In today’s digital age, one of the biggest goals of a business is to constantly improve and retain more of its customers. One of the most effective ways to do this is by gathering feedback from their users. User feedback provides valuable insights into the needs, preferences, and expectations of your customers, helping you to make informed decisions about your business. Whether you’re a small startup or a large corporation, user feedback can help you identify areas for improvement, develop new products and features, and build stronger relationships with your customers.
There has been a high success rate in prompting user feedback in marketplaces like Uber, AirBnb, and e-commerce stores like Amazon and Jumia. Many users attribute their choice of a product on Amazon or an apartment on Airbnb to its reviews; the higher, the more likely choice.
Despite feedback being super important for any business, one of the biggest hurdles faced by anyone building products is feedback; getting enough of it, and organising it in a way that can give important insights. I would attribute this challenge to one thing; design.
Many people building products put a lot of focus on developing the core of the product, so feedback or ratings mostly come as an afterthought. Post-launch, when the metrics indicating performance are needed, that’s when most of us scramble to add floating rating surveys or send out an NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey via emails. I am personally a victim(or villain in this case) of this too, and I have seen it play out multiple times. So the question here is, how do we intentionally design for receiving feedback? The best place to learn this would be from understanding our audience itself. Let’s dive in.
Understanding User Behaviour
The starting point of any design journey is understanding the users. Who they are, what motivates them, challenges they face while trying to perform a certain task, what they value the most, etc. In my case, I sought to understand what informs a user’s decision to give feedback, exploring products that have a high success rate.
I mainly did this through a few user interviews and desk research. Though my research was limited, I was able to garner feedback that started forming the shape of what the underlying issues could be. This led to the define stage to analyze the feedback.
Defining the problem
The second stage of the design process is defining the problem; analyzing research outcomes to notice patterns, themes, and commonly highlighted items. Through the research stage, certain themes and patterns kept popping up, and these were the leading indicators of the underlying issues of giving and receiving feedback. They include the following:
The timing of the feedback request is a big factor in both the type of feedback given, and whether the feedback is given at all. Some of the users I talked to had this to say:
“Sometimes I haven’t gotten value from the product yet; I downloaded it two minutes ago, so when asked what I think about the product I would of course ignore the prompt.”
“l normally rate my drivers after I use Uber because they ask for feedback just after a trip is complete. That’s a perfect time because I have just experienced the product if it makes sense. If they asked it earlier or later it wouldn’t make sense and I probably wouldn’t fill it in.”
Other sentiments that came through were that sometimes feedback was requested while they were using the core function of the product. For example, asking for feedback while a user is filling in their financial report might not be the best strategy; their priority is set at that moment.
At Slade360, we understand the importance of gathering comprehensive feedback from our users. To ensure that our users have sufficient time to fully experience our product before providing their valuable insights, we conduct monthly surveys. We recognize that our users lead busy lives, and we respect their time by limiting the frequency of surveys. Our aim is to strike a balance between gathering essential feedback and not overwhelming our users with excessive requests, as we want the feedback process to be a seamless experience rather than an additional burden.
Through user conversations, it was quite clear that many of them rated products and services that needed feedback, or that could be used by other users for similar experiences. Here are some of the sentiments raised:
“I normally rate products I buy online, especially if they are not as expected, to ensure other people don’t fall into the trap”
“Cab services are very sensitive because they involve someone’s safety and I always check the driver reviews before I choose one. Therefore I always rate my drivers to inform others about them.”
“I think products like Twitter and Instagram don’t really need my feedback, they are already established”
It was clear that many users valued knowing how their feedback would be used, and the visibility of feedback given by others, and this would, in turn, prompt them to give feedback for the same reason.
c. The experience of the feedback process
The format and the user experience of giving feedback were other factors that came up quite often. This included the channels used for feedback, to how easy it is to give the feedback. These are the sentiments raised:
“I once went to a restaurant and the manager requested us to visit their Instagram account and leave a nice comment. We genuinely had a good time there but that would just be a lot of work. We could easily tell them while we were there.”
“I rarely fill out post-webinar surveys because I have to click on the link, then within it, I have to answer so many questions. That’s very time-consuming”
Just like any product, it was clear that users wanted a way to easily give the feedback they had. Some of the methods used by businesses to receive feedback added friction to this process.
To minimize friction and enhance the convenience of providing feedback, we have implemented a non-intrusive pop-up feature at Slade360. Unlike traditional methods that limit users to a specific time frame, our pop-up allows users to share their feedback at any time they feel most comfortable. By removing time restrictions, we empower our users to express their thoughts and opinions spontaneously, ensuring that their feedback is not constrained by the timing of the pop-up. This approach prioritizes user convenience and encourages a seamless feedback experience, ultimately resulting in more comprehensive and timely insights for our team.
Beyond the above-listed issues, others such as rapport with the product came up, where users would rate products they wanted to succeed, and many others. Through the research output, it was then a good place to start thinking of possible solutions to the highlighted challenges.
Ideation: Strategies for Encouraging More Feedback
The third stage of the design process is ideation, where we formulate ideas against the identified challenges and problems. I sought to discover how companies can best design for prompting user feedback, not focusing on any particular type of business. Here are a couple of these ideas:
a. Better design
A good design is seamless and one that users don’t struggle to use. A big step to prompting more user feedback is by ensuring the feedback process is seamless. Some of the tips here include:
Using metric-based feedback systems such as a 5-star system for quick input.
Choose to embed a survey in an email vs a redirect link. A user will be able to give feedback directly on the email.
Adding design elements such as gamification to the feedback process to make it more enjoyable for the user.
One of the cited reasons for not giving feedback is a lack of motivation to do so. One way a business could counter this is through the use of incentives. Some platforms such as Figma offer gift cards to users who give feedback, while others give users points they can redeem in the process of using the application.
Other ways to do this can be:
Giving premium experiences to users who give feedback often, for example, VIP access, or dedicated service.
Giving points that can accumulate into a free t-shirt, coffee or service
Discount on a threshold of the feedback given.
Incentives are a good way to motivate users to give feedback and to build it into their culture while using the product.
Following up on the fact that many users consider reviews before trying a new product or business, it's important to allow the users to have visibility of feedback given. This should also include follow-up about the feedback given, especially when negative. When users see that feedback is acted upon, then they will be encouraged to give their input.
Users often forget when asked about feedback because of their busy lives, so nudging them for feedback post-visit can be a good strategy to prompt feedback. Platforms such as AirBnb leverage nudges to remind users of feedback. These are sent by email and hyperlinked to the exact place where feedback can be given. Another creative strategy used by Airbnb is that you are given a few days to give a review. Making the feedback process time-bound will imply urgency and users will be motivated to give it early.
It is however important to remember not to bombard the user with too many nudges as this might have the opposite effect and cause a bad user experience.
The next steps of the design journey involve prototyping and testing, and this is where I hand it over to you, reader. Depending on the type of business and product you have, you can pick any of the outlined strategies to quickly prototype and validate to discover what could work best.
This could for example involve trying out incentives for a while, tracking the metrics to discover how well they are doing, and picking another strategy till one stands out to the audience.
In conclusion, user feedback is an essential component of any successful business or organization. By actively exploring how to receive this feedback better and learning from your users, you can receive more feedback and build stronger relationships with your customers and develop products and services that truly meet their needs.