How to get the best possible feedback from your customers

And the question is ...Thought I'd share the user feedback story we had with our startup.

ManageWP allows users to manage WordPress blogs.  It is still free and one of the things we were always wondering is how much to price the product once we launch it.

There are no similar serious products on the market to compare the prices with. The closest match is Auttomatic owned VaultPress which offers only the backups and starts at $15/month per website. That seemed excessive, although automatic backups are only one of the many features of ManageWP.

We were initially thinking that about $5/month per website sounded right, but that did not scale very good (some of our users manage hundreds of websites).

Then a friend suggested: "Why don't you just ask the users?". And this little ingenious line sparked it all.

Ask the users

At first the idea sounded strange. I thought the users would never bother answering.

And even if they did, I thought they would give us strongly biased information that we wouldn't be able to use for making the decision.

But having no better idea, we did it anyway. We put a pricing survey form on our Plans & Pricing page.

The original form had these questions:

  • How many blogs do you manage?
  • What would you pay for ManageWP (monthly, or yearly)?
  • Are there any features missing that would make you pay more for ManageWP?
  • Additional comments

And surely the answers started coming in. As a matter of fact it ran so very well that about 20% of all users coming to this page filled in the survey. We got over 700 responses in just two months!

And the quality of answers were great. Some people suggested even higher pricing than we had in mind and were giving us great feedback on why they thought it was a product worth their money.

That is an incredible wealth of information and a fantastic insight into our potential customer's needs and opinions.  And the best thing is we got it all for free, just by asking a question.

Next step - get even better feedback

Getting the survey up is great way to get started but you can get even better results if you ask the right questions.

Thing was, with our original form we had two questions that were similar (extra features and comments) so we were not getting the best feedback we could. Also the price question was ambiguous and we were getting  ambiguous answers (didn't always know if the user gave us yearly or monthly price).

So we changed the questions.

Instead of asking about extra features that would make them pay more we simply asked "How did you find about ManageWP?".

This simple change gave us so much more relevant and actionable feedback. We were not spending any money on advertising the service, so if there was a particular forum or blog that promoted ManageWP, we should definitely get engaged. This is the kind of information we started getting.

We also changed the price question to just "How much are you willing to pay monthly?". A straight question now gives us much more useful, straight answers.

"Additional comments" became "Place for additional feedback, feature requests, suggestions" which asks the user in better way what is it that we expect from them. This also proved to be an improvement as the feedback we started getting was longer and more insightful.

Taking it a step further

I am an absolute believer in user feedback now. This should be the driving force behind any company, especially a startup.

Next thing we did was to implement instant feedback feature into our product. So when you log into your ManageWP dashboard, there are two smiley icons on the bottom of the screen - a happy and a sad one.

Clicking them allows you to write and send feedback immediately.

The reason it works so well is because the user does not have to wait for an extra page to load, there is no logging in or filling the forms. It allows them to basically have their feedback submitted within five seconds.

This is a fantastic way to interact with your users. The idea is not ours, it came from CodebaseHQ, a company we happily use for out git hosting.

And I'd like to mention Google Moderator. It is a fantastic service for users to submit ideas, which other users can vote up. It is completely free and it works really well.

Here is our ManageWP ideas forum and at this time we have 250 ideas submitted, sharing total of 2,291 of user votes. This gives us clear message about features that are "in demand" .

Conclusion

I feel that many of our users loved participating in the survey and were happy that we asked for their opinion. And for us, a young startup, the feedback we got was just beyond precious.

We are quickly fixing any bugs that users submit through our instant feedback. And the ideas forum practically paves the road for the product on it's own.

If you want user feedback, do not be afraid to ask for it. The power of many hugely outweighs the power of one.

ps. If you wonder how much ManageWP will cost, we decided to go with about $0.20 per website monthly, and remain free for up to five websites ;)


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8 Comments

  1. Tay
    Sep 23rd, 2011 6:36 AM

    Interesting article. I noticed that you chose to make the price point question open-ended. Any particular reason as to why? I imagine that parsing the results would have to be manual given the different ways people could present their choice as strings; e.g, entering "5 bucks", "five dollars", "$5", "$5-$10", and not to mention the different currencies. Was this a cumbersome task?

    The alternative, of course, would be to do something like provide 3 or 4 price points that you thought were reasonable and then maybe have a textfield for 'Other' that could accept open ended answers. Some automated stats/charting could be possible here with the predefined values.

    Thoughts?

    • Sep 23rd, 2011 8:57 AM

      Yep that would be an improvement - for now I am just happy to review each answer manually.

  2. Sep 22nd, 2011 1:17 PM

    Hmmm, what a great trick, actually thought it different when i read to the end. well done!

  3. Sep 20th, 2011 6:17 PM

    What a good post, really thought provoking.
    I think I shared your initial view that people wouldn't both to answer.

    Nicholas's suggestion of a WP plugin is a good one too. Look forward to it!

  4. Sep 16th, 2011 8:37 PM

    Thanks for sharing own experience. It seems like first link to Google Moderator lacks for letter "r" at the end of URL.

    • Sep 16th, 2011 8:45 PM

      Yep you were right, fixed. Cheers

  5. Sep 16th, 2011 2:27 PM

    Interesting article. I think your "instant feedback" in the Dashboard functionality could work well as a stand alone plugin in itself.
    Congrats on the launch of your paid for service!

    • Sep 16th, 2011 8:46 PM

      Thank you very much, and thanks for the idea.