By Alex Nelson
In an ever-changing market, where technological advances and paradigm shifts happen daily, how do you make sure your products stay relevant? How do you stay on point when your market is an ever-evolving, moving target? At ZX Ventures, we have learned the importance of staying close to our customers and letting them drive our innovations, from the outset of a new product all the way through to its realization. Customer feedback keeps us focused on our most important goal: ensuring that our products are helpful and useful every day.
We start getting customer input at the very beginning of our product-design process. We set up initial face-to-face learning sessions with our end consumers to help us design products that they actually need and want. When we’re first launching a product, that level of in-depth customer access helps us to understand our users’ concerns. Our approach also allows us to observe our users’ current solutions so we can learn about the problems they have and why they’re dissatisfied. We then iteratively use that information to design a better product, observe our users’ trials with the new product, and get immediate user feedback on how well it works.
As we move from initial plan and design into scaling up a new tech product, we use metrics to help us keep a finger on the pulse of our customers’ use experience and to measure their overall satisfaction with our products. Net Promoter Scores are the primary metric for tracking customer satisfaction and potential business virality. We also use other metrics for tracking customer behavior, such as one-click surveys, page view counts, and search term analysis, to develop deeper business insights.
One of the easiest ways we build customer feedback loops is through traditional customer service contacts. Accessibility is the key. Online chat windows are standard practice, but we also ask, in every email or contact with our customers, for their feedback on how we’re doing. Users can respond to all of our business emails so we don’t miss out on these direct means of getting feedback! Social media comments are another straightforward way to monitor how our customers feel about our business and about our competitors. We track consumer sentiment and respond rapidly to complaints or concerns, allowing us to keep a pulse on our users. We also assemble panels of our top customers—our most loyal fans—and rely on their feedback for new business ideas.
We stay involved with customer feedback loops by making our customer service team an integral part of our organization. We want to know that our customers’ top issues are on everyone’s radar. Our product team spends time every week working directly with customer service, reading emails, chat histories, and other comments. Because our team members stay close to the customers and hear about their issues firsthand, they can be responsive to our users’ needs.
What we learn from our customer feedback loops directly influences our product strategy and our development road map. Did our competitor just launch a new feature? What are customers saying about it? How can we offer them something different and stay relevant? Making sure our customers have ways to reach out to us, and that everyone on our team hears what they’re saying and responds to it, is how we evolve with a changing marketplace.