Every product manager knows that user feedback is the cornerstone by which you can measure the actual benefit and success of your product or service in your chosen market.
User surveys are a great tool to gather user feedback because they:
- Give you the opportunity to determine your users' goals, needs, opinions, and abilities
- Provide excellent customer insights
- Are cost-effective and scalable.
- Provide you with the data to test your hypotheses about your customer and product.
Done correctly, a user survey gives you the opportunity to improve customer experience, retention, and lifetime value. At UserVitals, we'll explore what goes into an effective user survey, with specific examples of what works best to get actionable product feedback.
What Is The Problem That You’re Trying to Solve?
Decide exactly what information you want to get from your survey. Creating a survey without a clear problem you're trying to solve will result in a cluttered structure and frustration for survey takers.
It's important that your survey provides actionable insights. Put the hypotheses you want to test at the center of the survey and make sure every question asked serves the purpose of proving or disproving that hypothesis.
When you see this survey below from Blue Bottle Coffee, it tells the user that they are taking it to get their coffee recommendations. Each answer to each question is a possible solution to the problem of "Which coffee best suits the customer's taste?"
The questions asked and thus answers given correspond to specific products from the range of Blue Bottle Coffee.
Limit the number of solutions you suggest to your users to solve their problem.
Keep the focus of the survey short and sweet. Any additional action or question you include in your survey will cause users to drop out. Research from SurveyMonkey shows that surveys longer than 7-8 minutes drop completion rates by 5% to 20%. Only ask the questions that are necessary to get the data you need.
Decide What Kind of Feedback You Want From Your User Survey
Once you know what problem you're targeting with your survey, you can decide what kind of data will help you answer it.
Quantitative data tends to be more concrete and precise, while qualitative responses are more detailed and descriptive, and provides rich, individualized customer insights. When you combine the two, you can contextualize your feedback.
Quantitative user surveys are:
- Simple and versatile.
- Ideal for basic feedback on specific topics.
- Quick and user-friendly, they should no more than a few seconds of their time to answer.
- Easy to analyze. They generate easily identifiable trends and instant responses.
You can gather quantitative feedback from surveys like the simple Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down surveys or customer satisfaction surveys like this NPS from Customer.io, an email automation tool.
The limited responses provide quick insight into how users feel about specific aspects of your product, rather than their overall experience.
Quantitative surveys can be very easily inserted into your mobile or web app, in an email, like this customer feedback survey from Hubspot embedded into your website. Include follow-up questions after the user has done an action to get fresh feedback about their experience.
Qualitative user surveys through customer interviews or feedback boxes:
- Allow users to explain their thoughts, concerns, and opinions about your product features.
- Generate constructive feedback with more details to give your team better and actionable insights into your problem.
- Ask specific questions. General questions may discourage respondents as they may feel the survey will be time-consuming.
- Analysis requires more time as feedback needs to be collected, organized and filtered. This is where using a customer feedback tool like UserVitals really pays off.
Because they have a longer format than a yes/no checkbox, qualitative surveys aren't easily inserted into mobile apps or an email signature and should be embedded as links. They also work effectively on websites or web apps.
Choose the type of questions, taking into account the problem you want the user survey to answer, the type of feedback you need, and the time and tools you have to analyze the feedback.
Select The Best Tools For Your User Survey
There are a few reasons why choosing a good customer feedback tool will help you distribute and increase the response rate for your survey. Not only that, an automated customer feedback tool like UserVitals will help you:
- Improve the user experience. Easily store insights and act upon them.
- Increase customer engagement. With embedded forms, they're triggered when your customer takes a specific action. Asking customers to fill out survey forms after certain meaningful interactions is likely to result in a higher response rate.
- Speed up cycle times for feedback collection. Employees no longer have to manually follow up with customers by sending them emails with links to fill out survey forms, etc.
Effective customer feedback tools help companies better understand their target customers and identify opportunities. Check out our comprehensive guide to customer feedback tools here.
Ask the Right Questions in Your User Survey
Asking the right questions in the right way, makes your users more willing to complete your survey.
There are a few things to keep in mind when phrasing your questions to encourage responses:
- Be simple and direct.
- Avoid confusing language.
- Consider your target audience.
- Avoid jargon, advanced concepts or abbreviations - and if you can't avoid them, provide an explanation.
Asking the right questions in the right way makes your users more willing to complete your survey.
Open-Ended vs. Close-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions allow respondents to answer in their own words, while closed-ended questions have a limited number of possible answers (e.g., yes or no):
- Provide richer and more meaningful data from smaller pools of respondents, e.g., "How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with this product?"
- Give you better insight into user behaviors and concerns.
- Lend themselves to processes such as recruiting participants for usability studies, use case research, and task analysis.
- Increase response rates and can be easily analyzed.
- Are suited to surveys where you know that you will receive over 1000+ responses.
- Give the insights to discover and track trends over time.
Beware of Creating Bias Through Your User Survey
Surveys should offer accurate and unbiased insights into the problem you are trying to solve. Questions should not be constructed to be overly biased and should instead lead to honest and objective feedback.
When creating an unbiased user survey, keep five key things in mind:
- Avoid double-barreled questions where you ask two things at once, as this will yield inaccurate results.
- Don't use unbalanced scales that skew data with an unequal number of possible positive and negative responses. This can be seen below, with response options offering only one negative category and three positive categories.
How was your user experience?
- Avoid leading questions. Don't lead your respondents to a specific answer, but allow them the freedom to answer honestly.
- Remember to offer an "other" or "skip" option, as not every user will agree with the options presented or want to answer all questions asked. You don't want respondents to feel forced to give inaccurate answers.
- Beware of selection bias. This occurs when the respondents selected are not truly representative of the user population.
Boost The Response Rates For Your User Survey
User surveys can be distributed in many ways to increase response rates. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Provide the right amount of information so users understand what the survey is about, how long it will take, and the value of their input.
- Personalize your language and messaging in your survey templates to target specific customer groups differently, such as premium subscribers or regular users.
- Embed your survey in an email, as these surveys have the best completion rate, averaging 74%.
- Show your users how much of the survey they've completed as they go through each question.
- Make sure the structure guides the user. Ask basic, general questions at the beginning, more complex questions in the middle, and then return to the general questions at the end.
- Especially for longer surveys that take more than 20 minutes, offer incentives for those who respond to the survey. A study published by Public Opinion Quarterly shows that respondents who received incentives gave more detailed answers to open-ended questions.
- Be careful not to create demographic bias by offering incentives that target specific demographics, e.g., not everyone will be interested in a SteakHouse Grill restaurant gift card.
User Feedback is an Incredibly Important Part of Your Product Cycle
Accurate, constructive, and unbiased feedback from your user surveys is key to gathering actionable insights to improve your product or service.
It is beneficial to use a variety of survey types and questions that give you a full picture of your user experience. A tool like UserVitals will collect, organize and filter all these insights so that you don't lose any of this valuable feedback.
Keep your goal in mind and make sure you choose targeted questions to deliver through the right channels with a simple and streamlined survey to maximize response rates.