Guest contribution by Christopher Beck, Product Manager at MediaMath

For many product managers, customer feedback is the key to making a product successful. This is why carefully structuring and selecting the product survey questions you ask your customers is so important.

Great product managers avoid failed products and stay ahead of changing attitudes by actively engaging their target audience in honest discussion. The most valuable product feedback comes from clear questions, carefully structured scenarios, and making the most of your time with the customer. 

Here are the top 10 product survey and interview questions to gather customer feedback and measure customer sentiment towards your product.

Product survey best practices 

Customer satisfaction surveys provide product managers with feedback from a larger pool of clients compared to customer interviews, though it isn’t usually as detailed. These surveys should be carefully crafted without any leading questions. It’s best to ask for a second or third opinion from other stakeholders after crafting the list of questions.

And just like the product itself, think about the customer’s mindset and how they may encounter this survey. Adding a survey into the product itself allows for feedback when the product is top of mind. Surveys built right into a simplistic UI, which can be accomplished via SDK, will generate higher response rates, unlike email surveys which are not likely to even be opened.

Gamification of the survey can also improve the response rate. If you add a progress bar or a “1/10” indicator to show their progress, it will help to increase the rate of completion.

The best product survey questions

Product survey questions should be simple and easy to answer. Here are a few examples to elicit valuable data from your customers:

  1. Using this product helps me accomplish my goal. (Disagree/Agree) For a lot of the survey questions, sliding scales or using a 1-5 likert scale can help to simplify the flow for the customer. You want to make sure your product does what it’s meant to do. It will be best if you can reach out to customers who disagree to get more information.
  2. How likely are you to recommend this product to a friend or colleague? (0 – 10) This is an essential question and well-known throughout product and business circles in general. The average response value is your Net Promoter Score (NPS). The general sense is that you wouldn’t recommend a product or service you didn’t like to a friend or colleague so it’s a true indication of the customer’s own feelings about the product.
  3. Which of the descriptions below best matches you? (Provide choices) This question should be accompanied by choices which you generally understand to be your customer personas. This is incredibly valuable as it will help you to divide your respondents into groups and create personas based on the general responses in each group.
  4. How easy is this product to use? (1 – 10) This question gives you a sense of how difficult it is to use the product. If many customers say it’s not very easy, this gives you a lead to explore during in-depth customer interviews. I’d also leave an optional text box for comments should they like to provide details for further investigation.
  5. How likely are you to use this product over similar platforms? (1-10) This is a great question to help measure the competition of your solution in the vertical you operate in. It may be interesting to specifically name a competing platform or ask for clarifications on what platform the customer had in mind in a text box.

Customer interview best practices

Face-to-face engagement with the customer lets you follow interesting insights and dig deeper as the customer reveals details in real-time.

You always want to be mindful of your time with the customer and allow for all important questions to be asked. In my experience as a B2B product manager, there is nothing better than talking one on one with your customers in a setting that makes everyone feel comfortable so you get honest feedback. The subject matter is complex, so clear and concise language allows me to get the valuable insights I need.

Whenever I start a more conversational customer interview, I will start the conversation with “What are your concerns as it relates to…” and set the tone for the discussion. In this way, I make sure the client finds value in what I have to say thereafter. A client whose voice is heard is an engaged client. Take notes, or if you feel you can’t due to the cadence of the conversation, ask someone else on your side for some help. Also, if it’s a Zoom call, always record!

The best customer interview questions

Customer interview questions should be open-ended and leave a lot of work on the client to provide as much detail as possible. Here are a few questions to get your customer thinking:

  1. What do you think of X product? At first glance, this seems like a lazy question, yet it welcomes all thoughts and feelings on the part of your customer. You’ll also immediately expose leads you can further dissect in discussion with the client.
  2. If you were the product manager for this product, what would you improve and why? This question directly prompts the client for their feature ideas. They won’t necessarily be right, but it’s important to hear from those who use your product the most. Take the answer with a grain of salt.
  3. Could you walk me through, step by step, your process for using this product? This puts customers directly into the mindset of when they need to use the product. A good follow-up to this question is “What prompted you to use the product?” This allows you to identify the stimulus that brought the customer to use it. If it’s possible, ask the client to walk you through their normal flow in the UI.
  4. How does this product make you feel? Whether or not your product helps the customer accomplish their goal is one thing, but how did your customer feel emotionally about the whole experience? New evidence shows that companies whose products connect emotionally can reap the rewards of doing so. If two products accomplish the same goal, yet one leaves a customer feeling much better than the other, which do you think they will keep using?
  5. What do you dislike about this product? It’s a sensitive topic but necessary for any good product manager to face. I’ve seen some product managers get defensive when they hear the answer – don’t be that guy! Remember that the customer interview should be a comfortable setting for everyone involved. Try to show understanding for whatever the customer responds with and feel free to dig deeper.

Why product managers need customer feedback

Customer feedback is data indicating people’s opinions about a product or service. 

Picture this: you just became a product manager at your favorite tech company. You learn the most minute details about your product and what it provides its clients. You ask around internally about the product to gather your colleagues’ thoughts. You’re even such a fan of this new company you work for that you’ve brought your own ideas on how to improve the product.

You can work with your engineering team to build improvements, but how do you know these changes will impact the customers it is meant to help? Simply put, you don’t! Also, taking the time and effort to work on a product that doesn’t solve your clients’ problems is a major cost to your company, not to mention the morale of your team.

Customer feedback guides product

When product managers know what their customer wants by getting their feedback, they can prevent failed products. A product is made to solve the problems of a certain target customer, one who understands the problem intimately.

Customers live the problem on a daily basis, whether through their profession or a daily ritual they perform. The problem may be related to a certain hobby or skill set. The way a customer perceives their problem can also be affected by their ethnicity, race, or economic status. While you may have a general understanding of the customer and their problem, you will never know it as intimately as the customer does without asking for their feedback.

To ignore changing attitudes is to fail

Over time attitudes and trends change, so constantly welcoming client feedback is critical for maintaining success – to ignore these changes is to fail.

For example, Blockbuster was the most successful video rental store in America quickly after being founded in the late ‘80s. The rise of the internet and new technologies meant that consumers had higher expectations for convenience. Then Netflix came on the scene offering consumers the ability to order film rentals online at $20 a month. The sooner you returned a film with free return envelopes, the sooner you received the next film on your list. With this model, Netflix didn’t have to worry about late returns like traditional rental stores.

To make matters worse, Blockbuster made a half-hearted effort to build a streaming service with Enron yet focused more on making their own core business more profitable. Soon, Netflix introduced their streaming service and the rest is history, as is Blockbuster. If Blockbuster had been more open about hearing from their customers, it’s possible they could have been a dominant force in on-demand video.

Great product managers avoid a Blockbuster situation by actively engaging customers in customer interviews with carefully determined questions and open-ended discussions. 

How to use customer feedback

At my company, MediaMath, it’s largely understood our platform does not exist in a vacuum and so it’s vital to always be talking to partners to understand how customers are thinking about our products. Marketers use multiple products and platforms to deliver ads to the right users, so we need to make sure our platform works with other external platforms and abides by industry standards. Sharing customer feedback amongst these platforms can inform better integrations that will ultimately please the client.

In addition, reseller clients such as agencies have major insights into what clients want from their own discussions. In our industry, partnerships and groups are formed to develop solutions and share customer insights across the aisle. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is one such body that brings together all companies in the space to share insights and develop solutions that make for products clients love. At times, the intricacies of advertising can be overwhelming to clients, and their feedback isn’t always valuable because of that. External platforms that have a better understanding and maybe a unique perspective can help fill the gaps.

Product managers: The internal customer

When one method for aggregating customer feedback doesn’t lead to the information you need, thankfully there are many others available to you – it’s all about being creative and aggressively pursuing these methods.

Getting a customer’s perspective is probably the most important part of being a product manager. After all, product managers need to be the internal customer, always providing the customer perspective to the organization. Let these strategies help you build your foundation for getting customer feedback.

About Christopher Beck

Christopher Beck has over 2 years of experience as a Product Manager at MediaMath, with a background in Account Management. Christopher is also a Product Gym senior member and mentor.