Customer feedback is invaluable for product managers, enabling them to rapidly respond to and improve their products, user experience, and increase customer value. This guide helps you understand what SaaS product feedback is, the benefits of different types of feedback, and the various collection methods available.
The most successful product organizations are customer centric, considering customer impacts and benefits with every decision they make. A key ingredient to maintaining that customer focus is understanding what customers care about and value. This makes gathering product feedback essential.
Only actual customers really know what customers need and want. Without real-world feedback, product teams can only guess. And by truly understanding the concerns, frustrations, and desires of their customer base, companies can feel far more confident they’re on the quickest path to product-market fit.
For SaaS products, customer feedback plays an even more important role in product development thanks to the speed with which those inputs can be transformed into action. Whether you’re using agile, continuous delivery or some other methodology, hot button items can be addressed in days or weeks versus months or years.
This stream of product feedback provides confirmation you’re focusing on the most important things first and not ignoring burning issues or pain points. By listening to customers and jumping on problems and friction points quickly, you can decrease churn, improve retention, and build customer loyalty by demonstrating your organization’s responsiveness with action.
Your mileage may vary, but these are some of the more frequent trouble spots feedback seekers tend to encounter:
You can’t expect all your customers to spend the necessary time and effort to complete a lengthy customer survey or interview. Instead of asking every possible question and exploring all the angles, ask for less feedback more often. This narrows your focus while increasing your response rates. Don’t be afraid to use simple, single-question surveys to gauge your customer’s base feelings on a particular topic.
The fear many companies have when opening the feedback floodgates is getting swamped with requests they either don’t have the time to implement or don’t align with their strategic imperatives. But just because a customer asks for something doesn’t mean you should do it. As long as you provide a "detailed no" instead of merely going radio silent, your customers will know they’ve been heard even if they don’t get their way.
Being customer centric doesn’t mean you can’t be product led as well. Every input you receive should be properly vetted by asking yourself whether it aligns with the product vision and fits current product objectives. If not, then it’s a nice idea but not one you should take action on.
You asked for input, the least you can do is follow up. If someone’s idea makes the cut and lands a coveted position in the roadmap or backlog, tell the folks who offered it how much you appreciate it and that it will eventually be implemented. On the flip side, bad ideas or those that don’t match current strategies and priorities should also be acknowledged—kindly but directly inform the requesting party that their suggestion won’t be acted on and explain why.
If this seems like a lot to remember and a ton of extra work, don’t worry! There are tools for SaaS feedback management that can help with the heavy lifting and make this a seamless part of your routine.
When it comes to product feedback, one source is definitely not enough. Each method for collecting feedback comes with its inherent benefits and drawbacks, so the savvy product manager will utilize a combination of sources and strategies to get a more complete picture of customer satisfaction and requests for improvements.
As a product’s customer base expands and additional functionality is added to the product, leveraging multiple feedback mechanisms is a must. It helps capture input from a broad enough sample size and efficiently scales with the product’s growth.
Should you be focusing on capturing qualitative or quantitative feedback?
Qualitative product feedback could be thought of as “anecdotal”: long-form responses to open-ended questions; findings plucked from trip reports and customer interviews; and detailed, real world use cases offering deep dives into the customer experience. Making assumptions based on qualitative feedback can be dangerous due to their limited sample size and unscientific nature, but they provide helpful color and context.
Quantitative customer feedback powers the pretty charts and graphs of slide decks, the raw data informing KPIs and metrics. Its power lies in the simplicity of its consumption and the large sample size it’s gathered from. For some stakeholders, it may be the only feedback that matters, but each particular question and answer set is often considered in a vacuum, which can sometimes be dangerous.
But this is not a competition! Both types of customer feedback are extremely useful and necessary to guide product decisions and priorities. They complement one another, confirm each other’s assumptions, and together provide a more complete picture. So don’t play favorites and ensure your product feedback mix has a healthy serving of both qualitative and quantitative inputs.
With so many options for gathering input from customers, you can experiment with which combination works for your company, giving you the best assortment of feedback to prioritize your product development:
Data is only useful if you can make sense of it; once aggregated and charted it offers a detailed, visual confirmation of assumptions and revelation of actual user behavior.
Why customer analytics are useful for SaaS: Comparing shifts in this data to changes in the software lets you know exactly how updates are impacting usage, facilitating both experiments and rapid responses to changing metrics.
Get some one-on-one time with a customer, pepper them with questions about their business, how they use the product, their pain points, their hopes and dreams then come back to the office and parse through your notes for nuggets of inspiration.
Why customer interviews are useful for SaaS: Customers can stop using SaaS products at any time, so the more info you have on what they care about, the better experience you can offer, plus you can often delight them with a quick turnaround of low-hanging fruit fixes and tweaks.
Users are given a set of tasks to complete while their behavior is monitored or recorded as they talk their way through the steps they take, providing a running commentary on their observations and decision making.
Why user testing is useful for SaaS: There’s nothing quite as humbling and eye opening as watching users struggle and fumble through the UX you thought was perfect—a usability session exposes tons of opportunities for quick fixes and longer-term areas of need.
Users can provide feedback in the heat of the moment directly from within the application, with the mechanism often capturing the details of the user’s current situation for additional context.
Why in-app feedback widgets are useful for SaaS: Counting on a user to take multiple steps to proactively provide feedback—and accurately remember what they encountered—is a fool’s errand; in-app feedback solicits input while everything is fresh and relevant.
One or more questions for different cohorts to answer and may include a variety of multiple choice, ranking or open-ended questions.
Why customer surveys are useful for SaaS: Surveys give you a broad set of responses to a consistent set of questions, resulting in quantifiable data to power decision making and justify prioritization choices.
Feedback from your customer-facing colleagues, or what we like to call “feedback by proxy” can help you identify problems, craft better solutions, and better understand where your customers struggle.
Why feedback by proxy is useful for SaaS: Saas businesses in particular tend to have many touchpoints with customers, sales, account management, support, and success teams all have frequent conversations with customers. These conversations are prime time for customers to share feedback that can ultimately help you improve your product.
Passive social media feedback is simply scanning the feeds and spotting when customers are talking about you, while active social media feedback comes from posting a question or prompt to see how the masses respond.
Why social media feedback is useful for SaaS: Social media is speedy and cheap, plus people tend to speak their mind more freely on these mediums, making it an excellent way to tap into the industry zeitgeist or gather opinions.
Leverage a standing group of customers that can be tapped for roundtable discussions, interviews, alpha/beta testing, testimonials and more.
Why customer advisory boards are useful for SaaS: Having an “on tap” resource of real customers that are excited to help the product succeed provides a great channel for soliciting feedback on both new features and ideas for the future.