Chris Redrich

Getting to the Why: 5 Ways to Extract Customer Feedback

Table of Contents

Customer feedback is a double edged sword. Startups need customer feedback to iterate, but making sense of the firehose of information can be overwhelming.

Startups cannot build their companies in a vacuum devoid of customer feedback.

Customer feedback comes from all over the web including Twitter, user forums, Facebook, and Yelp. How do you take this disparate set of comments and make sense of it?

Value vs. Solution Feedback

Let’s talk about two different types of customer feedback you’re startup should be looking for. You’re startup should be placing customer feedback into two buckets: value and solution. Let me explain.

Value feedback helps you understand if the problem you sought to solve is important. To build a successful startup, you must solve a problem that makes your customer open up their wallet and give you money. This type of feedback sounds like:

“I don’t have a need for your product right now.”

“I like your product, but I can’t justify the cost.”

“Your product isn’t the right fit for my needs.”

Solution feedback helps you understand if you’ve adequately solved the problem. This is just as important to your startup’s success. You need to be sure that you’ve solved the problem you claim to solve. This type of feedback sounds like:

“Your product is missing [feature]”

“I need to be able to [end user goal]”

“How do I [end user goal]”

You’ll need to account for both types of customer feedback when trying to learn from your customers. Let’s look at different ways to collect customer feedback.

1. Using surveys for customer feedback

Surveys are the go-to market research solution. They can provide both qualitative and quantitative research insights. If you already have customers, a survey is a great way to gain both value and solution feedback.

Assembling a survey has never been easier. Survey Monkey, Typeform, and Google Forms all allow you to create a customer feedback survey in minutes at little to no cost.

Keep your surveys simple

Use very simple surveys. Long surveys will create abandonment and you won’t gain the insights you’re looking for.

Keep your survey to no more than 10 questions including demographic questions. If your survey is anonymous, demographic questions will help to know a little more about the customer without knowing their name.

Don’t ask leading questions

Leading questions will bias your survey results. Don’t do it.

Bad survey question: Many customers make software purchasing decisions based on price. What influenced your decision to purchase [product]?

Good survey question: What factors did you evaluate when deciding to purchase [product]?

Use open-ended questions to start

Open-ended questions are a good place to start when writing your first survey. Open-ended questions allow respondents to type their own response instead of forcing options on them.

2. Using Net Promoter Score for continual feedback

Many software product companies use the Net Promoter Score as a metric for customer loyalty. The premise is a simple survey that asks 2 simple questions:

  1. How likely are you to recommend [brand, company, or product] to your friends and colleagues? (0-10 rating)
  2. Why?

Responses of 0-6 are your detractors,  7-8 are your passives, and 9-10 are your promoters. By subtracting the percentage of promoters from your detractors, you form your NPS score.

Image Source: Medallia

The theory is that a higher NPS score correlates to higher customer loyalty. The score’s effectiveness is debated. What I like about NPS surveys is actually the second question.

Read every survey response. When your customers respond to an NPS survey, they’ve taken the time to tell you why they either love or hate your product.

When you read through the survey responses, you’ll begin to see patterns. Hone in on those patterns and use one of the other methods in this article to learn more.

Delighted is a new tool that will help get you setup and tracking NPS in very little time.

3. Use customer interviews to gather feedback

Customer interviews are one of my favorite ways to gather customer feedback. You can gather both value and solution feedback in every interview.

You can conduct customer interviews in person or remotely. I’m particularly fond of in-person interviews because you will be able to understand the customer’s environment along with your feedback.

Learn about them as a person

Take the opportunity to have a natural conversation with your customer. Don’t make the session feel like a research study.

Speak naturally and observe how they respond. Try to understand them as a person.

Ask about their usage of your product

You’re there to learn about your product, so ask questions about how they use your product.

What does [product] do well?

What doesn’t [product] do well?

What frustrates you most about [product]?

Understand why they were looking for your product

Ask questions that give you insights on why they purchased your product in the first place. Try to understand what motivated them to purchase your product.

4. Exercises and games can help discover unmet needs

Innovation Games are an excellent way to discover unmet needs with your customers. There are a variety of options that you can use to gather all types of customer feedback. I’m particularly fond of a game called Speedboat.

Speedboat helps you to understand what your customers do and don’t like about your product.

The game uses a simple metaphor to tease out product deficiencies. The boat symbolizes your product. Game participants add anchors to the boat that symbolize the things that slow down the boat.


Here’s an example of the low effort required to play Speedboat. All you need is a boat and some sticky notes.

As participants play the game, they’ll begin to group similar anchors together.

5. Usability testing will extract solution feedback

Conducting regular usability tests will help you gain solution feedback from your customers. The barrier to usability testing is remarkably low.

The goal of user testing is to understand how your particular solution works. The great part about user testing is that you don’t necessarily need to use current customers to get solution feedback. is an excellent resource for conducting rapid usability tests at a low cost.


Harnessing customer feedback will transform your business

Using all five of these methods will help you turn customer feedback into actionable steps to improving your business.

The collection of your customer feedback may be overwhelming. Break down your feedback into value feedback and solution feedback and look for patterns.

Patterns will help you form hypotheses for your next great product feature or idea.



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