closing the customer feedback loop

Closing the Customer Feedback Loop to Improve your SaaS Product

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Spencer Coon
May 19, 2021 | Last Updated Jun 25, 2021

Even if you haven’t watched Disney’s The Lion King (1994), I would be surprised if you haven’t heard about “the circle of life” 🌅. That ecological metaphor about death and rebirth suits very well to illustrate how many systems work in cycles that are sustained by necessary steps in balance. It also implies that even the most somber parts of such processes may be important to produce something new, good, and alive.

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The product feedback loop is not that different. It’s the continuous cycle of collecting customer experiences (good and bad) to improve a product. Both positive and negative opinions are used to correct course and make a better product. Then it’s done all over again! 🔁

Feedback can boost your sales and engagement and even can improve your brand experience. In this article, I’ll tackle different ways of collecting user feedback, how to analyze it, and how to create that loop necessary for constant product improvement, “In the circle… The Circle of (Product) Lifeeeeeee!”

 

Here are the steps to improve your product by closing your customer feedback loop

1. Gather feedback

2. Centralize and analyze feedback

3. Close the loop

            a)- Prioritize your approach

            b)- Communicate product changes effectively

customer feedback loop

Gather feedback

The first step to start a feedback loop is (obviously!) to gather feedback, but not any feedback. You need to gather enough data for it to be relevant to your process and do it in a way that allows you to analyze it properly. Starting with insufficient data or irrelevant information may give you the wrong idea of how to improve your product, resulting in really bad decisions. Choose a big enough sample, and gather the optimal feedback to have the power to choose with all the cards on the table! 🃏

 

There is a wide array of methods to gather useful feedback loops. In the current social media environment, we may be most familiar with comments, interactions, and reactions. All of these techniques present useful insights, and some drawbacks to consider.

For example, having limited comments by trusted customers could be very enriching to improve some of your features, but maybe won’t address the needs of your broader user base. While metrics like product usage can faithfully tell your users’ habits and level of engagement, they won’t tell you necessarily why.

 

customer feedback

Let’s talk about some methods with their pros and cons:

  • Many comment sections are usually described as lawless hellscapes (I’m talking about you, YouTube), but there’s great value in getting feedback directly in the words of your users and customers. With little effort, you can receive honest feedback with the drawback that you’ll have to filter the noise to find useful and constructive opinions to add to your feedback loop.
  • Reactions and interactions (like “likes”, views, ratings, time spent, and clicks) can measure user engagement and are easy to collect. You can use these numbers for smart data-driven improvements but by themselves won’t deliver the full picture unless you have some context.
  • Customer satisfaction surveys will allow you to focus on chosen topics and request specific information. As there are many survey types, from the comprehensive long ones to the short punchy ones, you’ll have a broad variety of options. But you will always depend on your users’ disposition to take some time to answer. Your feedback loop can’t stay idle while you wait for someone to answer your survey.
  • More hands-on approaches like on-site executives, mystery shoppers, usability studies, and full customer interviews can give you a trustworthy in-depth picture. But all these efforts are limited by budget constraints, team size, and probably won’t be possible to sustain in the long term. At least not for a small SaaS.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) combines straight-forward ratings (users are prompted to quantify their enthusiasm with a score from 1 to 10) with follow-up questions and the ability to track potential promoters or change the mind of your detractors.
  • Social media posts can also be useful to find potential promoters, search for common complaints, or follow trends. People are very vocal on social media, so it will certainly require some effort to track and follow these conversations and translate them into useful feedback loop data.
  • Support chats are not just useful to solve specific problems and bugs, but also a way to gather feedback directly from the user. Many chat tools can be combined with exit surveys that increase the data gathered for your loop.
  • The same goes for in-app announcements that can prop you users to show their enthusiasm or criticism of your new content and features.

 

It’s important to consider tools for both direct feedback, like any channel where user input is needed like comments and reactions, and indirect feedback where user engagement is tracked backstage like heatmaps and product usage metrics. What I want to illustrate is that none of them alone can solve all your feedback-gathering needs! You need to combine strategies to avoid any blind spots. 

metrics

Some studies say that 85% of people are likely to provide feedback when they have had a good experience and 81% when they’ve had a bad one. They are already on board with giving you their opinions! So your task will be to provide them with multiple channels to do so and to filter all that information to make it work for you.

 

Centralize and analyze feedback

So far, I have proposed that the more feedback you gather, and the more channels you open, the more data you’ll have to work with. And that’s a good thing! But also it’s a daring task, especially for smaller teams and companies.

So, what’s the best way to process all that information? Well, you need to create what some have called “feedback storage”. A place where all the information gathered can be analyzed and then used to form your customer feedback loop.

centralize customer feedback

So how does the optimal feedback storage look like? Let me share with you some of the tricks we have learned on the way to analyze feedback and use it in our advantage:

  • Learn how to parse the data you gather correctly. Unless users reply to a straight-forward survey, you may have to analyze their messages and inputs to find the information you need to detect exactly what your users love from your product and what needs improvement.
  • Focus on genuine and valuable feedback from users. Don’t obsess over the bad comments, and not just read a few praises and get overconfident. Both bad and good feedback can help improve your product.
  • Sometimes a bad score is a user not understanding your product. For example, if you get a bad comment or a low NPS score due to a lack of features in a free plan, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a great product. It may mean though that you haven’t explained well what is included in each plan or tier.
  • Consider that cultural and regional differences may apply to provide feedback. That’s why it’s useful to have a dashboard with the ability to segment results and metrics so you can respond to each user in their own language and minding their background and context. Also the data and metrics may help you identify regional or local trends that can be used to further personalize the user experience.

For all of these tricks we use our own product. Beamer is our “feedback storage” where all our comments, reactions, NPS scores, and user metrics get analyzed. We use Beamer to filter, organize and segment that information, to respond directly to users and to do that in their own language. We also use the analytics tools to track patterns and find better data-driven solutions to improve our tool. That is a cornerstone of our development process!

Respond to comments

 

Closing the loop

Remember that the process I have been describing is a circle (of life 🦁), so it must be closed to work at all. After you have gathered the feedback, stored it, and analyzed it, you have to do something about it!

Step 1: Prioritize your approach 

You’ll need to identify what of all the information received can be useful to improve your product, and to prioritize what will be the optimal approach to do so. So what’s the best step to take next? Bug fixing? New developments? UX? Feature changes? Your first instinct may be to tackle all issues at once. Even if you have a team large enough for that, is that the most efficient approach?

Remember that in a feedback loop you have users waiting for improvements. Trying to solve everything at the same time may delay the changes necessary to re-engage your detractors and lose them definitively. Prioritize!!!

For example, you can focus on the most requested new features or the most reported bugs. You can track the most vocal, enthusiastic, or influential of your users and try to solve their concerns first to showcase your efforts to the community. Or you can tackle your detractors first to change their minds as soon as possible.

You can even set expectations about what you are working on by using roadmaps or newsfeeds to keep them informed through the entire process. And even gather extra feedback on the way by letting them vote or propose what they are aching to see you improve next.

Users want to participate in the loop! The data shows that just in social media, 60% of the customers who complain expect a response within an hour, that not responding can increase churn by 15% and that answering to them may increase advocacy by as much as 25%.

 

Closing the loop means applying what you have learned through feedback, to drive product development. New features, bug fixes, and UX improvements can all be derived from this process. And not just that, it can also help you improve the ways you gather feedback itself.

Even though it may be tempting to give your users everything they want, always keep in mind that any change you implement based on your feedback loop must make sense. That means it must be cost efficient, you can’t sink your full team and resources to tackle an issue that won’t give you revenue back.

 

It also needs to make sense in your product’s overall strategy. You can’t leave your entire strategy behind just because a group of users expected something different. Make sure to measure cost and benefit correctly before embarking on any significant changes. Your feedback should be a guide for your development process, not a mindless race to appease any dissenting voice it appears!

 

Step 2: Communicate product changes effectively

Once you have implemented your changes, based on the feedback received, is time to communicate them effectively! The feedback loop will only work if your users and customers are aware of what you have been working on.

There are different methods to communicate changes. For example, you can respond to comments, messages, and reviews directly. Some data suggest that seven out of ten consumers changed their mind about a brand after the company replied to a review. Other less direct methods include development blogs and social media posts.

Communicate product changes

But one of the most effective and versatile ways to inform users and push feature discovery is through changelogs, release notes, and newsfeeds. A changelog is the most effective way to keep users and visitors updated in all sorts of improvements. From new versions of your product to small and periodical bug fixes.

A single place where all updates can be quickly consulted, archived, searched, and promoted. And in some cases, it can also help you gather additional feedback, right there!

Think of Beamer. Beamer can help you cover many of the steps necessary for a good customer feedback loop. You can use Beamer to embed a changelog or newsfeed directly in your product, app or site, to keep your users in the know. There, your customers can react and comment on your new features, feeding back the loop.

changelog to close the feeback loop

All that information and interactions are compiled in a single dashboard, with analytics and the possibility to respond directly to your commenters. You can even send them emails, push notifications, segment your audience and curate the specific news, to target every announcement and get the best reactions.

Beamer also has an NPS feature that will let you easily embed a survey, measure the enthusiasm of your users, identify promoters and change the mind of your detractors in no time. Everything in a single tool that will supercharge your feedback loop while making it smoother and easier to use. 

NPS for feedback loop

Creating a feedback loop is an excellent way to keep your product development focused, based on reality, and always working. But for that to work you’ll need to learn how to close the loop. Just then you’ll improve your user engagement, reduce churn and take your product to the next level. Constantly improving and growing.

If you’re looking for a tool that can help you create a feedback loop, look no further. Beamer can help you gather feedback with comments, reactions, user analytics and NPS. It can also serve as your feedback storage or hub. All your feedback in a single place, ready to be analyzed and used to fix issues and to respond to users to keep them updated and engaged. For all of that and more, try Beamer for free today.