedback when a customer voluntarily clicks on an icon or button embedded in your app or website. Once clicked, a pop-up appears in which users leave their thoughts.

Because these buttons or icons are present throughout the app session, the widgets they hide are usually set up to collect open-ended feedback. Product managers often include two to three prompts in the widget to segment responses for analysis. Common prompts include:

  • Suggest a new feature.
  • Report an issue.
  • Tell us what you like.

In-app widget success tips

Make your feedback widget discoverable.

These widgets work best when displayed in an easy-to-discover and consistent location. Place them in page headers or footers, along page gutters, as a top-level menu item, or as an always-visible icon in the app’s bottom right corner.

Make this feedback method optional.

Users are only willing to leave so much feedback at a time, so be strategic about when you solicit what feedback. Say you also want to collect contextual feedback about a feature you’ve just rolled out, if both requests automatically appear over the course of the app session, you risk overwhelming or annoying your customers.

2. User Satisfaction Surveys

In-app user satisfaction surveys can be general or contextual, automatic, and/or optional. They typically pop up after a user tries out a new feature you hope improves their experience.

These customer surveys most often follow the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) structure, which asks a user to rate their satisfaction with a feature on a scale of 1 to 5. A rating of 5 means “highly satisfied,” while a 1 means “highly dissatisfied.” Your in-app user feedback tool should aggregate the ratings to give you a clear picture of user sentiment levels.

Sure, you can gauge satisfaction levels with email surveys sent after the user completes their session. The reality is putting them into the context of your application makes it more convenient for users to respond. And in turn, survey completion rates should go up substantially.

In-app satisfaction survey success tips

Keep in-app surveys short and sweet.

Ask a single question and let users get on with their day.

Use surveys as interview pre-screeners.

Suppose you want to conduct a series of longer interviews with dissatisfied customers. In-app satisfaction surveys quickly segment those users for follow-up. Screening users before you speak with them is a surefire way to increase the relevance of your feedback.

3. NPS Surveys

NPS is a useful metric for understanding user loyalty. Satisfied users are not necessarily loyal—they may like particular features of your app, but immediately switch when they spot an app with slightly better pricing.

With so many options available in the top app stores, users have more reasons than ever to switch to a new software provider, creating more headaches for product leaders. AppsFlyer found that Android app retention on Day 14 in Q3 2022 was down 6.5% from Q3 2021. On Day 30, retention dropped even more, declining 10.3% from 2021.

Structurally, NPS surveys resemble satisfaction surveys. They lead with a question, such as “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this app to a colleague or friend?” Your most loyal users respond with a 9 or 10, while ratings of 7 or 8 indicate satisfied customers who need a bit more nurturing to become loyal.

Users who answer with a 1 to 6 aren’t just unhappy and disloyal. NPS surveys call this group “detractors” because they may even discourage others from using your app. 

NPS survey success tips

Leave room for open-ended feedback.

In addition to the standard question, give users a place to share open-ended feedback. Conduct a RUF analysis to get useful insight into which aspects of your product could use improvement.

Make it clear that someone will review the open-ended NPS feedback.

The fastest way to lose customers on the verge of loyalty is not reassuring them that you’ll act on their feedback. As soon as a user submits an NPS survey, don’t just respond with a “Thank You.” Close the customer feedback loop with a note saying you take their input seriously and will follow up as appropriate. 

Modify the standard NPS prompt for B2B products.

Know your audience. If you manage a B2B product, modify your NPS question to better apply to your situation. You might ask, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product to a colleague based on [name a feature]?"

4. Shake-to-Send Feedback

Many mobile apps use the shake-to-send option in an effort to be less obtrusive. Users simply shake their phones to trigger a menu of feedback options. 

Like other forms of in-app user feedback, shake-to-send prevents users from losing their in-app context when they want to leave feedback. For example, after using Google Maps’ shake-to-send feedback feature, you don’t have to reenter information. The application returns you to where you left off.

Shake-to-send success tips

Educate your users about this feedback option.

Not every app user will be aware of this functionality. Include other feedback options or use subtle in-app messaging to highlight the shake-to-send option during user onboarding.

Allow users to opt out.

Some users may find this functionality frustrating if they accidentally trigger it. Give them the option to turn it off.

5. Rate-My-App Feedback

Android and iOS app stores have their own feedback mechanisms that can complement your own. These mechanisms trigger prompts, asking customers to rate your mobile application during a session. 

Developers can control the design, complexity, and display frequency of rate-my-app feedback requests—up to a point. App stores limit the number of times you can call their reviews API, giving you space to balance rate-my-app feedback with NPS surveys, for example.

Rate-my-app feedback and user adoption go hand in hand. A high percentage of good reviews boosts your app's popularity and credibility in app stores. 

Rate-my-app success tip

Send rate-my-app requests to qualified users.

Avoid sending rate-my-app prompts to first-time users two seconds after they open the app. You don’t want to give users a reason to disable rate-my-app feedback or, worse, delete your app because of too many product feedback requests. Only send rate-my-app requests to users who’ve used your app over a period of time. They’ll be more familiar with your app’s features and can rate your product more accurately. 

6. App Analytics Feedback

App analytics feedback happens behind the scenes, thanks to digital insights tools such as Heap. It automatically gathers quantitative data on crashes, user drop offs, conversion funnels, and more. The payoff is a better understanding of how specific users interact with your app without directly asking the customer for feedback.

Suppose you’re looking for the perfect spot to place your open-ended feedback widget. Heap lets you program an A/B test to figure out which in-app location leads to the most widget usage. 

Use Heap’s Klaviyo integration to send win-back emails or SMS notifications to users who drop out of your free-trial signup flow. Include contact info for a sales or support rep who can answer any questions.

App analytics success tips

Balance quantitative analytics data with qualitative user research.

While tools like Heap can highlight interesting patterns, they won't tell you the whole story. That's why we recommend supplementing any behavioral analytics tools with insights from feedback widgets and CSAT surveys.

For example, app analytics might tell you that a high percentage of users abandon their shopping cart just before the final checkout page. If you rule out technical glitches, you may need to program a survey to better understand why they’re abandoning.

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Best Practices for Gathering Users’ Feedback In-App

Before you launch your in-app feedback strategy, consider its impact on the overall customer experience and key stakeholders outside the product team.

‍Integrate In-App Feedback with Other Business Intelligence Tools

Keeping the user feedback you receive from various sources in silos won't do you any good. Make sure you have a way to aggregate feedback from all sources in a single place to better understand your users. 

That single place is often a CRM, such as Salesforce. Top CRMs integrate with in-app feedback tools, email service providers, and even social media platforms. The CRM associates the data streaming in from these other sources with specific customer profiles.

With an integration, you’ll have a more complete view of what users think of and want from your product. A user may report high satisfaction with a new product recommendation feature, but then leave a negative comment on Twitter about your customer support team. This larger context informs how you’ll follow up with this user.

Create Follow-Up Plans Based on User Feedback

Once users have gone through the trouble of sharing feedback, close the loop with appropriate follow-up. 

Consider B2B users who leave negative in-app feedback about a feature. These individuals may be on the verge of churning, but with the right follow-up, you can keep them in the fold. Depending on their level of dissatisfaction, you may offer them a complimentary month of usage or escalate the issue to your customer success team for specialized outreach.

If you’ve integrated your in-app feedback tool with a CRM, use the CRM’s native email or SMS functionality to send your follow-up campaigns, depending on user opt-ins. The CRM tracks user responses to the campaigns as well.

Make sure you have your follow-up plan in place before you start collecting feedback.

Give Users Time to Form an Opinion Before Asking for Feedback

If you're actively soliciting feedback in your app, be thoughtful about when you trigger your survey pop-ups, NPS pop-ups, or rate-my-app notifications. 

Users need time to form an opinion. A poorly timed feedback request interrupts their app session and distracts them from what they wish to accomplish. 

Consider the following feedback collection cadence:

  • Send rate-my-app requests once per quarter to repeat users after one minute of app usage.
  • Program NPS surveys once every two months to users who’ve completed more than one satisfaction survey. Don’t send NPS and rate-my-app surveys on the same day.
  • Use CSAT surveys when you roll out new features. Avoid sending on the same day as rate-my-app and NPS surveys.

Validate Product Decisions with Your In-App Feedback Tool

Strong quantitative customer data and market research are often enough to make significant product decisions. However, before investing thousands of dollars in development costs, validate your planned iterations with in-app feedback tools like UserVoice Validation. 

By allowing users to provide feedback when they are already using your product, you ensure they provide fresh, live, valuable, and targeted feedback.

To learn more about using UserVoice’s in-app feedback tools, click here to start your free trial.

Peter Alig

Content Marketing