Effective Feedback – No barriers

You want to receive feedback for the work you’re doing to get better. Everybody that read Eric Ries book “The Lean Startup” will realize that short learning phases are essential for the success of a new product or feature. You want to know if you’re developing a stunning functionality or if you’re the only one that thinks this feature is fabulous. This is the start of a new blog series on svenpet.com and it is the first post written in English. I figured out that I’m talking at some big international conferences this autumn so I thought it would make more sense to write my posts in English. I hope you continue reading them. If not, please give me feedback through the comments.

Consistent Feedback

Where do you get feedback if you have no strategy? Sure, you’ll receive feedback through email, via phone or when meeting a user. Where do you capture feedback? Don’t tell me you use Excel, please. You should really use an issue tracker to capture the ideas and issues of your users. Why? Because you want your feedback in a consistent way. You want to know which version the customer is using, which OS or Browser, which menu did he use, when did he experience the problem… These information helps you on one hand, to better reproduce the issue and on the other hand to filter if you have a lot of feedback.

Barrier 1 – Where do I give feedback?

Lots of web pages doesn’t provide a clear guidance for their users to give feedback. You have an issue in one menu but you have to navigate to company/contact/feedback to enter your issue.

Put a feedback button in front of the face of your users. On every page. They don’t have to leave the current menu and will be directly navigated to the feedback page.

Barrier 2 – Way too much work / time!

Here is what happens if you gave feedback from your Confluence instance a few month ago:

  • you were directed to our public issue tracker jira.atlassian.com
  • you needed to sign up for a new account
  • you have entered all your details and created your account
  • you were locked in and have found the “Create Issue” button somewhere
  • you needed to select a project
  • you needed to fill out lots of fields
  • FINALLY you pressed the create issue button

If a user of your software has done all these steps they must love your software a lot or hate your software. And this is the problem: You don’t get feedback from all your customers if you don’t lower the barriers. But let’s be realistic: The most feedback you receive will be negative feedback. You will in most cases just get positive feedback when asking your customers directly.

We have learned and changed the way people gives us feedback. We call the tool the Issue Collector and it is backed into JIRA directly. When the customer wants to give us feedback now he has to do the following steps:

  • pressing the feedback button
  • fill out four fields
  • press “Submit”

Barrier 3 – Too much information!

I wrote  that you want consistent information about the version your customer is using or the OS in order to reproduce the issue or to group issues to see patterns. On the other hand you do not want your customer to enter too much information and most of the time they will not do it in a consistent way. Somebody will write in the OS field “Windows” another one “Windows xp” and another one WinXP”. That’s why we fill in information automatically, like project, component, OS, screen resolution, browser version and so on. This way we have the information in a consistent way.

Removing the barrier for customers is essential to receive feedback and the JIRA Issue Collector can help you with that. But this is just Stage 1 for making your software better through feedback. Stay tuned for the next post!

Effective Feedback – Blog Series

This is part 1 of my “Effective Feedback” blog series. Here are the currently released articles:

Part 2: Effective Feedback – Fake it before you make it

Part 3: Effective Feedback – Make it an Experience

Part 4: Effective Feedback – Involve Developers

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