At a Glance
This article is about how to collect user feedback from customers. It also discusses why collecting customer feedback is helpful to an organization.
Why Collect Customer Feedback?
Imagine you have a terrible shower stall. The handle and shower head sit on the opposite wall from the entrance to the shower, and you have short arms!
To turn on the water, you will have to get partially into the shower just to reach the handle, which is directly beneath the shower head. Because you cannot adjust the shower head either, it means that every time you turn on the water for your shower, you get sprayed with a strong blast of cold water across your arms, face, shoulders, neck, and chest.
Every morning, you wish for the power to redesign your shower. You imagine what this shower redesign might look like... and now, you have just conducted a UX research test to find out. So what is UX research?
User Experience (UX) research is the collecting of feedback from users of a product, service, or brand - it is learning about what users want firsthand, and then applying that knowledge to the product or service to better meet customers' needs.
In your shower research, you have tested out the design of a shower and decided the design could better meet customer needs - i.e., not spray you with cold water every time you turn it on. If only you could move the handle to another wall of the shower. Or, if only there was another way for you to enter the shower, perhaps you could avoid the Arctic waters.
We often wish we could tell designers about these kinds of things before a design becomes final - and that is what UX research tries to do. People who collect customer feedback around the user experience are really just asking the following kinds of questions about a product:
- How do you use it?
- How does it make you feel when you use it?
- How would you make it different, to better suit your needs?
The Product Development Lifecycle
Collecting feedback on a product can be done at every stage of a product’s development lifecycle, and there are three distinct phases:
Let’s say, for example, your landlord says you can redesign the shower for everyone that lives in your neighborhood. First, you might begin by interviewing those who live in your neighborhood to find out what they look for in a shower.
- This is the first stage–the learn and empathize stage–where we just want to learn about our customers, or potential customers, and relate to their stories and needs. What is important to the customer about the product? What features do they care about?
- The second stage is the ideate and explore stage. In this stage, let’s say you have some possible designs for the shower ready, and now you can ask customers for their feedback about your design ideas. Here is where you can provide some concrete ideas, and see if you are on the right track to creating a product that meets the needs of your customers. Perhaps you have several concepts, and you want to see which one customers prefer, and why.
- The third stage, execute and improve, is when the product is now ready for use. You have installed your winning shower design into homes, and now that your neighbors are using their shower, they can provide you with feedback on how well it meets their needs (or perhaps, does not). You can find out what they like about the shower in practice, what works, and what they would change if they could. You can take this feedback into consideration when you work on improving this same product for the next version.
Where to Begin?
Here are just a few categories of questions you may wish to ask customers about your product:
- Customer needs and frustrations - here, you can learn about what a customer really wants from a particular product or service, and what frustrates the customer about that product or service as well. You can gain insights into the marketplace for example - which products does a customer purchase in a particular market when they have a tighter budget? Do they purchase those same items from the market when they have a little more money to spare? Why or why not? What product do they wish existed, that they cannot find? These insights can lead you to understand what the marketplace is missing - and how you can fill that gap with your own product or service.
- Customer environment and context - you can learn a lot about a customer’s needs in a product by observing their behavior in the same environment where they use that product. Or, you can learn a lot by seeing that customer interact with the environment itself. Let’s say for example, you want to know if the layout of a grocery store makes it easy for most customers to find the items they need. You can observe a customer going through the store itself, and ask them to find a particular item to observe how easy or difficult it is for them to find that item. These are the kinds of insights and feedback that help with user design, in particular.
- Usability - How easy or difficult is it to use the product? What challenges do they have when it comes to using this product? How would they make this product easier for themselves to use, if they could?
- Validation - You can ask questions to help validate ideas for a product, service, marketing campaign, ad messaging, emailed content, prototype, website design, etc. That way, you know if you are headed in the right direction or not. You can test anything to find out if it resonates with customers, including a prototype of the product itself.
If you want to learn about these kinds of insights from customers, but are unsure of how to put together a test plan, we offer a template library for many kinds of tests. Each individual template comes with a pre-written set of questions and tasks for the customer, that will help you gain insights leading to better-informed business decisions. These templates are editable so that you can tailor them specifically to your needs and your organization. Some examples include:
- Advertisement testing
- Brand perception interview
- Shopping cart abandonment
- Concept validation
- Compare two websites
- Mobile app comparison
- Product adoption
- Prototype evaluation
- Social post engagement
The Needs and Frustrations Discovery Template
The Importance of Collecting Feedback
Why is collecting feedback important? By finding out what customers really need and want, you can tailor your product, organization and/or branding to meet their needs. This will retain the customers you already have, and bring new ones to your company. By building customer satisfaction into your process and workflow, you will save time and money at every step of building, developing, and refining your organization’s products and services.
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