Learning how to ask for feedback is crucial for keeping ahead of issues and adding more value to your users. Your customers will appreciate that you want to hear from them.
How do you ask for feedback without being overwhelming? And, how can you do this while still maintaining the quality of what you get in return?
We’ve already written 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 ask for feedback.
Prefer a visual? Skip to the end to see these tips as an infographic.
When you ask for customer feedback, it’s important to consider:
- How to ask for feedback
- When to ask for feedback
- Where to ask for feedback
Let’s get started.
How to ask for feedback: Formatting and phrasing
How you frame your feedback request can make a huge difference. Here’s what to keep in mind when you’re setting up your request.
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.
And, highlight how they can benefit from giving you feedback. Show what’s in it for them. They’re helping you make the product better—and they’ll get to take advantage of a better product.
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 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. Customers who want to spend more time offering feedback can do so, 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 personal 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.
When to ask for feedback: Frequency and timing
Here’s how to make sure you’re not bothering your users too often.
Tailor frequency to feedback type
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.
Let users get to know your product
There’s nothing more annoying than getting an NPS survey when logging in for the first time. Give your users 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.
How you set this up will depend on the complexity of your product.
But, you can make sure customers have enough time by not asking for feedback until:
- A certain amount of time has passed
- The user has taken certain actions
- Certain features have been used
The more familiar with your product your users are before you ask for their feedback, the more useful it’ll be.
Allow users to give feedback at any time
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.
We’re a bit biased, of course, but we think the best way to do this is to use Canny. If you need more info to decide if a tool to collect feedback is right for you, we’ve written about how to figure out if you need a feedback tool.
This is how ClickUp uses Canny. They have Canny set up right in their UI to give customers a chance to get in touch at any time:
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.
Give your customers an easy and quick way to provide feedback with Canny
Where to ask for feedback: Placement within your product
You should also consider where in the product you place your feedback requests.
These suggestions follow a few important 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.
- Follow the mantra of “two clicks or less.” Ideally, it should be no more than two clicks for a user to be able to leave feedback while using your app.
With that in mind, here are some of the best practices for including feedback inside your app.
Bottom right corner
This is a great option because it’s familiar and discoverable. It is persistent without being annoying.
You can be more aggressive if your product is in its early stages or you’re beta testing a new feature!
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.
Finally, you can add a feedback menu item that is triggered by the user shaking their phone.
It’s 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.
Bottom line: Don’t overwhelm your customers
Any constructive feedback your users give you is extremely valuable for your business. The way you ask for customer feedback means the difference between getting plenty of valuable feedback, and not getting enough.
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? Is there a strategy you feel works better (or worse)? Let us know in the comments—or reach out to us on Twitter.