Getting to Meaningful Feedback
I’ve spent this year getting feedback from small business owners, high school students, doctors, entrepreneurs and bankers. Every few months I start working with a new group of customers and every few months I have experiment and learn how to get meaningful feedback.
When you are just getting started the feedback you get might not be that great but it’s way better than not getting customer feedback.
What is meaningful feedback?
Confirmed – It’s easy for one person’s feedback to lead you astray instead you should pay attention to things that multiple people are responding to.
Speaks to needs – We often give feedback based on our preferences but this is superficial. Instead we need to go digging to understand how what your testing addresses the customer’s needs, pain points, behaviors and goals.
How do you get to meaningful?
This is going to take some experimenting at every stage from how to ask, how to conduct a test, how to get better feedback and how to interpret and iterate based on the results.
Here are some examples:
High School Students: We expected that we could work through schools since we were affiliated with a nationally respected non-profit but this wasn’t allowed by school rules so we needed to experiment with alternative channels. Also, students wanted to be polite and not give us direct feedback so it was important to coach them to let us have it if they didn’t get something.
Small Business Owners: We learned a lot about owners just by trying to talk with them. We usually schedule sessions with business people but they were on the go and didn’t have a set schedule, instead they give you a window to call them in.
Doctors: We found that doctor’s are fairly literal and give good feedback when you show them something and ask questions. Your prototype needs to have real content in it and pay attention to the details because the doctors will.
Entrepreneurs: I love talking with this group and to it often. They are usually the most willing and helpful participants you’ll find. The downside is that you need to do a lot more sifting through
Bankers: What was interesting about the bankers was understanding not just them but the other people on their team who help them support clients.
In each case, we monitored how effective our efforts were and made adjustments while also sharing what we learned with the client so they could continue the efforts after we finished and I’m happy to say that’s happening.
It’s work and can sometimes be frustrating but I promise you it’s worth it to mine for gold.
Image: An illustration experiment from a few years ago