How product feedback can help you create better consumer goods products

If you’re involved in product development in any way, shape or form, you know it’s important to collect feedback.

But did you also know that it shouldn’t be seen as a one-off thing? Customer feedback has a role to play at all stages of the product lifecycle. That’s right, not only before the product launches but all the way through to when it’s well-established and you may be looking to rebrand or tweak your offer. Implementing some form of product lifecycle analysis and feedback throughout these phases offers plenty of benefits, allowing you to:

This way you can make key changes before launch if needed, which can save a lot of time and money, and ultimately help you create a better end product. Customer feedback at this point could also tell you if there’s a major problem with your product, so you know if it’s better to pull the plug.

Draw on customer insights in the early stages of positioning to help you choose between several options in terms of pricing, packaging, messaging and branding. And also collect feedback closer to launch, when your designs are more or less set, to confirm you’re on the right track.

Consumer insights are also helpful for your products already on the market. Especially if you’re aware there are issues. By directly asking consumers about your products, you can better understand what exactly those issues are. Maybe your product is perceived as too expensive, or perhaps too cheap. Maybe it doesn’t live up to its promises. Or there might be a new competitor making waves. Whatever the outcome of your research, you’ll be better placed to act and make informed decisions.

Product feedback can be a real treasure trove of information. Generally, customers want to help. And what they tell you can provide plenty of food for thought. It can help you identify opportunities and gaps in the market, which you can capitalise on for new product development.

People love to feel heard. They want their opinions and thoughts to be valued. And this is an added bonus of requesting product feedback. It can help your customers feel listened to. And if done well, with great messaging that shows not only that you value their feedback but that you’ve also taken it on board, it can even inspire customer loyalty and prevent customer churn.

5 people answering a product feedback survey

So we know feedback is helpful throughout product development phases. Now how do we go about getting it?

The best strategy will depend on which stage of the product lifecycle you’re at.

In the pre-launch or development phase, product testing surveys, concept testing surveys and focus groups will be the most useful. They’ll help you test your minimum viable product and find out if you’re hitting the right notes, and what the pain points are.

During the introduction phase, you can again use concept testing surveys, but this time to test a more polished version of your product, with a smaller audience.

From this point onwards, customer satisfaction surveys, NPS surveys, interviews and focus groups will all help you gather the feedback you need. But though you can use these methods at multiple stages, they’ll need to be tailored to suit the product and where it is on the product lifecycle.

It’s worth remembering that product feedback can come from many different places. For instance, your customer support, sales and social media teams probably all receive valuable information from customers using your products on a daily basis. They will have noticed recurring themes. So encourage all your staff to contribute their insights—they can be a huge help with product analysis.

Don’t skip this one! All those insights aren’t worth much if you don’t act on them. Categorise the feedback you’ve gathered, identify trends, then prioritise to decide what needs fixing first. And go the extra mile by not only thanking people for their feedback but also showing them how you’ve used it.

Every business is different. While some may have vast product development and market research teams, others will have more limited resources. So it makes sense that you pick an approach that suits what you need and how you work. Let’s look at two possible options in more detail.

Some companies may choose to outsource the whole product life cycle analysis process to a consultancy firm, especially if they’re time-poor. Outsourcing certainly will save you time. However, this is the most expensive option. And it may actually take longer to get the results, as consultancy firms generally work on several projects at once, and involve several different internal teams.

But the biggest disadvantage with this approach is that an external company doesn’t know your business, products or target markets as well as you do. This means that, even with a thorough brief, they may end up missing the mark.

This option is much more cost-effective. And you can draw on SurveyMonkey expertise by using question banks, templates and workflows to get you started. It’s generally quicker because you’re in control of the timeline. Plus, SurveyMonkey offers automations that can help you work more quickly, for instance automatically summarising your survey results and presenting findings in easy-to-read charts and graphs.

You can also integrate your survey data into other software, such as CRM, email marketing, analytics or reporting tools, both before and after surveying. For instance, integrate survey results into your CRM for richer customer insights. Or trigger survey sending based on a customer’s actions, such as purchasing a product on your website.

One drawback to this approach is that it can take up more of the product development team’s time. But if time is an issue, there is another way. SurveyMonkey offers market research services, where you delegate the survey work to us while still staying very much in the loop—all for a competitive price.