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No matter which stage you are in your maker career, feedback from your users (during the idea phase) and customers (during the monetization phase) is super critical. Having worked at companies big and small to making my own products and services, I’ve seen how customer feedback is used to define product features, marketing campaigns, and even company vision and goals.

These days, there are so many tools you can use to collect feedback such as installing a chat bot on your site. Sometimes, sending an e-mail and requesting the feedback directly from an early user of your product is the best way to go. From there, you can schedule an interview and maybe do some user testing.

Incoming customer feedback

If you are past the idea and concept stage of your product or service, chances are you have some users e-mailing you directly about features they want to see, bugs in the product, or maybe they just want to give you praise for building an awesome product. You really have done something special when someone takes time out of their day and says to you: “Coming here is always the best part of my day.” If that doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies, I don’t know what does.

Over time, you’ll get more and more messages, and you have to create a process for classifying the feedback so that you properly address all the “tickets” coming in. Bugs are obviously the main priority since you want to make sure your users are able to use your product. Then you have all the product features which are super helpful because these are your early users who can help you define your product roadmap. If you consistently see users every day saying they want feature X in your product, chances are you should prioritize building that over the crazy AI-blockchain-VR integration you’ve always wanted to build.

Then there is another type of customer feedback that is generally overlooked. If you don’t feel like this feedback is important for your company, or work at a company where feedback is not baked into the culture, the next section may change your beliefs. I call this the “how do I” feedback. Why? Because the ticket generally starts withs a “how do I” and ends with “do XYZ in your product?” These questions may seem simple and innocent, but I think this is some of the most powerful feedback you can receive as a founder who is also doing your own customer support (or has a small team helping with customer support). Here’s why.

Asking for customer feedback

Even though the “how do I” questions are not asking for feedback directly, you should still ask for it. When I was working on my own startup and had a few thousands users, we would get 25-50 tickets a day and many of them were “how do I” questions. This was an indication our platform wasn’t intuitive enough to use and the user experience needed improvement, but that’s a topic for another day. In the back of my mind, my goal was to quickly 1) answer the question and 2) close the ticket. We’ve all seen how quick turnaround time on customer service questions can dramatically improve customer experience (e.g. companies moving to Twitter to respond to questions and feedback).

I’ve realized that this mentality is not right. Yes, reducing the turnaround time is key, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for feedback.

Your early users of your product that give you feedback are obviously going to be your biggest fans and may even evangelize your product to their friends. They’re also the ones sending you the bugs. The users who are asking you “how do I” questions are more important as your user base grows. Why?

These users are kicking the tires, comparing you to your competitors, and seeing if they should go all in WITH your product.

Instead of just answering their questions and closing the ticket, ask questions like:

  • “Why are you trying to do XYZ in the product?”
  • “What use case does doing XYZ in the product solve for you?”
  • “Why weren’t you able to do XYZ in the product?”

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the answers you’ll get since these are the users who are on the fence about your product, and will most likely give you really honest feedback about how they discovered your product and how they thought the produ

Finding the “How Do I” users

Just because people aren’t e-mailing you or chatting with you directly with questions, doesn’t mean you can’t find these users elsewhere. For instance, you may be able to find people asking questions about your product on YouTube, and they generally leave the most honest reviews when they are asking questions. Other places to look potential users asking questions:

  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • Google

In general, I would put query that looks like this “how do you” + [product name]. Keeping the “how do you” in quotes means you can get that exact phrase match when searching these various forums for the “how do I” questions.

Whatever process you have in place for collecting feedback, assigning action items, or conducting customer interviews, I would incorporate the “how do I” users into that process. I find that interviewing these users leads to more insight about their decision-making process and can give you more insight into how they stack you against your competitors. In terms of logging this information, use a standard meeting template for logging all the user interviews, feedback, and action items. If you are using a messaging platform like Intercom, I would tag these users so that you know they did not provide explicit feedback or praise, but rather just had a general question about your product.

Insights from your users

I’d be curious to hear about users you’ve interviewed or talked to that asked you “how do I” questions and you found interesting insights from them. At Coda, these users are some of the most engaging and thought-provoking users I talk to since they are looking at the whole landscape of no-code tools and trying to figure out what’s right for them. If you have any insights to share, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or leave feedback on our site :).

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