Posts Taged customer-feedback

Are you listening?

Customer Feedback

When you hear a service provider request you for your feedback, they actually mean the following:

  “Your feedback is important to us. By the time it is aggregated with hundreds of others into our management report for any actionable insight, we would have forgotten who you are and what you asked for or suggested.”

Any business that is looking to make informed product/service decisions needs to efficiently gather and share customer feedback. But the dilemma lies in deciding if the feedback is actionable or not.

Customer Feedback helps an organization figure out what their customers think in the following ways:

  • You are doing things right – you would want to continue doing these in future
  • Your areas of opportunities – for these you need to figure out a plan of action to get better at
  • Things that you are doing but your customers don’t care about– you need to re-evaluate if you want to continue to offer these to all customers or maybe a specific segment

Data suggests that one customer taken well care of could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising. As per a study conducted by Dimensional Research in 2013:

  • 62% of B2B and 42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good customer service experience
  • 66% of B2B and 52% of B2C customers stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction

The writing on the wall is clear: Customer feedback is the first step towards finding out how your customers feel about your products & services. If they are happy then the financial numbers reflect the same.

Top 5 Rules of Collecting Customer Feedback:

1. Make the customer feel important and make it clear that you want to receive their feedback

Don’t assume they don’t have time to give feedback. If you don’t ask, they won’t tell (well, mostly)

An Interesting Example from Starbucks:

2. Make the process easy

Don’t complicate or lengthen the feedback collection mechanism. No one needs 5 pages of questions to find out the customer’s opinion.

3. Encourage your customers to be honest in their feedback

  • Make it anonymous
  • If your budget permits, hire a 3rd party agency to collect the feedback
  • Engage mystery shoppers to do the evaluation once in a while

4. Get innovative and think of ways to incentivizing customers to providing feedback.

  • Gift vouchers
  • Free delivery
  • Their picture on your website, on the ‘Wall of Fame’ page for 1 month

 Here’s again another example from Starbucks:

An example from Beechworth Bakery:

5. Create a feedback loop

  • Thank them for the good/bad/ugly feedback
  • Keep them updated with what you plan to do with the feedback
  • Whenever you implement their feedback (partially/fully) – inform them
  • Invite them next time to see if their pain-point or suggestion has been addressed/implemented

How to collect customer feedback – the easy and fast way 

Though there are different ways of collecting customer feedback, the business objective should drive the feedback mechanism selection. It is important to understand that not all feedback mechanisms have the same impact – it depends on lot of factors.

At a high level, the feedback generation mechanism ranges from Passive (on the left) to Active, as shown below:

  • Individual Feedback is the least costly & user targeted feedback. These are more often generic in nature and based on individual experience.
  • Targeted Feedback generally targets a specific set of audience and is often tactical in nature. For instance, a quick survey on the ‘inflight experience’ for the passengers who travelled on Malaysian Airlines for the month of April 2016.
  • Group Feedback is based on random sampling. It is used for long term decision making.

Customer feedback can always be collected using traditional methods like Online Surveys and Customer Community Forums but given the fact that immediacy is the key, organizations can engage in just-in-time feedback collection strategy, as described below:

  • If you are a B2B software company or a B2B on-line company, you may want to consider using Usabilla to collect feedback
  • If you are an offline company (brick and mortal retail store for instance you may want to just put an iPad on the entrance/exit with a simple feedback form

A common friend recently saw this Interactive Feedback System the wash-room of Singapore airport.

(good that they mention the touch screen is sanitized hourly!)

Wrap Up

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” – Damon Richards

The way a company designs the feedback collection process, speaks a lot about their attitude towards customers, their products and services. In today’s competitive world – no business can succeed if your customers think you are indifferent towards them. It’s always prudent to choose the right feedback collection strategy as it is critical to understanding what your customers think about your products and services. This helps organization to not only improve quality, but can also insights into what new products and services your customers want.

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook

M2M

 

 

 

Maximum Validated Learning

“Evolutionary quest for perfection, but with a feedback loop” – Pijush & Mahuya

There is no better time to fail and learn than now! We are living in a world where experimentation, trial and error and really understanding the pain points of the human beings involved in the process are critical dimensions. When it comes to problems involving human beings, data from the past is not necessarily predictive of the future and collaboration between people with varied perception of the problem is of utmost importance.  This where the need to test and fail comes to the fore. The most effective approach to test a hypothesis in small measures is Design Thinking and this “small measure” is Minimum Viable Product (MVP). 

Some of the earliest examples of MVP took ages to get to their final (or current) form. Time telling instruments for instance took thousands of years to get to the form that we are familiar with. But during the course of its journey, all the previous forms were true MVPs in themselves. They all had just those features that allowed them to be used by early adopters (and start giving feedback on).

Have a look at the following video that we created on evolution of time telling instruments. Some may say that its evolution but we say it’s Maximum Validated Learning.

It’s so easy to get the concept of MVP wrong; right from defining it to the actual execution. The most common misconception is that MVP is a product with minimum set of features. It could be minimum, but is it viableIs it potentially shippable? Does it resonate with early adopters? Is the product basic enough to test a hypothesis but functional enough to focus on user activities and conforms to the overall vision of the product? It’s never easy to get it right. The idea is to replace the traditional method of having a one dimensional feature list (based on business value) with a two dimensional map based on Customer Journey. 

Recall our last post on User Personas? The Persona is represented by his/her goals, needs, aspirations and pain-points. Each Persona has its own journey and interaction/touch points with the system. This is what we commonly refer to as the User Journey. This is where we capture the primary goal of the product or solution. 

The User Journey represents the end to end interaction between the user and the application (product or service) through its life-cycle. Each of the stages of this User Journey can further be exploded into a task flow that represents the interaction or process flow. This is where we define the main process or flow of the product or solution. 

Drill a level deeper and you have the features that a product or a service needs to have. This is where we create a list of feature for each of the stages. These can then be broken down into user stories and stack ranked based on priority.

Now comes the real (and hardest) trick. If we take the very first row of the prioritized feature of each stage, we can come up with a working skeleton. This represents the smallest possible representation of a usable product. The idea is to take the take the top prioritized items from each of the stages of the user journey and what you would have is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

One might argue that the idea of MVPs could be a waste of time. Detractors may say, why spend time and effort on building a prototype that might never get completed or might be too simple to appeal to the target segment.

Well, the idea is to get an opportunity to see firsthand how your target customers use and perceive a product, which focus groups or boring surveys don’t. Proponents of MVP can find solace in what William Edward Hickson said:

 ‘Tis a lesson you should heed:

Try, try, try again.

If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try, try again.’

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook

M2M

 

 

Up Close and Persona(l)!

persona

Nothing can work better in creating a solution than understanding the entity it is created for or targeted at. The traditional way of finding “someone” that needs a solution is pivoted on categorizing customer segments based on demographics is passé.  All we do is end up solving the problem for some generic flora and flora. The discovery exercise should be undertaken with a purpose of achieving that higher level of knowledge about customer’s daily life. And that is what Persona is all about.

Persona goes a few levels deeper to the point wherein, the human behind the ‘user’ comes forth.  The idea of creating a persona is to create a credible and realistic representation of a customer segment – the segment formed by common characteristics of what they expect to accomplish through the product/service.  Personas are fictional representation of real life characters but they are created based on real data, real problem and real target segment.  These personas are based on intense research, both qualitative and quantitative.  And that’s why they are believable and relatable.  Persona creation is part of human-centric approach for creation of innovative solutions and draws deeply from Design Thinking.  It is imperative that a product or a service should have a minimum number of personas for breadth of focus on what the user needs, wants and the limitations.

The benefits of creating personas are immense. They are invaluable for design and user experience creation. They help the creator of a product or a service to have a human face in front of them while creating memorable experiences. 

We have come across innumerable ways in which personas can be depicted. Their layouts may be different, but the core elements bring out a common set of elements that give a human face to a persona. Here is an example of a persona for e-commerce portal user (as a buyer):

female-online-shopper-persona-image

(Click to Enlarge)

  1.  Profile: It represents the demographic, psychographic and geographic details of the user.
  2. Personality: Characterization of personality based on certain indicators (e.g.MBTI types).
  3. Aspirations: What are the users’ expectations and priorities when they interact with the product/service or about the goal pursued.
  4. Frustrations: This represents what a product or service should not do. This actionable area is what the user doesn’t expect or what frustrates him/her.
  5. Short Bio: This is a short description of the persona which sometimes refers to personality traits.
  6. Motivations: What turns on the user and what doesn’t is something that is captured and represented here. This is what a product or a service should strive to achieve.
  7. Brand Preferences: This represents brands and product that influence his/her relation with the ecosystem.
  8. Referents & Influences: This represents the persona’s relationship with a specific brand and the product and how he/she is influenced.

Once we have built the depth and breadth of knowledge around the persona, we are ready to embark on a journey of discovering (through iterations) what works and what wows.  This is the starting point of putting together an innovation story based on a real-life persona.

Are you doing A/B Testing for your Hypothesis Validation?

ab

As promised earlier, this post talks about how A/B can significantly help in increasing your app’s conversion/sign up rate.

Let’s see how we can leverage A/B testing for increasing Mobile App downloads:

What is A/B testing?

ab-test

“Take the guess work out of the equation” – Mahuya 

What is A/B Testing?

It’s a powerful technique that allows one to test and experiment with simple UI changes or complex flows and features.  The end goal of this exercise is to determine which version is best or ‘works’ with clear and actionable insights. In short, it is the thin line between “we think” to “we know”.

It is one of the user research technique that is applicable for late stage projects, where you have fair amount of knowledge on the problem but you need more objective & quantitative data to base your decision.  

Here’s a visual representation of the various User Research techniques & where A/B testing falls:

Overwhelmed? Well, the good news is you don’t necessarily have to use all of these techniques in one go.  Depending on the maturity of the product & the kind of insight(s) you are looking for, you would need to decide on the relevant technique(s).

Wondering, how can you benefit from A/B Testing?

  • If driven by analytics, it can accurately measure actual human behavior under real situations
  • If the sample size is good, it can measure very small performance differences with high statistical significance
  • It helps to resolve product capability trade-offs with factual data
  • And oh! Did we mention that it’s cheap? It is actually!

So, how do you do it?

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci

If we had to put it simply, A/B testing starts with 2 versions of a prototype. Then you find real users to take the test. This obviously results in sample split and the behavior is recorded. The real time findings are then used to proceed to the next step in the product funnel. Ideally, the process should have the following basic plan of action:

  • Form a testable hypothesis with clear goals which can be analytically measured
  • Identify the testable variables
  • Test by user segment
  • Test visitor flow with a goal of measuring which screen drives the greatest impact on retention (i.e., less drop off)
  • Look for patterns and quick wins

Here’s an A/B Variations for a non-software product to determine which variation of the jacket will be more relevant for dogs to use during winter:

If you are curious to know how A/B testing can significantly increase software product usage, sales with real world examples & tools that experts swear by, then stay tuned for the next edition!

Design Thinking + Customer Community = Social Innovation

c

When competition tries to decimate companies, the only thing that stands between them and annihilation is customers. We mean loyal customers! It costs roughly 5X more to acquire a new customer than it does to generate recurring and new revenues from an existing happy and loyal customer. Not only do these happy customers give more business but they also are responsible for referring others. A recent survey corroborated the fact when 75% of the respondents admitted that 20% of their new business came from current customers (Source: Loyalty360.) Customers are important. Listening to them is very important. Making customers engage and talk is of utmost importance. Period!

When customers have the option of switching between any of the B2B SaaS product, it is important to engage them by opening channels of communication. And what better way to open up the dialogue than Customer Communities. Did you know that support costs can be significantly reduced by having a customer community? And that’s just a start.

It’s given that the more active your community members are, the more actively they would be using your products. B2B SaaS products companies can just build a customer community and forget about it. But would it work?

Nothing works by itself. Community engagement can be encouraged through regular blog posts, videos, webinars and sharing product tips and this will allow customers to engage and discuss how the application is being used differently but efficiently. It is this sense of being engaged that brings ownership and customers take pride to invest in the discussion. Needless to say, it leads to churn reduction & higher NPS score.

We are not going to lay down the guidelines on how to create a customer community, as it’s a tried and tested formula. But there’s more to these communities than brand building and customer service. What we shall be focusing on would be using design thinking to nurture a culture of innovation in a customer community.

With lightning fast product cycles, widening market and access to smart people, it doesn’t take much time to either jump into the B2B SaaS product foray or lose an existing competitive advantage. What really can stand the test of time are product innovations.

Accidental or strategic innovation may or may not come from inside and that’s why product companies should look beyond the traditional and tribal knowledge fountain head and make it an open and collaborative process. Customer communities are one of the ways to integrate customer insights and feedback into a continuous innovation loop. B2B SaaS products companies can de-risk their product value hypothesis by:

  • Exploration of the current situation and framing the challenge (the “What is)
  • Generating new possibilities for growth and innovation (the “What if)
  • Testing assumptions and refining and prototyping the concept (the “What wows)
  • Enrolling customers to shape it into something that can be executed (the “What works)

This approach makes product companies to shift from exploration mode (the “unknown unknowns”) to collaborative problem solving mode (the “known unknowns”). When a design thinking approach is applied strategically in a customer community, it can definitely foster a “way of life” of innovation. These phased approach of running with an idea; validating and prototyping it; failing and trying again can help product companies get demand insights, design insights and system insights and these insights are the ones that lead to the discovery and co-creation of a path breaking innovation. To give credence to this fact, there are myriad case studies on how Tableau and TriNet innovates together with its customer community or how Starbucks reinvented itself based on innovative ideas from its customer community.

Given the level of ambiguity and uncertainty associated with certain innovations, it requires utmost care to incorporate design-thinking approach to see patterns in creativity in the customer communities. Like in most cases, some of the innovations can be serendipitous and some may come through a managed innovation process. Nurturing a customer community facilitates interplay between external (i.e. customer) perspectives and the product company’s capabilities. We need to put in a caveat that not all ideas generated by a customer community can pass muster on the grinding wheels of strategic innovation.

Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Clayton Christensen would surely disagree with the above hypotheses but their polarizing statements cannot discount the importance of customer communities and how they can be used to break the four walls by solving problems with an emphasis on need identification (through ethnography for instance), visualization (through storytelling), prototyping, validation and iteration.

From Lame-storming to Design-storming

f

We’ve got a lot of offline requests after we wrote “Design Thinking: The Continuum of Innovation” asking us to elaborate more on the Design Thinking Approach – so, here you go!

The concepts of Design Thinking are extremely useful in creating new products or enhancing an existing offering. It is equipped to provide a multidimensional solution by considering human-centric experiences that add and provide value.

Mahuya Ghosh

The first step of the process involves discovering the particular problem and associating it to relevant and concrete experiences. This leads to the research phase wherein we try to analyze and understand the underlying issues and complexities of the problem. The idea is to start with in-depth research with special emphasis on understanding the nature of the problem and studying human behavior. This helps us build out our observations.

After the observations have been collated, the next important phase of synthesis kicks in. This is the phase wherein; we start converging on different ideas and start to develop them further. This process transforms the ideas from abstract world and then synthesizes them to identify insights and areas of opportunity in the real world. This results in a vision that would ultimately serve as a platform for the final concept generation.

The vision based ideas from synthesis phase needs to be bounced off others. This is what the reflection phase is all about.  As the stakeholders reflect on the ideas, contradictions emerge and help in discovering new elements that were not seen or observed before.

The penultimate phase is Launch 1.0. This involves placing small bets having short feedback loops. This is in line with the last phase of evolution wherein heavy iterations take place. We start listening to users, prototype, fail early and then pick up the pieces and launch again.

Design thinking based Product Management involves executing a combination of design, development and content creation to bring a product to the market. It is an on-going process of testing, refining, creating an optimized plan to analyze performance and fine-tuning, till the final product hits the market. Having reached the final product launch, the product manager would have sufficiently tried, tested, failed and re-tried to make the product or solution in line with what the actual users needs (not what buyers’ just want)

Design Thinking: The Continuum of Innovation

d2

Some would vouch that left is more important; others would swear by the right. But which one is more important? We are referring to our brain if you didn’t get the drift. When it comes to creating a product or an innovative solution, what should we be relying on? The left analytical side or the right creative side? There is no definitive answer. What is definitive is “Design Thinking!” Design thinking is a mindset and set of principles that engages both analytical and creative thinking for solving a customer problem. Till now Product Managers have been heavily relying on number crunching to find a solution to a customer problem. But in the current technology landscape, innovation and winning can only come from design thinking- but only if applied appropriately.

Before we delve intoBuyer’s Journey in SaaS Ecosystem’ in our next article, we would like to set the stage for design thinking. And “Why?” you ask?For the simple reason that it is going to push the frontiers of Product Management to deliver breakthrough innovations and competitive advantage.

So what is Design Thinking?

In this age of innovation-hungry and competitive-advantage driven companies, design thinking is an approach to solve customer problems by combining right-brain creative thinking with left-brain analytical thinking. But more than that; it is all about the journey and not the destination.

The customer problem might manifest itself in multiple, unknown and non-linear ways. In the same way, the understanding of the solution would always fall in the realm of ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ and that should be the starting point of innovation.

New age Product Managers should comprehend the core concept of starting with the unknown and learning as they go into the process by playing small but fast bets. The focus of Product Managers should be to start small but with genuine intent on focusing on meeting human needs. The idea is to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket and be willing to explore multiple options.

It has always been traditionally perceived that Product Management is supposed to be an analytical role. Product Managers were expected to rely on statistics and numbers to decide on the product they are creating. Product Managers love ‘big’ ideas but they always have been obsessed with analysis. That is the reason why they get trapped in ‘growth gridlock’. If the time to market is to be shortened and the process has to become lean, then just analytical thinking will never work. In this age of SaaS products where time to market is paramount, it’s not just numbers that you can rely on; there is need for empathy-based thinking as well. This is also known as human-centric or design thinking approach. This is true for both enhancing an existing product and creating entirely a new solution/product for customers.

Historically, designers have always focused on improving the look/feel and functionality of products but it was not enough and we know that it’s much more than that. Simply put, it’s non-linear and allows interactive and iterative understanding of a problem or a solution that is both analytical and experiential. The germ of design thinking starts with discovery of the customer’s problem. Since design thinking is option focused, the next step is about researching and understanding of the actual people or users involved. The next step is to ideate on how clearly we understand the problem itself and what are the options to solve it. Once the options are in place, we start experimenting with them and quickly discard any option that doesn’t work or ‘wows’. This takes us to synthesis. We should understand that when creating a product from scratch or adding new features, the option that we choose from experimentation has to be given time to grow, adapt and evolve before it becomes usable. It is an iterative process based on feedback and reflection, as the underlying concept of design thinking is that of being human-centric. Finally the solution needs to evolve and not be stagnant. Otherwise it runs the risk of becoming obsolete.

Competitive advantage doesn’t come overnight as it is a continuous process of adhering to principles ranging from mindset to process which can be aligned and applied to solve complex problems of customers. Competitive advantage through innovation most often occurs within a set of constraints, such as viability, profitability and desirability and that a traditional business-minded rational/analytic approach should be complemented with design thinking.