Some projects, especially software, are forever in a state that most would say is “a work in progress” – as your software is adopted and used across the market, your user base will generate opinions, good and bad, in the form of user feedback. These valuable bits of information should serve as major contributors in designating direction for maintenance and further development of your app.
Internal testing aside, nothing quite replaces genuine feedback from your user base. The key to building lean MVPs is through iterative development where developers rapidly develop iterations tailored around feedback loops. In this piece, we’ll discuss the importance of collecting and analyzing feedback and cover a few ideas to help you stay in touch with your users.
Why user feedback is important
There are those among us that love karaoke but are horrible singers. And that’s ok, so long as you’re not making people’s ears bleed.
Unless you’re in a competition, it doesn’t matter how well you sing or how people in the audience might feel about your musical chops. However, this rule doesn’t apply everywhere and software is no exception. This is one area where the opinion of an audience has everything to do with your success.
Making a fool of yourself singing in public is of little consequence (hopefully) where losing audience members doesn’t count for anything. But losing audience members of an app means losing revenue – being “off-key” with user feedback, especially grievances, is a sure way to shoo these individuals off to other pastures.
Some customers do complain just to do it – it’s also been observed that people complain because it’s easier than taking action and with regards to an app, it’s usually their only avenue to express a grievance unless a complaint is submitted to customer service.
Fortunately, this odd phenomenon ends up being useful when properly engaged. Dig through all the information you receive as obnoxious or mean-spirited reviews have merit just like honest complaints. Understanding how people feel about your app allows you to appropriately pivot and keep existing users happy as well as eventually please new subscribers as well.
Identifying feedback sources
Feedback can come from a variety of places – some of these platforms are inherent to having a published app while others need to be set up or discovered with a little more work.
For example, Google Play and the App Store both have built-in tools for user reviews which is a great place to start a user feedback analytics project. Other data should come from more involved efforts such as setting up custom questionnaires which we’ll cover in the next section.
We tend to think that feedback is both concrete and unilateral. In some respect, this is true as you can’t really contest a review when a bad review lands somewhere on the Internet. However, it is the bedrock for feedback loops that aid businesses in learning from a series of collecting and adapting to user feedback.
You can learn both from good and bad reviews by collecting and parsing all the information available to you. Let’s look at some of the platforms and methods businesses can use to gauge how they’re doing and where they can improve.
Gathering and analyzing feedback
There are several ways to review content from user reviews – giving users as many platforms as possible allows you to be as comprehensive as possible.
Companies have the choice of building a natural language processing platform with solutions like AWS Comprehend but most find it faster and even more cost-effective to use existing service from a company that specializes in analyzing unstructured data. Once you know how you’ll interpret data, you can look at the following sources for user review.
Use Google Play and App Store reviews. This is perhaps the most official way to collect feedback. Reviews on either platform are highly accessible both for actual users to leave reviews and for others to research.
Both Google and Apple have methods for app publishers to export user reviews in CSV formats. These respective files are useful for analytics engines that use language to search for variations of certain phrases and keywords.
This leads to certain benefits. For example, you may learn there are pervasive issues with a certain feature that never surfaced with traditional testing but happen on the production app. Users tend to plug such information into their reviews so this data becomes highly meaningful and ultimately, useful in improving the UX.
Read reviews on major websites. In keeping track of areas where you’ve been published or mentioned you can transform user comments into anything from ideas for future developments or learn about areas in your app that need to be fixed or improved. Even though you may not have an official way to export this information, you can still copy the information from the page. It may require some finagling but the data you collect will be revealing and hence, useful.
The nice part about such public data is that it doesn’t necessarily need to be about your app. Similar apps or competitors can be analyzed to better understand their features as well as call attention to areas where there is a complaint. By delving into the nooks and crannies of how others perceive different platforms, this information should be used when planning for future developments or even when performing routine maintenance.
Create a custom survey. If you’re maintaining a mailing list for your users, consider putting together user feedback questions and creating a custom survey. You can use user feedback tools like those built into SurveyMonkey to analyze responses Too, something as simple as Google Forms can be used to create custom surveys that collect user feedback. From here, you can use either set of information to feed into a machine learning app for processing or possibly manually interpret.
Analyze engagement with your available tools. You should be getting some automatic feedback from consoles like Firebase Analytics or Mixpanel which show objective data like retention rates, user paths, and drop of points. If someone doesn’t like an app and deletes it, their usage trajectory should be considered far more useful than a brief response that states the user didn’t like the app. Movement is revealing so use this to your advantage.
In newer apps, it’s not uncommon to see users engage with an app despite frustrations with certain portions. You can use bug reporting tools like Bugsee that simply requires the user to shake the device to bring up a bug report form or choose one of many others like Crashlytics or Sentry. By working feedback on real problems into user feedback loops, developers can quickly resolve problems to improve the UX.
If you run an eCommerce business, you’ll likely have a support center for customers which can be a great toolset for collecting user feedback. For those using human customer service reps to engage customers for sales and support, chat scripts can be analyzed through one of many free or paid NLP services.
Another good way to collect feedback is through services like Intercom which allows developers to integrate chat boxes on web pages which automate the fielding of a chat before handing off the conversation to a human. Not only can conversations be reviewed for feedback purposes, but it’s also possible to offer surveys as the end to collect feedback.
Don’t bombard your users seeking feedback. We’ve all experienced a time when we’re using an app and an awkward message comes from left field asking you to rate the app. Don’t do this.
For starters, it’s intrusive. While it is commonplace for companies to ask for feedback, there are smarter ways to approach the problem than tackling the situation similar to how a child sheepishly asks their crush if they “like them” on the playground.
Try to hint at leaving feedback and build a link that allows users to submit a rating on the App Store or Google Play at their leisure. You could also consider building a survey to collect more comprehensive on your software as reviews in digital stores are fairly passive. Too, don’t forget to build in bug reporting as mentioned above as this opens a new channel for highly-specific feedback on functionality.
Blue Label Labs can help you improve your existing app
No matter how you choose to analyze user data, make sure this part of your company’s routine. Get in touch with us at Blue Label Labs and we can teach you how to interpret your user data, advise you how to move forward, and develop a better version of your software.
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