Customer feedback is the cornerstone of building a strong relationship with them. You can always interact with people on social media or let your customer support team do all the communication. However, stressing the importance of customer feedback collection will help you build empathy and trust with your users. After all, people like to be considered, and usually want to be involved in the development of the product they’re using. This way, they can contribute to improving something that they’re enjoying.
But not all customer feedback is the same.
And although you should encourage all of your users to share their input, you’ll want to decide whose feedback is most important to consider. As Graham Ó Maonaigh, senior growth marketing manager at Intercom, reflects, “Do you pay equal attention to all the nuggets of wisdom people give you? Unlikely. Chances are the friends you’ve known the longest are the people whose opinions you’ll trust the most. The stranger you just met on a bus who told you emphatically what you should do with your life? You’re probably not going to put as much weight on their views.”
The same is true in a business situation. The type and profile of your users, along with the relationship they have with your brand, should influence how much credit you’ll give their feedback.
Why the profile of your users matters when collecting customer feedback
You might be familiar with the saying, “Whoever gets closer to the customer wins.” That’s something Bernadette Jiwa, the global authority on business philosophy, once said, and she nailed it. Even Drift’s CEO, David Cancel, praised this idea in a ProfitWell video.
And building a feedback collection system is the best way of getting closer to your customers. That’s something we’ve observed and experienced countless times at Upvoty, both in our case and in the case of the clients we’ve helped turn customer feedback into actionable product improvements. However, you can’t and shouldn’t focus on all of your clients. Their types vary, resulting in different input quality and relevance. Here are some of the reasons why the type of users matter when collecting customer feedback:
Reason 1: Not everyone uses your product the same way
We all want to get our customers to use our SaaS tools daily if possible. However, in some cases, people may use your platform occasionally, while other customers may use it a few times per day. This difference in use frequency may lead to a poorer understanding of your product for those who are accessing it less. That’s why you’ll want to regard their feedback as less of a priority than those who are fully engaged in using your software.
Reason 2: Not all of your users need your product long term
Like it or not, depending on your product type, some customers may use it for only a few months and then cancel their subscription. This may happen if they’ve never used your platform, yet they need it for a very specific, one-off project. Let’s say, for example, that someone has to build a series of documents or infographics in Canva and has three to four months to do it. They may decide to pay for the Canva subscription for a few months to get everything they need, and then, once the deliverables are ready, cancel the subscription.
There will be a big difference between the feedback of people who are providing you with recurring revenue and the feedback of those who are just interested in using your product for a small project.
Reason 3: Not all of your users solve burning pains with your product
You may think you know the extent of your product’s use. However, your users are the ones who’ll decide how they can streamline your software. Having this in mind, know that some customers may use your product for trivial things, while others may solve big company problems with it.
Say you’ve developed time-tracking software. Some people may pay for your software and use it as a personal time log journal, which is great, but it also means they’ll take less advantage of the whole capacity your product can deliver. Other brands, on the other hand, will use the same tool to track the activity and value of their employees who are working at home due to COVID-19.
They’ll use most of your software to assign tasks, keep everyone accountable, track the activity of their freelancers, and have a better view of everyone’s workload. Comparing these two different users, we can see that the second user is much more invested and is using your product to solve bigger challenges. This will result in a higher understanding of your product and better feedback.
Reason 4: Not all of your users have an equal investment in your product
Let’s admit it: There’s a big difference between “freemium” users (in case you’re providing this option, although we’re not fully supporting it) and people who pay for your product. There’s also a big difference between those who have bought a basic plan and those who have paid for an entire year. People who have made a significant investment in your product are much more eager and interested in its improvement, thus their feedback will carry more relevance.
Reason 5: Not all of your users have insightful and valuable feedback
Finally, let’s admit that not all of your customers are capable of providing meaningful input. This may occur because of their poor lack of product understanding, or because their feedback isn’t aligned with your roadmap. Likewise, their input can be impossible to use because of the unrealistic expectations they may have about your SaaS product. So the last thing you want is to waste time and team effort to make sense of some of the feedback you’ll be receiving.
Don’t make a rule out of it and assume that if someone provided useless feedback, then that person can never offer any valuable feedback at all, because that very same user may come back with a helpful suggestion. However, it’s important to classify all of your user profiles and focus on those who are consistent in providing value and sharing their interest in the improvement of your SaaS platform.
Considering the reasons why you shouldn’t treat all customer feedback equally, you need a clear user classification framework that will help you quickly understand how to prioritize the user input.
Criteria to consider when classifying the type of users giving feedback
To save time and effort, you’ll want to discuss and agree with your team upon the types of users you’re serving. This will help you prioritize customer feedback correctly and spend your resources on those insights that will make a difference.
Start by building a user classification framework based on five clear product user criteria:
The user experience
As Graham Ó Maonaigh notes in his Intercom article, “Do you have some new customers who only started using your product six months ago but use it heavily? They’re likely to have a lot of insightful feedback.”
The first criterion to consider when designing a user classification framework is the experience. This means you should look at factors such as the date when someone became a customer and the overall number of hours they’ve spent on your platform. This will show that they have a greater understanding of your product and are more eager to change certain things about it to improve their workflow.
So pay special attention to your power users who can teach themselves your platform to someone new. They’re the ones who can take the best advantage of your software and achieve great results that can later become success stories.
What can you do about those users who were inactive for an entire month and then came back with a series of product-related inputs? You can’t ignore their feedback, yet it’s important to classify your users depending on how often they use your product.
How much are they involved in achieving great results by using your software? This information is crucial, especially considering that those who are using your SaaS platform more often have a greater retention potential, and these are the people you want to give priority to and keep happy.
The overall investment
As we discussed above, there’s a big difference between users who have a free plan and users who are paying to unlock certain features or solutions. Also, there’s a great deal of difference between someone who’s using your paid product for a few months and someone who paid for an entire year in advance.
The first type of user may be interested in simply exploring your software. The second type has shown their commitment to your product and indicated their interest in using it long term. The overall investment may not be a defining criterion when profiling your user; however, it can definitely give more weight to those who have invested significantly more in your product.
The use case
For example, say you’ve built a complex system to help teams streamline their marketing and sales efforts. You’ve incorporated multiple solutions and features and built an entire library to teach your customers how to get the most out of your product.
And some of your users are interested in your marketing features, while others are more focused on the sales aspect. On the other hand, some of your customers might be using your product to set up email campaigns and publish articles without scoring their leads, while others are taking full advantage of your software and streamlining their entire marketing and sales work by using everything you have to offer.
You should pay attention to all of your paying users, regardless of the use case, but you’ll want to give special leverage to those who are using your platform at its full capacity. They’re the ones who have the best understanding of your product and who may have the best insights and feedback.
Finally, there’s a big difference between a professional or freelancer using your product, and an entire company team accomplishing their tasks with your help. A team will always discuss and tweak things, compare their user experience, ask questions, and look forward to improving things.
They’ll have a collective overview of your product and they’ll distill all this valuable information and come back to you with intuitive feedback. This doesn’t mean you should ignore individual users, but you’ll want to make more space and time for feedback coming from team users.
Final thoughts: Don’t discriminate, but learn to find the diamonds
This article is not an invitation to discriminate against your users. After all, any type of user can give worthwhile feedback. However, as Graham Ó Maonaigh suggests, “Customers who have been loyal the longest have a wealth of experience with your product that makes their opinions particularly valuable.” This is especially true when you’re getting a lot of feedback.
Make sure to classify your user types and prioritize their feedback accordingly so that you can ensure you are developing a strong product strategy and maximizing the value that it can provide.
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