How to correctly collect feedback for your product or service

Rafat Abushaban

- Articles and Thoughts #  O 6.9K views   اقرأ بالعربية

Before, during, and after the launch of any product or service, Feedback is often collected and considered as a tool to improve production and hear what customers have to say. Feedback lies at the center of the Validation process, by which a vendor can ensure that the products and services offered are meeting customer expectations, failing, or exceeding them.

Feedback collection can be as simple as filling a survey, or as complex as a customer care center altogether. So where exactly does your startup idea lie?

Below are five points to consider.

Who to collect feedback from?

The first step is to select who to collect feedback from. Identifying potential customers who might be interested in using your product or service is critical. You might want to develop a customer profile or Avatar and approach those who resemble its characteristics. A per-requisite is to identify your target avatar before conducting such collection.

Try to avoid collecting feedback from relatives and close friends who might be biased in their opinions, also avoid those who don't have enough information on the subject as their opinion will likely unbalance the feedback process.

Collecting feedback

How to collect feedback?

Feedback in its simplest form is a series of questions and answers to get the (potential) customer's opinion on a given product or service.

To exacerbate the value gained from this process, a good mix of open-ended questions and simple like/dislike questions can prove beneficial. the more descriptive (qualitative) the collected data is, the better.

Be smart with your survey: keep it short and simple, yet informative and critical. You can do this by asking questions that provide critical answers to useful data, and avoid redundant questions. For example, instead of asking the customer "Was the product to your liking" and "Was the product useful", you can use a Likert scale (five answers ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree) and ask: "How satisfied were you with product performance".

What to collect feedback with?

Today, the easiest method to collect feedback is using online surveys or automated chat-bots. For emerging startups, there is plenty of options available to choose from, such as:

  • Google Forms is an easy to use and free tool from Google that is not advertised as a "survey" tool in particular, but it is often used by startups and entrepreneurs for its ease of use. It requires that you have a Gmail account to use it.
  • Survey Monkey is another tools that is a dedicated survey collection platform that is often used by researchers and entrepreneurs. Survey Monkey is free, but has a paid version upgrade with a number of additional features.
  • Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, offer survey collection features and it is often used for its ease of use and wide reach. Using such a mechanism is free given that you have an account on the platform, but with boosting this survey as an ad, you can get a lot more responses. A concern here is that data offered from such surveys is limited, so it may give an idea for budding entrepreneurs on the direction they need, but more advanced experienced entrepreneurs may consider alternative tools in conjunction.

Also before starting, try and see what other businesses and organizations do and ask for in their survey. You may discover areas that you have missed or would love to learn about.

Shadow Testing

Shadow Testing is a technique used by entrepreneurs to test the waters before going all-in with their production. Shadow testing is allowing access for an early version of the product or service to a certain closed group of customers so that the producing business can learn more about their product in the hands of customers before actually dropping it to the mass market. This is done as real customers are always different from what is planned or sought, so conducting shadow testing allows the collection of real-life feedback data to pinpoint how the product is performing, is the price acceptable to customers, and ultimately if they are liking it. This minimizes the risk of going all-in to the market without a mature product ready and tested. See 5 reasons why you should delay monetization to learn more.

If you have ever pre-ordered a book, a gadget, or a computer game then you have been targeted with Shadow testing before. Crowdfunding is a good example that utilizes this strategy. Websites like Indiegogo, Gofundme, among others allow entrepreneurs test out their products and in the same time gain an audience using their platform.

Use it, don't let it dictate what to do

Often times you will be surprised on how people react to new products and services. Their opinions may vary and so is the feedback collected. When analyzing the feedback answers, don't feel that you have to address each and every issue there is, but rather use these opinions to help guide you and inform your decision for your next move. Henry Ford is known to have said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses ”.

Rafat Abushaban

Founder of Riable and consultant to several international organizations in entrepreneurship education and researcher in innovation systems and seed funding methods with 10+ years of practical experience in the MENA region, Europe, US and S.Korea
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