What’s the best way to manage customer feedback?

Des Traynor (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom)
5 mistakes we all make with product feedback

Treat every clustering of feedback that you see as a hypothesis, and then don’t build it, verify it. Don’t assume users request the right features: It’s essential to abstract a level or two above what’s requested, into something that makes sense to you, and benefits all your customers.

What’s the best way to manage customer feedback?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Balancing product vision and listening to customers | A Founder’s Notebook

Finding the right mix of vision and listening is hard. It varies over time, and getting it wrong can lead to failure.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The challenge of pitching your app to journalists or VCs | A Founder’s Notebook

One of the situations where your product (such as a mobile app) gets judged by the wrong criteria is when you talk to journalists. For many products, journalists aren’t your target users, so they have limited patience. I found that getting journalists to install our app, including choosing 5 stocks, was tortuous.

Des Traynor (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom)
5 mistakes we all make with product feedback

If you want to improve your onboarding, only listen to people who recently signed up. If you want to improve a feature, only talk to those who use it.

Des Traynor (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom)
5 mistakes we all make with product feedback

Distinguish free from paying feedback. Periodically check in with users.

Des Traynor (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom)
5 mistakes we all make with product feedback

Ask users for feedback on day 30, 60, 120, 365, etc. Sightly more advanced — gather feature specific feedback based on usage.

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
16 product things I learned at Imgur — Medium

Public forums are not a useful way to get feedback, but are a useful way to get buy in from the community. This is true of both online and offline communities.

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
16 product things I learned at Imgur — Medium

Communities are unpredictable. Don’t take the community’s criticism too personally or you’ll become afraid of change and slow. Instead, be open, thoughtful and move quickly.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How to use net promotor score surveys to improve your product | A Founder’s Notebook

Using NPS survey responses has an advantage over mining usage data: the verbatim comments from detractors can tell you what’s missing from your product or what’s wrong with it, whereas usage data can only tell you what’s successful.

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
A Practitioner’s Guide to Net Promoter Score (NPS) | Sachin Rekhi

The most actionable part of the NPS survey is the categorization of the open-ended verbatim comments from promoters & detractors. Each survey we would analyze the promoter comments and categorize each comment into primary promoter benefit categories as well as similarly categorize each detractor comment into primary detractor issue categories.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: We don’t care enough to give you constructive feedback

Most of the time, people won’t bother to give you feedback. But when someone does care enough the ball is in your court. You can react to the feedback by taking it as an attack, deflecting blame, pointing fingers to policy or the CEO. Then you’ve just told me that you don’t care enough to receive the feedback in a useful way. Or you can pass me off to a powerless middleman, a frustrated person who mouths the words but makes it clear that the feed… (read more)

Ben Foster (Currently advising 10+ companies, 16 yrs PM/UX experience, VP Product at Opower, PM at eBay)
What’s the recipe for invention? – PM Rant

Recognize that ideas you hear (as a Product Manager) are typically shorthand for problems and solutions. Usually, with a little abstraction, youll discover some real nuggets.

Eric Ries (Author, The Lean Startup)
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

…the facts that we need to gather about customers, markets, suppliers, and channels exist only “outside the building.” Startups need extensive contact with potential customers to understand them, so get out of your chair and get to know them. The first step in this process is to confirm that your leap-of-faith questions are based in reality, that the customer has a significant problem worth solving. (p.88)

Tristan Pollock (Entrepreneur in Residence and Venture Partner at 500 Startups)
14 Marketplace Mistakes That Are Killing Your Startup | 500 Startups

Buyers are silent judges of your success: treat them well and they’ll spend money, otherwise they’ll just silently disappear.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Massively Multiuser Feedback – AVC

Finding the right balance between listening to your users and becoming hostage to them is hard. When you operate a large and public channel for these users, it is even harder. Being a CEO requires great listening skills, the ability to really hear and internalize opposing views, and then, ultimately, the courage to make the decision and go with it. That is true in terms of managing your team and your company and it is also true in terms of managi… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Watch What They Do, Not What They Say – AVC

Loyal users are always going to hate a big change to a service they use every day. I recall the outrage when Facebook rolled out the news feed, which has become the central feature of its product. It was as if they had destroyed the service.
Users’ actions will tell you what they think about a change more than what they write (on your platform and elsewhere).

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Getting Feedback and Listening To It – AVC

People tell you what they think you want to hear. That you are so smart. That you are so successful. They suck up to you. And it goes to your head. You believe it. I am so smart. I am so successful.
You have to get out of that mindset because it is toxic.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Continuous Feedback – AVC

Companies are using simple web tools to get continuous feedback on their performance. They are using this kind of approach to do performance reviews of everyone in the organization, they are using this kind of approach to get feedback from their customers, and they are using this kind of approach to get feedback from their Board, investors, and advisors. This makes a ton of sense. Startups are rapidly changing systems. If you use an annual review… (read more)

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

If you need continuous innovation like faster horses, listen to your sales team. If you need distruptive innovation like make a car, they won’t tell you that. They’ll mirror what your buyers are telling you.

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

Don’t listen to idiosyncratic feedback, make sure that lot’s of customers want it. Make sure that feedback goes toward the product you have, not the product they want. Be careful not to overindex for the buyer, you need to create value for the end-user.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
When your product change is greeted by a torrent of complaints, what should you do? | A Founder’s Notebook

Its easy to react emotionally to negative feedback. But as Eli Hoffmann (SAs VP Content) points out, a torrent of user complaints shows that people really care about your product.

Jason Lemkin (Managing Director at Storm Ventures, SaaStr.com)
What are the potential dangers in using a Freemium model? – Quora

The less the customer pays, the more feedback they provide, and the less engaged they are (making their feedback worse). The best feedback and least noisy feedback is from your most engaged (and generally most profitable customers). The biggest risk of all is listening to all the wants/wishes/complaints from the free and low-value converts and potential converts.

Des Traynor (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom)
5 mistakes we all make with product feedback

Treat every clustering of feedback that you see as a hypothesis, and then don’t build it, verify it. Don’t assume users request the right features: It’s essential to abstract a level or two above what’s requested, into something that makes sense to you, and benefits all your customers.

Eran Aloni (Head of Products at EchoSign)
Feedback versus vision in product management | A Founder’s Notebook

The trick is finding the point where feedback merits changing course. Small changes are usually easy to digest and act on, but acknowledging that key parts of your vision are flawed and that so much energy and effort are about to go down the drain goes against our nature and our inherent tendency to stay on course and reach our goal, even it’s no longer the right goal.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Survata – AVC

We’ve been using a tool at USV recently that I like. It is called Survata and it allows to you to create a survey and then target it at whatever number of completes you want. You can target it to respondents in 17 countries “by age, gender, geography, and custom attributes.” It is helpful for us to get a sense of what is going on in a market quickly. We generally go for thousands of completes and we get results within three to seven days. We have… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Use Social Sharing Platforms Like A Panel – AVC

You can turn your followers on social sharing platforms into a panel that will allow you to understand them and connect with them better.