Everyone would love to know what all their customers are thinking when using their product. Unfortunately, no one has invented telepathy yet, so the best alternative has been in-app chat windows, pop up micro surveys and feedback apps. Unfortunately, they are all fatally flawed.
App Chat windows require you to have an employee on chat at the time the customer wants to talk. They also interrupt the flow of whatever a customer is doing; they may not want to have an entire conversation with someone just because they have a little feedback. It’s also a challenge to have the employee in the conversation think like the product, sales, or technical person that would be best suited for having such a discussion.
Pop up micro surveys, like our own KISSinsights, are great when you have a specific question to ask, but lack the flexibility to be a catch-all for your entire site or product. They also can be annoying, as they interrupt what the user is doing when they trigger the activity that makes the micro survey show up.
Feedback apps seem great in theory. Just drop some code on your page and have a button for people to click to submit feedback. Unfortunately, when you click them you’re confronted with a number of options that distract a user from giving feedback. Most of the feedback apps also show other user feature requests and suggestions, which promotes group thinking and interrupts the user from what they were already working on.
Despite all these options, we decided to Keep It Simple and create our own in-house solution. At the bottom of every page of our main site, you’ll find a feedback box:
This simple In Page Feedback box is at the bottom of every page when logged into KISSmetrics. Implementing feedback requests this way has a few key advantages for us:
- No Interruptions – This box is always there, but never in the way. If you enter feedback, you never leave the page you were working on.
- Single Option – We don’t bog people down with drop downs, login interfaces and menus; instead they just have a box to enter and we piece the rest together on our back end.
- No Integration – We didn’t have to spend any time integrating another app into our system.
- Infinite Customer Data – By being an internal tool, we can easily link all of our customer data from the user that submitted the feedback including the page they were on when submitting the feedback, their username and email address as well as any customer data we have in our database.
- Infinite Access – The feedback submissions are sent out via email (see below), so they can be easily sent to any team member with all the customer data they need to act appropriately.
Since implementing this in February of 2011, we’ve received over 3,200 suggestions from our users. Today, 30-40 users of KISSmetrics send us feedback every week using this box. This feedback provides many benefits for us: It catches a few support and bug requests that didn’t come through our normal help button, gives us a ton of great product feedback and occasionally even includes positive reactions we can share with the team on a feature people really like.
As the Product Manager here at KISSmetrics, I regularly use it as another touch point to interact with customers. Even if we’re unlikely to build a feature they request, I enjoy reaching out to learn more about what motivated their request and let them know someone is listening.
Often times, these interactions lead to opportunities for deeper customer development discussions around the use of our product. I also use Gmail labels for the most common requests so that when we do start work on that feature, I already have some feedback handy and some customers I’m sure will be interested in discussing it.
Our CEO, Hiten Shah also reads them to stay in touch with customers, while our entire design team reads these to better understand how their designs are working (or not) for customers.
How to Implement
Now that you’re all excited about the process, you’re probably asking how you too can have a feedback box on your site. Straight from the engineers that built it comes this advice:
- Have your feedback form submit an AJAX request to your server that stores the feedback given and a few other things in the database including: The user account ID, The user’s browser, The page the user was on when they submitted the feedback.
- Create an admin page that groups the support items by feature (determined by URL.)
- Make sure an email is also sent when feedback is submitted.
Ready to use this? Already doing it?
Our In Page Feedback box acts as another way for us to be a customer-driven, Lean Startup. We’ve seen our friends at PicPlum are using a similar In Page Feedback box, but would love to hear if anyone else has tried it.
About the Author: Jason Evanish is a former Product Manager at Kissmetrics. You can find him on Twitter at @evanish.