The Art Of Gathering Feedback: Seven Tips For Making It Count

By January 17, 2019February 2nd, 2024No Comments

Today we’ll tackle a trend that’s not only growing in startups, but also in corporate product development. Early and easy customer feedback to test your assumptions is now common practice. But simply deciding to gather feedback it doesn’t automatically mean useful results. Going about it the wrong way can easily eat up time, or even lead you on the wrong track. A feedback strategy isn’t an easy thing to execute, which is why we’ve put together a few key concepts for getting information that you can really use.

Simply approaching someone and asking them for generic feedback won’t cut it. Whenever you want to get input, be it for your startup, or for ideas within a bigger corporation, I would advise you to keep the following principles in mind.

Feature ≠ Benefit

When somebody tells you ‘Your product should be able to do XYZ,’ this is where you have to be cautious. Always try to find out what they actually want that capability to achieve. Try to get ‘beyond the feature’ and ask yourself and the other person what the ultimate benefit would be. What are they looking to get out of it?

Be curious

This is closely aligned to the previous point. Be curious, and use the word ‘why’ a lot with your feedback subjects. ‘Why do you want to be able to do that? Why is that important? Why is this more important than that?’ Curiosity can clarify uncertainties and let you dive deeper into a problem. It also reveals the real pain points and fosters a conversation where the person who gives feedback talks and you listen carefully.

Let them talk

Just like a good sales conversation, a feedback talk’s distribution should be about 80/20 – and it’s you that gets the 20% share in talking time! In order to find out what people expect from your product or service, you have to listen. A feedback talk doesn’t begin with a 30-minute pitch of your super-awesome product.To have a good conversation it’s also important how you phrase your questions. You don’t want them to steer your subject in a certain direction or even influence answers. I strongly recommend investing a couple of minutes in watching The Mom Test. This video gives some great insights into steering conversations.

Look For The True Meaning

Confucius said: “When a wise man points at the moon, the fool examines the finger.” Try to see beyond what the person tells you. What they’re really looking for is often hidden behind really generic-sounding claims. Don’t discard what they’re saying, but rather notice what they’re pointing at. Customers might not have predicted the iPhone for Apple, but you can be sure this phone ultimately arose from someone’s (possibly subconscious) desire to be connected on the go. The input came from somewhere, but perhaps it was only obvious to someone like Steve Jobs.

Empathy is key

Transforming feedback into prototypes is important when it comes to testing assumptions. One key aspect of prototyping – and therefore to getting the best feedback – is empathy. Try to get yourself in the shoes of the tester. What do they really think? How do they feel about it? At the end of the day, you’re not the one using the product. During interviews, try to understand their way of thinking in this specific situation.

You are biased

When interviewing, one of the most important factors to remember is that you’re way more familiar with your product or service – and therefore also with the thought processes – then the person you’re talking with. What might be the most logical thing in the world for you, might not be for them. The language, components, use cases and everything else is basically unfamiliar to them, so they have to figure things out. Start simple and rather question if your product is easy enough, instead of assuming that all of your interviewees are stupid!

Context is important

Lastly, putting things in a context people are familiar with helps them understand a product better. So if you show them your prototype or idea, use the scenarios they’re currently in, use their own data or relate it to things they like doing.

Looking at those tips, you might think that most of it goes without saying, right? Some of them might seem really simple points, but remembering and using them right when you need them is the complicated part. Using and working with this list before and in between feedback loops will help you to get more out of each one.

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