PM Basics: Collecting & Managing Feedback – Everything that can grow your product is inside Feedback. Here’s how to read it.

Product-led growth
February 16, 2023
12 minutes

I heard from Jared Spool (not in person,) that Hyatt Hotels once tried a delightful idea.

Random acts of kindness from the hotel staff – picking up a tab from the bar, offering a complimentary message, and more – at this pricey, top-tier hotel.

So how did the patrons like it?

Well, turns out no delightful experience makes up for the inability to meet customers’ expectations. Despite these delightful experiences being super valuable, the customers didn’t trust the hotel for these surprises. Instead, they chose to trust them for having hot water a few seconds away from the faucet, even if that’s a little unrealistic at a property so huge.

But the lesson is clear. No amount of freebies make up for an experience that does not match expectations.

This problem gets more difficult when you are in a complex industry like Tech. How do you know you’re on track to solving a real problem for your target customer? 

For the most part, answers are piling for you to uncover them. They’re buried in broken tickets from your users, waiting to be made sense of. 

In this piece for PM Basics, I’m delving into how Product Teams can understand feedback from different sources, extract the insights to feed into their Product Strategy, and create scalable solutions with a complete User Feedback Strategy.

Understanding Customer Satisfaction from Feedback

Feedback is the building blocks to a solid product experience where user expectations are met. 

You listen to the early adopters and let them guide the refinement process of your product’s experience. You validate your assumptions as you acquire the early majority. And at this stage, if you can really tune into your users’ needs, you’ve crossed the dreaded chasm and into the product-market fit territory. 

Feedback is the most honest, one-to-one piece of their mind that a user shares. That’s why it is very important for the Product Team to receive it directly from them. You cannot afford to get this valuable data convoluted in the process of hearsay. 

Categorizing Feedback

Before we get into effectively reading feedback to extract its value, I want to discuss a few ways to split it. This will cross the technical jargon, and help us align on a shared understanding of the domains. 

  1. Internal and External Feedback

Feedback from anyone from your organization is internal feedback, and everyone outside is external feedback. Internal feedback relates to how the team feels about the product and vision, while external feedback concerns people's experience with your product.

  1. Solicited and Unsolicited Feedback

When you’ve asked for feedback and received it, it’s solicited. You’ve likely put a process around collecting this feedback. 

If you didn’t ask and receive huge volumes of feedback, it’s perhaps a moment to reflect on how to collect and respond to feedback better, as users feel unheard.

  1. Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback

Feedback collected on a scale that helps quantify it is quantifiable, whereas anecdotal references are full of rich data that might be a lot more insightful. It would, however, need a lot more breaking down, which can rack up if you’re not sure how to quantify feedback data correctly.

Segmenting Feedback (And Why You Must Do It)

Feedback doesn’t come from a place far, far away. It comes from your users, and a Product Team should be, ideally, pretty close to them to avoid loss of context in hearsay. 

Understanding the categories of feedback can help better attribute the due weightage of this feedback.

So these categories wind around each other to create useful segments. But why exactly are these useful? For these reasons:

  1. Prioritize for High versus Low Impact

Not all feedback must be actioned right away. And Business Teams can sometimes push for features that do not align with the product strategy.

Product Teams should remember to use prioritization models to assess how big of a problem they’re solving, not how much revenue a feature could bring from a customer. 

The solutions you build are only as impactful as the problems they solve. And when you have a direct understanding of the problem, it becomes significantly easier to assess if a request is worth adding to the product roadmap.

  1. Prioritize Action/Reaction

As a general rule, unsolicited feedback from internal or external sources will need a quick action/reaction. More importantly, the sooner you close this feedback ticket, the bigger your brownie points will be.

Responding to unsolicited feedback quickly and compassionately reflects your team’s dedication to solving user problems. And all stakeholders, internal or external, will appreciate quick responses here. 

  1. Build the Right User Feedback Strategy

When you lay the foundation for Feedback Management, you will immediately see the areas that need attention. For instance, if you’re an enterprise with a large volume of users, a compounding uptick in bug issues could suggest that you invest in quality assurance and code improvement. This will further help inform your User Feedback Strategy. 

For example, you can deploy fixes like triggering a product survey after fixing persistent bugs. This helps you understand the impact of this activity, while also letting users know that you’re actively monitoring feedback. 

While the trail of Internal Feedback is a bit more winding, the hack is to zone away from the noise.

Internal Feedback helps your product stay aligned with the brand and high-level goals. However, External Feedback has much richer information on how real users interact with the UX you’ve built. 

Letting this crucial data partake in how you piece together the product vision and roadmap is an efficient use of it. 

Building your User Feedback Strategy Playbook

Your User Feedback Strategy is a predefined workflow for dealing with each category of feedback.

The plan should include an immediate response, a plan to close the feedback loop, a strategy for how to take action on the feedback received, and a templatized response to the user. 

Your User Feedback Strategy automates as much of this plan as possible and has the workflow ongoing.

  1. When to Seek Feedback

Every time you launch a new product, or update an existing one with a fresh release, you’ve put something new into the universe. Learning how it is being received, the problems its solving, and how users experience it help you refine it and make it more effective. 

If it is an immediate crowd-pleaser, you may send out a survey immediately. However, if it’s a long process to get to the performance milestone, you should break it into chunks to monitor them separately and send timely feedback inquiries to users.

You should definitely make it a practice to ask for feedback regularly, from internal and external stakeholders. Hence, it makes sense to automate this using tools such as calendar reminders, or automated surveys.

  1. Feedback Collection Methodologies

By making feedback collection a habit, you set your team up for creating successful feedback loops which help refine existing products, and build new features that make them that much more impactful.

The cadence varies based on products, industries, markets, and teams, but you should leverage feedback collection methodologies to constantly stay on the mind of all stakeholders. Remember, they will only share their feedback with you if they feel it is easy and safe. 

That said, there are many ways to collect feedback from users but it is important to pick the right methodology. Based on if you’re looking for qualitative or quantitative feedback, you can pick as per the scale below.

Your user feedback strategy should account for both Qualitative and Quantitative feedback. You’ll need to strike a balance between the two, because while Qualitative feedback will help you with hypothesis validation and prototype building, the Quantitative metrics will clarify if you’ve built the right product.

  1. Building & Scaling Feedback Loops

Once you’ve received feedback, it’s imperative to close the loop by responding to it. Your response should include how you plan on taking action, and if your product offers a different solution to their problem.

Further, it is completely cool to say that a request isn’t a priority or will be picked up later, but you should make it a point to get back to them in due time.

Your strategy should basically account for how you would deal with feedback received from any possible source. Over a period of time, as you get more data and learn better, you should try to templatize and automate the responses.

Think of your User Feedback Strategy as the second half of your onboarding process. Give it the attention due by figuring out every step of the way, automating as much of it as you can, and documenting the personalized aspects.

Scaling Feedback Collection
(Probably the only time you can build the plane as you fly it.)

With the knowledge of what a complete User Feedback Strategy looks like, I hope you will find yourself equipped with the tools you need to build one.

We know hard it is to manage feedback, and how context is lost when information is passed on from person to person. Product Teams come to to leverage a dedicated feedback widget, a white-labeled customer portal, myriad integrations, email support, and more. 


Kirti Suri
Product Marketer
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