Asking for feedback is crucial for keeping ahead of issues and adding more value to your users. Although your customers surely appreciate it, it’s easy to become too overbearing and vague with your outreach.
How do you ask for feedback without being overwhelming, while still maintaining the quality of what you get in return?
We’ve already written a post about the different ways to gather customer feedback. Hopefully you’ve picked the ones that best suit your product and business case.
Now you need to start thinking about how to present them.
Here’s how to format, time, and place your feedback requests so that your customers provide you with the most actionable feedback at a low effort.
What to think about when asking for feedback
There are a few things to keep in mind with any type of feedback request. In most cases, these things fall into three categories:
- How to ask
- When to ask
- Where to ask
Let’s get started.
Formatting and phrasing
Here are some tips on how to format and phrase your feedback requests so they don’t come across the wrong way.
Don’t sound indifferent
Your users are making an effort to give you extremely valuable feedback. It’s something that they absolutely do not have to do. And, if you sound like you don’t really care about it, they won’t.
Wherever you can, make sure to reflect gratitude as well as what you’re trying to achieve for them.
Here are the magic words:
For every piece of feedback, take the time to say how much you genuinely appreciate it.
Keep it short and simple… but not too short and simple
There’s a delicate balance between being too wordy and not wordy enough. Make sure your questions are as short and concise as possible, without losing the meat of it.
Also, not all your customers are familiar with industry-related jargon. They might not even be familiar with your entire product. Take the extra space to explain terms or names that might be confusing.
If you’re using stars or numbers to rate, you can also add explanations, like this old Skype feedback screen:
As for length—no general request for feedback should take your users more than a few minutes to complete. It’s also good to let them know in advance how much time it requires, and how far along they are.
Unless your customer has agreed to spend more time (e.g for an interview), make it as fast as possible.
Allow for extra space
Always allow for extra room that isn’t pre-determined by your own questions. This will let customers who do want to spend more time on feedback to give it to you without wondering where to put it.
You can do this by adding an “additional comments” field to any form of feedback request.
Taking away the chance to leave unrelated comments means you’re missing out on some good stuff. It can also irritate the user since it limits them.
Don’t direct the answers
You are understandably biased about your own product and how well it works. You would, also understandably, prefer to hear good things from your customers.
Don’t let this bias affect how you ask for feedback. Here are a few examples of biased questions:
- “On a scale of one to ten, how awesome is our product?”
- “What could we do to make it even better?”
These questions aren’t productive. They might give you what you want to hear, but not what you need to hear.
Here are some alternatives to the examples above:
- On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate our product? Why?
- Is there anything you would like to change when it comes to our set of features?
Notice the difference in tone—it’s a lot more humble, and focuses on getting real feedback instead of hot air.
Also, your customers are smarter than that. Phrasing your questions in a biased way will be obvious to them, and they won’t be happy about it.
Make an effort to sound personal
With some feedback channels (such as NPS surveys), sounding impersonal is almost inevitable.
However, whenever you get the chance, try to make your outreach as personalized as possible.
If you have the time, send out emails or requests manually, and personalize every one of them.
If you don’t, make sure you:
- include their name and company
- send automated messages out from a real person’s name
- respond to feedback individually
For example, at Canny, we send out “trial ending” feedback requests out automatically. It makes our lives a little easier. However, we always follow up on them manually on Intercom:
Nobody likes receiving a request that sounds robotic and impersonal. It will make your users feel like you don’t care about their feedback enough to put work into it.
Frequency and timing
Here’s how to make sure you’re not bothering your users too often.
The timing… depends
Different types of feedback require different types of frequency.
For example, with a customer support rating, you would ask after every conversation. However, you would only send out large surveys about the whole product once a quarter at most.
“It depends” is an annoying answer. Use your gut when deciding on the frequency of your requests for feedback.
In general, the less effort it is for the customer to engage with your interaction, the more you can ask.
Give a chance to use the product
There’s nothing more annoying than getting an NPS survey when logging in for the first time. Give your users have the chance to actually play with the product before you ask for feedback.
You might be tempted to embed requests for feedback in your onboarding emails. You can do it when the trial or onboarding period has ended or is about to end, but don’t push it right in the beginning.
Depending on the complexity of your product, you can make sure your customers have enough time by:
- Not asking for feedback until a certain amount of time has passed
- Not asking for feedback until the user has completed a certain set of actions/used certain features
The more familiar with your product your users are before you ask for their feedback, the more useful it’ll be.
Always have the option for giving feedback
If your customer would like to say something to you at a random time, they should be able to.
Make sure you have a feedback option available in your product as well as other properties.
The best way to do this—biased!—is using Canny.
This is how ClickUp (our task management tool of choice) uses Canny right in their UI to give customers a chance to get in touch whenever:
Make sure you respond to all customer-initiated feedback promptly. When your customers learn that they have an easy way to express their thoughts, they’ll do it more often.
Come backstage, where we share an honest look into building Canny. You’ll be the first to know when we post new content.
Placement in the product
Besides timing and phrasing, you should also consider where in the product you place your feedback requests.
Here are 5 ways you can collect candid product feedback inside your app. These suggestions follow two main rules:
- Don’t hide the feedback option. If you care about feedback, find a prominent place in your app to surface it.
- Don’t be disruptive. We all hate those in-app pop-ups that ask us for ratings.
Bottom right corner
This is a great option because it’s familiar and discoverable. It is persistent without being annoying.
If your product is in its early stages or you’re beta testing a new feature, be more aggressive with collecting feedback! Use a text button like “Beta Feedback” to encourage more feedback.
We don’t recommend this option for mobile because of limited screen space.
Menus are nice and out of the way but can be hard to find if labeled improperly. Some common labels are: Feedback, Help, and Support.
This works nicely if your product is feed-based. It’s prominent but easy to scroll away from. At most, show this every 20 feed units.
End of a flow
If you’re looking for feedback on a specific flow, this is a good option. Consider limiting the number of times feedback is prompted if this is a common flow.
The implementation on the left is disruptive; it blocks the user’s next action. The right (mock) embeds feedback into the normal flow.
An interesting option because it’s completely out of the way.
On the downside, this isn’t a well known interaction so you would need to tell your users about it.
Don’t overwhelm your customers
Any constructive feedback your users give you is extremely valuable for your business. The way you solicit it means the difference between getting a lot vs. a little feedback.
By making your feedback requests subtle, respectful, and low effort, you’ll encourage your customers to get involved.
What are your tips for making feedback requests informative yet subtle? Let’s chat in the comments!
Give your customers an easy and quick way to provide feedback with Canny