For Effective Product Testing, You Need More Than Generic Surveys

Why Generic Approaches Can’t Compete with Purpose-Built Technology and Real Users

The one constant in product development is that the end user needs to like the final product. Sounds pretty obvious, right? But even if your company is focused on meeting this requirement, the way you’re going about it could be hurting more than helping.

One of the key steps in any product development process is collecting and applying user feedback. Here, in product research and product testing, the details really matter.

Think of it this way – would you rather get feedback on your new basketball shoe design from basketball players, or just “people who have shopped at a sporting goods store within the last year”?

Any company in the midst of product development wants to get valuable, actionable feedback from real users. The methodology for collecting this feedback is changing, and being successful in your product development process is deeply related to your feedback strategy.

The Changing Landscape of Customer Surveys

Forbes reports that 39% of researchers expect the quality of surveys to worsen in the next few years. The publication calls for an evolution of the long-followed trends in consumer surveying to ensure high-quality, useful feedback.

Let’s consider a few of the immediate drawbacks to generic customer surveys, and other ways of approaching the feedback process:

Survey participants might not be the best to give feedback on your specific product. Going back to the basketball shoe example, you’ll want product testers to have backgrounds, interests and lifestyles that match up exactly with the product you’re developing – not just a generic, potential fit.

Talk to the Right People 

Leverage a vast community of product testers in all walks of life who can provide valuable insights about your product because of their relevant backgrounds, interests and lifestyles. They elect to be part of the community and the feedback process, which gives you the peace of mind that you’re obtaining information from dedicated users who feel comfortable in their digital community, are engaged, give quality feedback, and don’t fatigue during longer surveys.

Survey participants might not be able to tell you the whole story. They can answer the specific questions you ask, but there’s often much more to it. Additional information about their previous experiences, hands-on experiences, perspectives and preferences sits uncollected when this information could very well build the story you need to take your product to the next level.

Use the Right Feedback Channels

Go beyond the survey. And that statement doesn’t just mean use a more advanced survey technology like decision logic. It means putting a purpose-built product testing platform to the test and taking advantage of numerous feedback channels, including images, video, respondent logs, heat-mapping, mark-ups, and more. There are deeper details to the user’s story than the provided response they select. Make sure you have the forums to let them tell you that story.

You’ve hit your feedback goals, and now it’s time to uncover the findings. All you can see are the stats and figures, some differences, and some trends as you continue to slice your way to a clearer picture. You see some patterns start to take shape, but you can’t seem to get to the underlying “why.”

Pull the Information Together and Make Sense of it All

Talk to the right people, use the right feedback channels, and pull it all together in one place. The ability to reference participants’ comments and hold that information alongside their volunteered feedback logs, images, and mark-ups gets you to the underlying “why” faster and more accurately. As opposed to trying to wrangle this story from multiple fractured feedback sources, a purpose-built product testing platform is already set up for efficient success.

The Difference Between Generic Research and Community User Feedback

The goal of any product development process is to create and launch a product that will not only be a hit, but will outperform your competition. Market research helps identify opportunities and collect early customer feedback, but if you don’t do this step the right way, all your market research will be is just that – research.

Get the kind of actionable information that can only come from a community of users with relevant, documented insights you can act on quickly, easily and effectively. These types of targeted users don’t fall out of the sky; rather, they occupy a product research and testing platform that is purpose-built for product development.

Generic surveys are likely to collect generic answers from generic users. This type of approach is fine if you’re wondering what kind of emotion your logo may create in a slice of the general population, but when it comes to product research and product testing, you want the best information for the task, which comes from users who already play in your space and are part of a relevant and reliable product feedback community.

Your products are anything but generic – so don’t test them that way.