User Feedback is Oxygen – The Discourse #36

What’s good feedback like? What are tools you can use at every stage of your startup?

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If there’s one thing that’s oxygen to startups, it is user feedback.

When you're not getting constant, quality feedback, your startup is starved of the information that will help it survive. Let's first unpack what is good feedback at early stage startups, how do you reduce friction, and build community. Then let’s look at feedback at growth and scale.

At Early Stage

Listen to the right users

If you listen to all user personas, you will end up being pulled in 100 different directions. Often with sub-optimum results. 

To avoid this, make sure you’re qualifying the customers first. That way, you're listening to those who genuinely have the problem you're trying to solve. I’ve covered this in detail in last week’s edition on how to shape the market to your product. So check that out!

What this step will do is keep the signal of the feedback very high.

Constant Feedback

Remove friction. Lower the barriers for feedback. If you expect people to write an email or fill a lengthy form, no one will do it.

I made this mistake in a previous B2B SaaS startup where we used Zendesk to get feedback. We did embed the form into the app, but everytime the user had to fill their name and email address — adding friction.

This resulted in less than 5% of active users giving feedback.

Live chat

Intercom, on the other hand, handles this really well. They integrate directly into the app and get the user’s name and email address when logged in. The user can directly start chatting. And you have the option to chat instantly or respond later via email. 

Tools: Intercom, Drift, Crisp.

Examples: Roam Research, Many YC companies run on Intercom.

Build community

Community has become a necessity for most products now. It helps in several ways:

  • Get feedback from early adopters

  • Facilitate interactions between engaged users forming a cult following

  • Create a space for community members to build extensions on top of the product 

  • Build a flywheel for referrals

Slack groups build community. People post feedback, suggestions, ideas. Other people in the community react and respond. The team gets to observe real time feedback not only from the person who faced the issue or provided the suggestion, but from others as well. 

Of course, this is more helpful when the product is complex. But a part of it should work for simple products as well. 

Tools: Slack, Discord, Circle

Examples: Figma. Autocode, Roam Research


Forms and Email

When live chat no longer is feasible, you should then focus on getting feedback through forms or email that can be processed asynchronously. 

Intercom still works because the expectations of live chat can be set. And the rest of the feedback seamlessly is connected through email.

Tools: Intercom, Typeform

Examples: Shoplo, Notion

At scale


When you start to hit the limit of supporting users in Slack communities, forums become your friend.

You will also need the questions and answers to be visible for others to see — something Slack doesn’t offer. 

Tools: Discourse

Examples: Airtable, Adalo

Feature Requests Board

Another way to get feedback from users is to allow people to see a feature roadmap on a public board and add their votes on them. 

The voting aspect can turn out to be tricky. Often, the most requested feature might not be the one that fits in the product's roadmap. Or there would be an easier way to solve the same problem. You create an unrealistic expectation that the most highly upvoted feature gets prioritized over others.

Tools: Canny, Trello, Notion, UserVoice

Examples: React Native 

Social Media

Often the best source of feedback is wherever your users are hanging out. This can be on Twitter, Product Hunt, or any other platform.

Keeping your eye to the ground is important, no matter what stage you're in. The only disadvantage is that you cannot select from the customer persona here. 

📘  Read of the week: 2021 State of Remote Work - Buffer

That's it for today, thanks for reading!

What feedback tools do you use at work? Comment below and I'll reply. Give feedback and vote on the next topic here.

Talk to you soon!


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