#Build 5: 4 Ways to Get Customer Feedback Any Time
Maggie: Hey, what's up? Welcome to another episode of Build on Seeking Wisdom. This is Maggie, apparently the inaudible, here to go deep on everything related to building products. Today I want to talk about the most important thing that we can do as product people that we all continue to fail at, and that's talking to customers. When Martin Eriksson from Mind the Product told us that the one thing that he still sees most product teams fail at is getting enough customer feedback, I thought that this would be a perfect topic to dig into here on Seeking Wisdom. Getting customer feedback is another example of something that's simple but not easy. It's just incredible that customer feedback and talking to customers is the one thing that we all know is the key to building great products, and yet apparently we don't all do it. It's like eating healthy or working out or sleeping more or whatever good habit that you're supposed to have that for whatever reason you just don't. But luckily, there's a way to massively increase the amount of customer feedback you're getting if you open up your definition of customer feedback and instead focus on the question of how can I talk to my customers more often? So today I'm going to focus really tactically on how to have more conversations with your customers regardless of the structure of your team or how you do product development. My goal is for everyone listening to go back to their teams and companies with at least one new way or idea for how to talk to and have conversations with your customers more consistently. First though, there's one elephant in the room with customer feedback that I want to call out that I think might be one of the reasons why product teams just don't get enough customer feedback. And that's that when someone says you should get more customer feedback, or you should talk to customers more often, the immediate reaction that I think some of us in product might have is I just don't have time. Because when we think about customer feedback, we're stuck in this model of thinking that feedback is this really formal thing that you do by setting up a user interview, getting a high fidelity prototype going, making interview guide, et cetera. And that can take a week or more to get rolling and it can just feel like it's going to slow down your team when you're under all this pressure to ship features. But customer feedback is more than that. It's not just formal user interviews. There are so many ways that you can find your customers and talk to them. Part of what I want everyone to get out of today's episode is that it doesn't have to be such a chore. There are many ways to get feedback and talk to customers regardless of your position at your company or the way in which your company does product development. The first step is to take a critical look at what you think of as your sources of customer feedback. Your users are not the only customer out there. The sales team, the customer success team, the support team, the marketing team, these are all your customers. They are an amazing source of feedback and in a pinch obviously, way easier to find than actual users or paying customers. For example, they can share emails that they've had with customers on the product that you're working on. They can share how they teach users how to use your product or how they position a given product during a sale and what objections prospects might have. The point is that these teams are all sources of customer feedback. So when you think about talking to customers, you can think about this larger, more accessible pool of people that you can tap for feedback, especially when you want to do something lightweight or just get a really quick gut check of an idea that you're working on. Now that you're looking to more than just your user for feedback, the next question in this quest for more frequent customer contact is how do you get that feedback faster and with less process than the resource intensive traditional customer interview? The answer is, again, look at your whole company. There are customer conversations happening around you all the time. All you have to do is figure out how to get involved in them. Let's start with your customer success team. If you have one, this team has calls scheduled every single day with customers. Take advantage of this. You can join those calls and take five minutes to ask a question at the end of the call. Onboarding calls are great if you want to know whether users understand how to start using your product. Turn calls are great for understanding the pain points that led to a customer leaving. A regular check- in is usually good to see how the user is adopting your product. Each of these calls is an opportunity to listen, to learn, and maybe ask a few questions to inform what you're working on. To get really specific on how to get into these calls, find the Slack channel or a place where your success team hangs out and post in that channel about what you're looking for. If that's not an option, if you don't have Slack or a chat tool, figure out where their weekly meetings are and show up at them or just go find their desks and ask them. I guarantee that there will be at least one call you can join within the week. The same goes for the sales team if you have a paid product. They have demos all day. And oftentimes they'll know if there's an upcoming call with a prospect that wants to dig into the area of the product that you're working on, and you might even help close a deal, which will obviously make getting on demos in the future so much easier. Third, your support team is probably responding to bugs and feature requests for your product, again, all day long. Those moments, I think when a customer is struggling are perfect for feedback. Just like with the other teams, find your support team, tell them what you're looking for, and then just jump on the next support request that comes up and handle it yourself. Maybe you have a prototype ready and be able to run through a really quick test. You're probably not going to be able to do a full experience, but you can at least get really good feedback really quickly from a customer who's already thinking about the problem that you're trying to solve. And of course, every interaction that you have like this builds relationships with customers that you can use to get feedback again in the future. There is one other method that we use at Drift that happens to be specific to having chat enabled within your product, which I realize is not the case for everyone. But if you do have chat, it can be one of the simplest ways to have a quick, really contextual conversation with a customer. And basically, you just chat to users who are actively using the feature that you're working on. You can ask them a quick question, maybe send them a link to a prototype. Big shout out to inaudible for pioneering this at Drift and getting us on this mode of customer feedback. So those are four ways to interact with customers that are already around you at any given time. But your customers aren't just talking to your sales team or hanging out in your product. They're also out there on the internet, so you can find them and yes, have a conversation with them anywhere. So a couple of examples of how we do it. Pay close attention to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Customers are out there talking about your company specifically, or they're at least talking about problems that your product solves. When that happens, jump in and respond. Get involved, see if you can turn it into a one- on- one conversation. So the other day, a customer tweeted about using our product. Someone on our product team pinged me and I responded to the thread and asked if I could talk to him directly about what he was trying to accomplish. He said," Sure." So I booked a meeting with him for the next day, and it probably took less than 10 minutes of my time to get that call scheduled. If this starts to happen frequently or on a specific topic, you can just put together a Facebook group where customers can chat with each other, and then you can listen in and help out, ask questions. And pretty soon, you'll have a built- in group that you can tap for feedback at any moment. So you have sources of feedback and methods for how to find your customers on the internet. The third part is really where I think the magic happens, and that's what you do with this type of conversational feedback when you get it. You should, of course, share it with your direct team and use it to immediately inform your future development, but to really level up, you have to share the feedback with your entire product team. By collecting feedback in this obviously more ad hoc manner, you're necessarily going to hear things that don't matter for the specific problem that you're trying to solve. Rather than just tabling that feedback, collect it, and then go share it with the team that works on that product. Now, imagine that you are jumping into customer calls and chats all the time and your design and engineering teammates are doing the same thing because they're taking conversations where they can test designs and implementation. Well, you are understanding pain points and evaluating how things you shipped are working and then every other product team is doing the same thing. And you're all sharing what you're learning with each other and talking through that feedback as a team. All of a sudden, you've just exponentially increased the amount of customer feedback that you have at any given time. Your customer feedback moment goes from just once per project to something that's just happening all the time and is around you constantly. But as I mentioned before, this is all simple, not easy. There are a couple of things that you do have to be willing to do. First, you have to make yourself available for feedback. You'll have to break down whatever walls you have up between you and the sales reps from customer support, CSMs, marketing. You have to be open to these teams. You have to spend time with them, build relationships with them and be willing to listen. Once you are, they'll start to bring the conversations to you, but you have to put in the work. Second, conversational, immediate feedback is unstructured. You'll have less time to prepare and topics will be way less predictable, which means you'll need to be willing to talk about any number of things with your customers. You'll have to be open to probably messing up an answer, having to explain your roadmap. Basically, you just have to be more human and conversational, and that can be terrifying. But remember that the accepted key to building a great business is how close you are to the customer. So talking to your customers is the highest leverage thing you could possibly be doing. And that's it. Use your whole team as a source of feedback. Go find your users on the internet using all the social networks out there. Share everything you learn with each other, and try to stay open and flexible. My ask for you is to take just one of these methods back to your team, try it out and let me know how it goes. Try having just one more conversation with the customer this week using a tool or a platform that you haven't used before. So thanks for listening. I'd love to hear what other methods you've developed for getting customer feedback quickly or other ways that you figured out how to have more conversations with your customers. And as always, let me know what you think at maggie @ drift. com or @ maggiecrowley on Twitter, or leave a note with us at(888) 41- DRIFT. That's( 888) 413-7438. And remember, leave a review, obviously six stars only, and have a great day. Thanks.