Feature Surveys: The Secret to Building the Best Product You Can
The one question SaaS Product teams around the world are losing sleep over now is: “How can we make our product even better?”
If you want to know the answer, the simplest way is to ask your customers. But that’s actually when things become complicated…You can’t just ask your customers if you have a few thousand users on board. You would drown in qualitative data and probably never reach any conclusions. What you need to do to ‘ask your customers at scale’ is conduct feature surveys.
Feature surveys enable Product teams to listen to the voice of the customer at scale, and then use the insights that users provide to improve their product.
Essentially, you’re democratizing product development. You’re giving the people that use your product the chance to influence how you improve it.
This is really important for a number of reasons, which I’ll get to soon.
In this article, I’m going to explain what feature surveys are, why they’re so important, and then how you can start using them to collect the information you need.
By the end, you’ll be ready to add surveys to your product, and start collecting valuable feedback that you can use to build the best product you can.
- What are feature surveys?
- Why are feature surveys important?
- How to add feature surveys to your product (+ the best tools)
- How to make your feature surveys more effective
What are feature surveys?
Before we delve into the bones of feature surveys, I want to start by explaining exactly what they are.
Ultimately, feature surveys are a way of collecting user feedback about a specific feature of your product.
Now that feedback could be about an existing feature, or it could be about a feature that your users would like to see in future.
The feedback can be positive or negative, focus on improvements, or it could contain different solutions to the problem the feature is trying to solve.
The key thing you need to remember with these surveys is that they enable you to collect detailed feedback about a feature of your choosing.
Once you have enough feedback, you can start combing through it to pick out key insights. These insights may then inform you and your Product team, helping you to decide which improvements to make, or which features to add to your product.
What do feature surveys look like?
If you use a lot of SaaS products, chances are you’ll have seen a few examples of feature surveys.
Here’s what Slack’s survey looks like:
Users can open this survey as and when they choose. Self-service is very important, as I’ll explain later.
Slack provides a number of answers on the feature surveys to help guide users who might not know exactly what to say. This also helps them analyse the feedback – it turns qualitative feedback into quantitative answers.
The feature survey itself appears in a pop-up modal, so you can’t miss it.
Here’s another example from Hotjar:
As with Slack’s example, Hotjar have chosen to adopt a self-service approach.
They combine a CSAT survey (the different faces) with a more detailed question. This gives them both quantitative and qualitative data. You could also combine feature surveys with Net Promotor Score (NPS) surveys.
As you can see, most feature surveys are simple and to the point. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for your users to provide their feedback.
Why are feature surveys important?
Hopefully you’re starting to realize why feature surveys are so important.
The best SaaS products aren’t built in a vacuum. You need to take various inputs, and convert them into your output (your product).
Inputs can include user research, user testing, your own intuition, market analysis, and so on. The list is exhaustive, but it’s safe to say that the more inputs you have, the better your output will be.
Feature surveys are one of those inputs. And they’re important because they offer a way of finding out how your actual users feel about various parts of your product.
Rather than guessing about which features need improving, or what you should be working on next, you can ask the people who use your product day-in, day-out.
That means you get honest, unfiltered feedback about your product’s features. Plus you then know what you need to build in order to make your customer happy.
And you don’t need me to tell you that happy customers stick around for the long-term.
Essentially, feature surveys do three crucial things:
- Help you understand what your customers need
- Show customers that you value their opinion
- Enable you to build the best possible product
And that’s why they’re so important.
How to add feature surveys to your product
Considering how important feature surveys are, it’s worth taking the time to get them right.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult. There are lots of great tools out there to help you add surveys to your product in no time at all.
We’ll get to those later.
First, let’s look at how you should approach feature surveys. It’s important to get a process in place, otherwise your feedback will be wasted.
I like to think of any feedback process as having three distinct stages:
If you want to use your feature survey feedback effectively, then you need to make sure you’re collecting the right information.
I’ve already shown you two examples of surveys for Slack and Hotjar. One thing you might have noticed is that each is collecting slightly different information.
So, your first step is to decide what you want to know.
This largely depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. If, for example, you want to understand which features are less useful, then you could consider asking that question on your feature surveys, perhaps with a scale from 1-10.
Or perhaps you want to collect less structured feedback, to understand what improvements could be made. In this case you’d use a text field on your surveys.
Asking the right questions is the only way to get the right answers.
You also need to keep it simple. Feature surveys are meant to be focused and specific. If you ask more than 2 questions then your users will be far less likely to actually complete the survey.
Now that you’re collecting the right information, you need to make sure you store it correctly.
Most of the tools that enable you to build surveys will also provide a database of any responses you collect.
But it’s important to make sure that your feature survey database is two things: Organized and accessible.
Organized means that you can easily look through the data you collect and understand it. It means if you have a question you can quickly and easily find the answer. It also involves ensuring your database is simple enough that anyone (even the non-data people) can use the responses.
Which brings us to accessibility. There’s no use having all of this information if only a couple of people have access to it. That’ll create bottlenecks when other people without access need to go through the “gatekeepers” to find out the answers.
You need to provide access to anyone who needs it. Whether it’s your Product team, your Sales team, or your CEO.
You aren’t collecting and storing all this data from your feature surveys for nothing. You need to be able to use the information to guide your decision-making.
To do this, you need to return to the initial question you wanted to ask with your feature surveys.
If you wanted to know how you could improve a certain feature, for example, then you can now look at your user’s responses to your feature surveys.
These responses will typically end up falling into the same patterns. You can then see what the most common responses are, and use those to inform your decision-making.
Remember it shouldn’t be a case of building whatever users ask for. Sometimes you may need more information to get extra context, sometimes users don’t even know what they really want.
But feature surveys do give you extra information, and you should introduce that information into any decision-making processes that you currently use.
The best feature survey tools
In terms of the actual process of adding surveys to your product, there’s a lot of choice out there. It can be a little overwhelming.
So I thought I’d share my top three tools for adding feature surveys.
Although Userpilot is primarily known as a user onboarding platform, it also has excellent functionality for adding feature surveys to your product.
You can create surveys that contain text inputs or radio buttons. Each feature survey can be completely customized in terms of appearance, with no coding required. You’re able to ensure your surveys match your branding and the feel of your product.
You can then set various triggers. For example, you can make your feature surveys appear when a user clicks a certain button, or scrolls a certain distance.
You can also make a number of different surveys, one for each part of your product. This means you can then collect feedback for different features all at once.
Another useful feature that Userpilot provides is the ability to segment who can see the surveys. If, for example, you only want your most active users to see the surveys, then you can create an audience and only certain users will trigger them.
Once you’ve started collecting your feedback with Userpilot’s feature surveys, you can see all of your responses in one dashboard. You can then start figuring out what to do with your information.
You can also add multiple users so that anyone who needs to see the data can have access.
Userpilot offers a simple-yet-powerful way of adding feature surveys to your product.
Why not get started with a free trial today?
Wootric offers robust feature surveys functionality, enabling you to collect information from your users, as well as measure NPS, CSAT, and CES.
Wootric offers all the features you’d expect, including conditional triggering, being able to place feature surveys on specific pages of your product, and a dashboard to analyze the responses you collect.
Where Wootric falls short, however, is that a lot of the functionality, such as triggering, needs to be added through code. For non-coders who want to collect data, this may be a stumbling block.
The other weakness that Wootric has is that it only offers limited customization of the actual surveys. For starters, most of Wootric’s functionality is based around NPS (Net Promoter Score). If you don’t want NPS, then you may need a different feature surveys tool.
Also, in terms of appearance, you can really only choose between a light mode and a dark mode. This means the surveys won’t always match perfectly with your product’s branding and UI.
The final tool on the list, Survicate, enables you to collect feedback using a feedback tab that appears somewhere on your product. When a user clicks the tab, it opens up a feedback widget where your feature surveys live.
Survicate offers various templated feature surveys to get you up and running right away, or you can create your own from scratch.
It also offers branching pathway functionality, so that people who respond to your surveys will be asked different questions depending on how they answer.
The main issue with Survicate is that it’s perhaps too complicated. As I’ve mentioned, you don’t want to have long, drawn-out feature surveys — you need to keep them simple.
Survicate is also limited when it comes to how you trigger the surveys, so if you’re wanting to target users based on attributes or in-app behaviors, then you’ll need to look elsewhere.
How to make your feature surveys more effective
Once you’ve added your feature surveys to your product, you can start collecting the data you need.
But your surveys need to be optimized if you want to collect the best possible responses.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind when adding surveys to your product…
Feature surveys should be focused
I’ve mentioned this already but it’s so important I want to mention it again.
Feature surveys work because they’re laser-focused on a specific feature, and even a specific question.
Your surveys need to be short and to the point. Three questions is too many. Two questions is okay. One question is ideal.
Remember that your surveys take place within your product. That means you don’t want to distract from your actual product for too long. Either it will impact your users’ product usage, or it will mean that they don’t provide you with any useful information.
Whenever you create your feature surveys, focus on the one thing you’re wanting to find out about that specific feature. Then ask about it.
Feature surveys should be clear
Feature surveys are often small and compact, you don’t have a lot of real estate to use.
That’s partly the point. It’s supposed to be quick and easy to fill in your response to surveys.
That’s why it’s really important that your question is as clear as possible. You might only have 10-15 words in which to communicate what you want to know.
Make sure your question gets to the point, doesn’t use jargon or technical language, and is simple enough for every user to understand.
For example, you might be interested in learning how quick users reach the Aha! Moment. Chances are, most of your users don’t know what that is, so it would be unwise to use that term in your survey.
You can also consider using form fields to add extra information. For example, if you have a text input, consider adding some placeholder text to show the kind of answer you’re expecting.
A little guidance like that can go a long way when it comes to collecting useful responses from feature surveys.
Feature surveys should be optional
If you cast your mind all the way back to those first examples of feature surveys I showed you, you might remember that I mentioned that they were both self-serve.
What I meant by that is that the user has to choose to open the surveys and provide their feedback.
You can do this in a few different ways. You can add a tab on the side of the screen, or you can add a link to the main nav. Whatever works best for you.
The point is that you aren’t forcing your users to complete your surveys. Doing that would only serve to annoy them and distract them from using your product.
Plus, it means you have to manually decide when you collect feedback.
By making your feature surveys optional and always-accessible, you’re respecting your users while also giving them the opportunity to give feedback as and when they choose.
- Feature surveys are a way of collecting user feedback about a specific feature of your product, such as how usable it is, or what could be improved.
- Feature surveys help you understand customer needs, build relationships with your users, and ultimately make a better product.
- You need to make sure you collect the right information, store it somewhere where anyone who needs access has it, and then use the data to make informed product decisions.
- Userpilot makes it really easy to add feature surveys to your product. You can customize them completely without code, and use triggers to ensure the most relevant users answer your questions.
- The best feature surveys are focused on one topic (ideally even just one question), are clear and easy to understand, and are optional but always open for self-service.
About the author:
Joe is a content writer, with several years of experience working with SaaS startups. He’s also the founder of Turing, a conversation design agency, making chatbots more human.