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Gathering Customer Feedback

One of the most complex (and sometimes cumbersome) tasks within scaling a lean startup is to get feedback from your customers. During the early stages when customers are few and far between, this process is easier. Down the line, as you scale, the process can become tricky to manage.

Today, I’d like to run through a few different methods for gathering meaningful customer feedback.

Pounding the pavement

There’s nothing quite like getting out of the building and speaking directly to your customers. Be it in person or over a Skype call or Google Hangout, speaking directly with customers can be invaluable.

During your product purchase or sign up process, be sure to have a way to reach out to your customer after the fact, and be sure this is opt-in. If your customer has indicated they are happy to give feedback, all it takes is a humble request for a call.

Formulating questions

Be sure to spend time working out the questions you’d like to ask. If there is one area you should spend time on, this is it. Ask a few simple questions (not too many) and be sure your questions don’t lead the customer to a specific answer.

An example question comparison would be asking “how does product X make you feel?” instead of “does product X make you feel happy?”. Asking the former opens up a wide range of different possible answers (happy, sad, frustrated, annoyed, overjoyed) while the latter is a yes or no question.

Automation via drip campaigns

If your startup is tech-driven, running a drip campaign is a great way to gather feedback passively. Any kind of email sign up involved in your product will do the trick here. Email your customer to find out their initial feeling and introduce yourself. If there is anything you can do to help, make sure to mention that you’re open to helping them out right in this initial email.

If your startup has a strong tech focus, you could identify target actions the customer should complete. If they haven’t completed certain actions within a specified timeframe, you could follow up with more contextual emails to gather feedback on the process and any pain points they are experiencing.

Be sure to check out Drip, a drip campaign service, for handling this kind of campaign.

Ideas Board

Running an ideas board, on a platform such as UserVoice, is a great way to request feature ideas and improvements for your startup. The community can then vote to help to show you which ideas carry the most weight.

While this option requires some regular maintenance, the pay off is potentially huge, given the community-driven nature of the solution.

Surveys

If you have a specific feature or scenario you’d like to unpack, a customer survey is a great tool for this. While your open rate may not be very high at first, surveys are also a great way to gauge what percentage of your customer base is engaged with your brand.

Running an annual survey is a great way to get your customers involved and used to the idea of filling in surveys for you. Running a competition in line with a survey is also great incentive, yet may result in inaccurate data from customers filling in the survey purely to stand a chance at winning the prize. šŸ™‚

Executive Summary

Regardless of the tools you make use of, if any, the important takeaway here is to gather meaningful feedback, rather than just any old feedback. Engage your customers, spend time asking key questions and make sure you tie each question to a particular data point you’d like to test (for example, “do customers find value in feature X?”).

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