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How to use product feedback to solve business-critical issues
Product feedback is one of a product management team’s most effective tools, but only when that feedback comes with the proper context.
Last updated18 Aug 2022
Without proper context, you may get a lot of feedback, but find you’re not quite sure what to do with it.
For example, let's say your product team spends several months organizing blog posts, experience reports, and session materials from years and years of conferences, and publishes them online. You ask for user feedback and the main response you get in return is, “everything is so hard to find!”
At that point, you realize you have an issue on your hands—but you’re not quite sure how to fix it, because you don’t know what people mean when they say, “everything is so hard to find.”
To learn how to address the issue, you need to collect actionable product feedback so you can identify what needs to change—and how to change it.
In this article, we cover:
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Why product teams seek actionable feedback
Instead of relying on imprecise, anecdotal accounts of user experience, actionable feedback provides insight into what your customers are trying to accomplish with your product and why they aren’t as successful as they’d like to be.
Having clear, reliable, actionable feedback lets you focus on the changes that need to be made to your product and prevents you from making changes that aren’t necessary.
To get an idea of where actionable feedback is helpful, let’s refer back to our example. When your customers say “everything is hard to find” on your site, you’ll probably have some follow-up questions:
What specific content were they looking for?
Were they trying to find something the site didn’t have?
How did they look for content? Did they spend a few minutes scrolling through multiple pages before finally giving up? Or did they bounce immediately when that content wasn’t at the top of page one?
Was finding things a huge pain or a minor annoyance?
Were there other aspects of the site they really liked?
To get answers to those questions, you need to see real examples and get direct feedback about the user experience while they experience it.
And for those examples to guide your next actions, you need to find out about them in a timely manner, and get context around:
What the customer was trying to do when they encountered the issue
When they were trying to do it
What they experienced, exactly
How the experience made them feel
Website feedback tools, which help you understand user behavior and website activity, increase the chances that you’ll get the actionable feedback you need by showing you exactly what’s happening on your site and letting you hear about the user experience directly from your users, themselves.
How Incoming Feedback provides actionable product feedback
You can collect insightful customer feedback using tools like surveys and general feedback forms. But to get the most actionable feedback—with the full context of where and when an issue occurred, and how it affected the user and product experience—your best bet is to use a website feedback widget.
Website feedback widgets give your customers the opportunity to rate their experience and provide specific information about issues or blockers they encounter in your product, giving you a broader voice of the customer picture of your website.
Hotjar's Incoming Feedback widget lets users and customers provide instant feedback when they run into an issue—or provide kudos when they come across an aspect of your product they really like.
Customers can attach a screenshot of the page element they loved or hated, so you know exactly which features of your product are working well or need to be improved. The widget tracks feedback over time, too, so you can measure progress and spot trends.
The Incoming Feedback widget captures user’s in-the-moment product experience, giving you insight into how your website—or at least the experience they just had in it—makes them feel. This can be an indicator of how the issues they run into impact their overall perspective of your product: find out if they’re really frustrated with a particular feature, or learn how much a new element of your product delights them.
Thinking back to our earlier example: without a feedback widget, you may go weeks without knowing there’s an issue with navigation and architecture. But with Incoming Feedback, you'll be notified right away when one of your users is having trouble finding something and can bring their feedback into your product workflow.
Here are some other ways project and product management teams use Hotjar's Incoming Feedback widget:
Capture voice of the customer (VoC) feedback to get a sense of customer delight or frustration with your product.
Perform user research to get an understanding of the user’s impression of new product launches or various product features.
Understand what’s working (and what’s not) with your product or website design.
Help you identify and manage technical debt when introducing new features.
“The incoming feedback widget is a way of keeping in touch with your users and connecting with them,” according to Josh Morales, Lead Product Researcher at Hotjar.
“The questions you ask could range from the generic 'How was your experience today?' to highly specific questions about a particular aspect of your page (e.g. ‘What do you think about the new blog posts?’).
“The type of question varies as well: even though it's mostly used to capture the reaction in form of emojis or the famous NPS® (both very concrete and quantitative answers), it's also a fantastic resource to get some qualitative feedback and potentially even follow-up with a chat.”
💡 Pro tip: you may know that you can watch Hotjar Session Recordings to see how users experience your product, but did you know you can filter Recordings by user sessions that have Incoming Feedback?
By using the two tools together, you can quickly identify issues and prioritize fixes by placing the user’s feedback in the full context of their session. Watch the recording to see what actions the user took leading up to their problem, and get a better idea of what may have gone wrong.
Using Incoming Feedback to identify and communicate issues
Let’s take a look at what the Incoming Feedback widget can do in a real-world example.
Product manager Kent McDonald recently experimented with the Incoming Feedback widget on his current site. Here’s what he found:
“I installed Hotjar's Incoming Feedback widget on my site a couple of weeks ago, so I could get in front of critical product issues, and received some feedback about a phantom text box on my login page which was causing confusion for my users.
I saw the Incoming Feedback in a Slack message (thanks to the Slack and Hotjar integration).
I took a look at the full response from the Slack notification.
This gave me an idea of what the user experienced when they ran into the problem.
I selected View More Insights to see if there was a Hotjar Recording of the session, to understand what the user experienced and how they interacted on the page leading up to the point where they left the feedback.
Sure enough, the session was recorded, so I could watch the recording and get even more insight. The user didn’t do anything out of the ordinary getting to the login page, but I noticed that they scrolled up and down the page as if they were looking for some instructions.
That told me that I needed to provide some guidance to users and get the phantom text box removed.
I contacted the user to thank them for their feedback and let them know they just needed to provide a username and password. Then, I added some instructions to the login page and contacted the developer of the site theme, and asked them to remove the phantom text box.
Being able to see the site from a users' perspective isn’t always possible, but a combination of Incoming Feedback and Recordings made it possible to see through their eyes.
Because the Incoming Feedback tool also gives the user the opportunity to provide contact information, I was able to immediately help the user to login and start a deeper conversation about their thoughts on the site overall.”
Get actionable feedback on your product now
The sooner you can get product feedback with the proper context, the sooner you can identify, communicate, and address critical issues that are impacting your customer’s experience in your product.
🤔 What do your users really want from your product?
Use the Incoming Feedback widget to collect product feedback directly from your users so you can identify what needs to change—and how to change it.
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