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Customer development is a term popularized by Steve Blank. It refers to a constant process of getting to know your customers better and validating your assumptions about your them, their needs, and your product. It has been used mostly by startups, but bigger companies are starting adapting it as well to decrease costs and risk associated with new product launches. As you can see on the presentation, the key to success is listening to your existing and potential customers and iteration based on their feedback. Without this, customer development process simply can’t work.

In this article, I’ll show you how important feedback is on all stages of the customer development and how you can collect it.

How to collect feedback on all stages of customer development process

Survey you potential users

This might be the most difficult – you don’t know who will be using your product. You just assume – e.g. you think you’re building a product for sales reps from SaaS companies. So go out and talk to them. It’s now as easy as never before – join LinkedIn, Facebook or Slack groups. You’ll find there lots of people willing to talk to you and share their ideas. You can also create a survey and share it with the groups. For them, it’s just 3 or 5 minutes. For you, it’s invaluable. Just remember that people might expect something in return, like access to your product. For you that’s even better – you’ll get your first users who will give you feedback on a working product.

One important thing to keep in mind: if you want this to bring results, you must be open to critique and new ideas. Your assumptions might be all wrong. Talking to potential customers can show that they are not really your target group, they don’t need your solution or wouldn’t be willing to pay for it. Listen to feedback carefully, it can provide you with ideas for pivots or totally new business ideas.

Survey actual customers

SaaS products can be often used in many different ways. A simple example: some of Survicate customers are ecommerce who want to learn what visitors want them to offer or how they should improve the website, some are SaaS companies collecting feedback on their pricing or products, some users generate leads with our surveys. And there’s a whole bunch of others who collect feedback for different purposes. Verifying your assumptions how and why people use your product will help you adjust to their needs and get new customers. Example: you can find out that one certain feature is crucial for most of your users and you won’t find upgrades of different features so useful.

Collecting feedback from customers is not difficult – you can call them, talk via live chat, run website surveys targeted at customers or use email surveys. The choice is up to you and partly depends on what you want to find out. If you want to ask your customers 50 detailed questions, then you should send surveys via email. But if you want to ask one or a few quick questions, then website surveys will be probably a more reasonable choice.

What’s important is keeping all the data in one place and making it as actionable as possible. It means that you should consider integrating your marketing automation or customer communication tool with a survey tool to be able to tie responses to individual customers. It allows you to reach out to them and offer personalized help or schedule a call with people who provide the most interesting insights. If you decide to choose Survicate to get feedback from customers, you can integrate it with tools like Intercom, ActiveCampaign,
HubSpot, Pardot and many more (see all our integrations here).

Survey website visitors to get them to become customers

People who visit your website are your potential customers. You somehow attracted them to the website so you can assume they are at least interested in your product or services. But there might be factors holding them back from converting into a lead or buyer. Your website might be slow. The value proposition might be unclear. There might be not enough social proof. This list goes on and on. Simple fixes can dramatically improve conversion rates but you must know what to fix. So just ask your visitors using website surveys.

You can use it not only to ask questions about the website but also to get other information important for your customer development process. Ask why they are hoping to get from your product, how they found you, what is stopping them from becoming a customer, how they would like to use the product etc. Here’s how a sample website survey looks.

sample website survey

Key takeaways

Customer development process is not complete without collecting and analyzing feedback from your potential and actual customers. Now that you know how important that is, choose the right technique depending on how advanced you are with deploying the product and you know how start collecting feedback and speed up your customer development process. So what are you waiting for?