How to gather early feedback from customers

A lot of progress have been made recently to be better at building products fits for users needs and desires. I use a combination of techniques based on courses I followed, experiments I did and observations from others I did recently. I wish to use this page as a collection of ideas.

This is a post I could have wrote for age but I took the opportunity use this medium to reply to a video from Michelle Ockers on YT.

So we start with a product idea. It can be a commercial product like I do or a community project or an internal project. The fact that there will be no price tags attached and that it address a captive market don’t make much difference.

It starts with an idea

On this idea, we build a first iteration which most of the time consists in features. This by itself is wrong because we are already thinking as builders instead of staying on the POV of the user. Never mind, once we are conscient of it, it’s easy to correct it.

Take the user POV

Personas, brand stories, and writing a problem statement are great ways to take user point of view in consideration very early.

Example of brand story

Optimum Productivity Brand Script

The best is, of course, to go directly to users and ask them. 2 tools are helping a lot.

Surveys. a survey is easy to setup and quick to sort. Two risks though, the questions embed already a certain number of assumptions we do, so surveys are biased and one direction only (no feedback on the questions), as the project evolves the survey must be changed. most system don’t support changing questions.

Example of survey for collecting needs and desires in an open way

New Survey on Self Directed Learning

Empathy Interviews: 2 or 3 open questions and let people share their views. Write an empathy map. To hold empath interviews is a skill, it needs to be learned.

### Two more tools:

Research on Google. This one is the easiest but very confusing. We find only what we look for, we are limited by what we find. It’s very easy to get a biased view of a problem and what people shared about it. it’s also very easy, because we are with a beginner mindset, to be overwhelmed and discouraged by findings. It takes a long time to get deeper and due diligence on everything we find to make sure it’s valid, actual, real.

Focus group. I’ve seen this on facebook with Michael Hyatt and his last course (June 2016) and this week with Dan Norris and his last book ( July 2016). gather a group of people interested in the topic and who are real potential stakeholders (leave advisors of all sorts out of it). Keep sharing aspects of the projects and collect instant feedback. Very efficient and impressive but it requires you have a tribe reading to play the game.

Make assumptions

You need to make hypothesis and assumptions to make progress. Every hypothesis is an act of faith and a risk to leave behind a potential better option. Hypothesises will rely on a set of assumptions.

### Keep a list of assumptions

Bussiness Model Canvas as a great way to keep them all in one page.

This is an example. It can be freely adapt to any purpose
Each information is an assumption.

There is also an App inside Kneaver (“KNVBiz”) for managing business model canvas (“KNVBMC”) and assumptions. It allows to track every assumption and add comments and relate them to design decisions using the linking system. Like this, the complete thinking trail is preserved and can be transmitted down the line and end up in the argumentary of the product at delivery time. Very nice just a bit heavy reason I used the google spreadsheet model too.

Get feedback

### go back to users and asks precise questions

Now it’s time to get precise feedback to validate assumptions

The feedback must be directed so as to obtain answers on precise assumptions.
Assumptions may need to be validated by different types of stakeholders.

### use an MVP

One of the great difficulties we come across at this stage is that most people are not able to give a feedback without some idea of what you are doing. A powerpoint or a project plan are not an MVP nor suitable to collect feedback. An MVP is first of all visual, it’s a fake minimal device made to create this instant aha moment in users mind about what you intend to do really.

This is where MVP and being agile at creating MVP becomes critical.

An MVP is a minimal model of what you intend to do. It doesn’t need to be operational but give the impression of being real. In some case a rough piece of paper, a video can be enough.

This is an example

Prototyping the new UX design

This was too long, I learned to be faster meanwhile.

In lean design, the goal of an MVP is **only** to provoke feedbacks, no viability on the implementation or anything. This is a bit hard to acquire because we tend to spend way too much time on MVP. An ideal MVP is done in a couple fo hours.

Some reader will recognize the picture above as it appears on a book for Show Your Work.

### use Working Out Loud

If you combine the idea of short feedback cycles, focus group and very simple MVP you are in a prefect use case of Working Out Loud.

– gather a focus group
– elaborate an MVP for each of your assumptions
– share the MVP as you go
– collect feedbacks
– update your list of assumptions
– iterate

More ideas

A/B testing are a great way to collect feedback without the user knowing it.

Example: You create a simple page with two buttons. “Learn more” and “Start now”. There’s nothing behind the buttons but we can measure how many visitors click and on which one. Then we can create a second page with a variation and submit to another group and see how they react. This sis a very fast way to iterate toward the best solution using two simultaneous assumptions. At each iteration we can either go deeper or expand lateraly with alternatives.

Any more Idea? Please share below