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    How customer feedback helps us build better products

    At Vision6, we follow the jobs-to-be-done theory. Taking this approach means that everything we build is to help our customers achieve a goal. Back in 2002, when we operated out of our founder’s living room, Vision6 helped businesses to increase the amount of people viewing their content by using email. Our product (and premises) has evolved significantly since then, but with every iteration, we’ve relied on customer feedback to make sure we are on the right track.

    Collecting feedback is easy – knowing what to do with it is another story. So I had a chat with our Chief Customer Officer, Jonathan Tobin, and Project Manager, Matthew Johnson, to learn more.

    What are some of the ways that we collect feedback at Vision6?

    There are six main methods that we use to collect customer feedback:

    • online reviews
    • in product
    • on our website
    • in email surveys
    • using analytics software
    • direct conversation

    They each have their own strengths and by using all of them at key points across the customer journey we get a really clear picture of the customer’s experience.

    Online reviews

    Online reviews are great for two reasons. There is the PR/SEO aspect that deals with how easily potential customers can find Vision6 online and whether other people have found the service useful. The other aspect is getting feedback honestly and directly from customers, voluntarily and in their own words.

    Make sure you have alerts set up so you are aware of reviews as soon as they are published and it’s a good idea to have a policy in place for dealing with both positive and negative reviews. For example, a personal thanks to positive reviewers where appropriate.

    For negative reviews, it is important to try to resolve the issue directly if you can identify who the reviewer is. Once the issue is resolved, you could ask that they remove the review as it is no longer applicable. If the issue cannot be resolved and they aren’t willing to remove the review, don’t worry! A list of 100% positive reviews looks a little suspicious anyway. Just write a public response that is polite and notes your plans to resolve the issue.

    There are plenty of review platforms and the ones that suit you best will depend on your industry. The review platforms that we monitor include Google Business, Facebook, G2 Crowd, and Capterra. If you’ve had a great interaction with a customer recently, it’s worth asking them if they’d like to publish a review.

    In-product

    Some of our customers take part in an Early Access program where they can use new product features ahead of the public in exchange for feedback. We have also started using a tool called Userback that allows our customers to rate the pages they’re on and notify us of any bugs with screenshots and comments.

    In addition to receiving customer feedback in real time, Userback aims to improve internal collaboration across product stakeholders such as marketing and software development teams. There are some great in-app feedback tools on the market but it depends on the needs of your business. Our research shortlist included Userback, Usabilla, UserSnap and TrackDuck.

    Website

    A great way to collect feedback on your website is through Live Chat. With Zendesk, our Customer Success team can provide live support to website visitors and easily manage support tickets. It allows us to create pop-up questions to help website visitors when they complete a particular action and also includes a rating system, so customers can let us know how satisfied they are at the end of each interaction.

    Email

    One of the best ways to collect feedback using email is with simple surveys. We use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) framework to calculate our customer’s happiness at intervals throughout the year. We also conduct more detailed surveys for specific projects that we are working on such as product development or improvements in customer service.

    Inviting customers to respond to onboarding emails are another way to better understand their needs. For example, your email recipients could be segmented into trial and paid customers. Identify barriers to becoming a paid customer by asking trial customers why they haven’t upgraded yet. Ask paid customers why they chose to upgrade and nurture the relationship by asking what they would like to see in the future. It’s important to manage expectations here so your customers understand that not all improvements can happen overnight, but their feedback is important and they will be kept in the loop as projects are completed.

    Analytics programs

    Absolutely. Analytics tools like Mixpanel give a deeper understanding of how customers use and derive value from our product. Surveys might tell us what customers say they’re going to do; Mixpanel tells us what customers actually do. This is extremely useful information as it helps us validate and prioritise how we go about improving our product.

    A recent example in our product development team is our contact import update. Currently, there are multiple ways to add contacts. Using Mixpanel, we’re able to understand which way is the most popular and how long each way typically takes to complete. With that knowledge, we can make better decisions in terms of what to prioritise in the new workflow we create for adding contacts. Back to the jobs-to-be-done theory, everything we do helps customers to complete a job better and faster than anyone else. Mixpanel helps us conduct customer research as well as measure our success.

    Google Analytics is another great (and free!) tool that everyone with a website should be using. It provides high level insight into website activity such as pageviews, events, traffic sources and campaign performance. Mixpanel drills down far deeper into specific customer activity but each analytics tool has its benefits. Interestingly, Google Analytics is starting to focus a little more on specific user activity, but it can be tricky with restrictions on privacy and data collection.

    Direct conversation

    Our Customer Success team are always speaking to customers on the phone, by email, through live chat, during webinars and in person. Every interaction is an opportunity to listen and respond to our customers’ needs whether it’s a quick bug fix or a bigger project for us to consider. This applies for businesses in any industry. Again, managing expectations for when and if a project is feasible is really important, as is keeping the communication lines open so they are included in the process as much as possible.

    Including your customers in how your business innovates and grows is essential. By collecting customer feedback at every opportunity and following the jobs-to-be-done framework, we are making sure that everything we build is solving a genuine problem.

    Megan Johnstone
    Author

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