As a customer, app publishers can seem largely unapproachable. Whatever feedback that manages to make it past their floodgates will simply enter a black hole of unsolicited requests. But for publishers, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

Most publishers understand the value of in-app feedback and genuinely want to provide a customer-centric mobile experience. They believe they are doing everything they can to solicit feedback and proactively encourage customers to shoot them an email or leave a review. However, what many fail to understand is that the two channels used most for soliciting in-app feedback (email and app store reviews) don’t resonate with their customers or their mobile lifestyles.

This disconnect causes a perception gap. Publishers think they’re making themselves accessible through their app, but customers disagree. The gap ends up making app publishers look like this…

Michael Scott feedback

…instead of like this…

Buddy the Elf feedback

There’s a better way for app publishers to ask for feedback that will not only improve their customer experiences, but can help them build a better product. This post shares tips to help you be a little less Michael Scott and a whole lot more Buddy the Elf when it comes to leveraging your mobile experience for in-app feedback, helping you close the perception gap and build a better product.

Here are four tips to improve your mobile app’s real-time in-app feedback strategy.

1. Ask for feedback at the right mobile moment

We talk about finding the right mobile moment to engage with customers quite a bit, but it’s so important to get right that it’s always worth reiterating. You may spend weeks putting together the best survey, poll, or in-app prompt to gather customer feedback, but if it’s shown at the wrong mobile moment, consider all your hard work a lost cause. Prompting customers at the right time and place within your app is absolutely crucial to receiving their feedback.

Here are a few tips to find the right mobile moment within your app to ask for in-app feedback:

  • Prompt customers for feedback after they complete a high-value action. Feedback is important, but it’s not worth disrupting your customer experience. For example, instead of asking them to complete a survey right when they launch the app, ask them about their purchase experience after they’ve completed the cycle and are closing their purchase confirmation.
  • Target the right customers. Serve your in-app feedback prompts to specific, targeted groups of customers based upon actions they’ve taken within the app or personal information, such as account type, location, or amount spent within the app. Utilize these targeting tools to ensure you’re asking relevant questions to people who have the right experience with your product or application to provide meaningful feedback.
  • Be mindful of your customers’ time. Feedback is a gift, and it takes time for customers to weigh in with their thoughts. For every minute a person spends sharing thoughts around their experience with you, remember they could be doing something else, like spending time with their loved ones, focusing on themselves, or getting work done. The frequency in which you ask for in-app feedback will, by and large, determine how helpful the feedback truly is, so don’t abuse the channel by asking for it too frequently.

2. Leverage feedback to improve your product

When it comes to improving your product, nobody is better at weighing in than your customers. Effective feedback loops should be designed within your mobile experience. They should be a frictionless part of the customer experience and designed in a way that resonates with the needs of a mobile customer: quick, non-intrusive, and optimized for mobile screens.

To see this optimization in action, consider how you prefer to communication on mobile. If you’re anything like me, you prefer texting to calling, shorthand answers over long responses, and you expect any requests on your time, such as survey requests, to be cognizant of your time. Once these mobile customer needs are taken into consideration, the result is a mobile-optimized feedback loop, or a communication channel specifically designed with your mobile customer in mind. Plus—not surprisingly—Apptentive research finds 98% of customers who prefer to leave feedback for companies directly in-app are likely to do so when prompted. That’s a whole lot of customer insight!

In-app feedback research results

Mobile surveys, questions, or in-app prompts are a seamless way to uncover customer needs you haven’t considered in your app or mobile web experience, which can help you prioritize features, backlogs, and bugs, back up your product roadmap decisions, and in general, make your mobile experience better. But don’t just take my word for it—check out how one of Apptentive’s international customers leveraged in-app feedback to make better product decisions.

3. Use surveys and polls to deepen customer insights

Are you curious to learn more about behavior, or just want to know what your most supportive customers think? Consider using mobile surveys and polls that enable you to collect structured feedback within your mobile experience from your customers.

These types of prompts allow app publishers and mobile marketers a way to make real-time decisions on projects by polling customer groups about marketing or product ideas. Whether you lean on NPS surveys, short mobile-optimized surveys, or a one-question poll, you’ll be able to hear directly from customers to understand what they’d like to see more of and what they’d like changed. Once the question(s) is live, the customer feedback rolls in!

A massively important component of mobile surveys is asking the right question. Disrupting the customer experience by asking too many questions yields the opposite effect of what you’re aiming for, so it’s important to get it right the first time. To start, take some time to identify a single concrete research question that you hope to answer with the results of your survey. This will provide a benchmark for your data analysis and can help to keep the survey short and concise if you constrain yourself to asking only those questions necessary for addressing your research question.

Research questions are generally classified as either attitudinal, behavioral, demographic, or technical. Here are examples of each question type:

  • Attitudinal: How do new customers like my app?
  • Behavioral: How do customers interact with my app? What are their most common use cases?
  • Demographic: With which age bracket is my app most popular?
  • Technical: How can my app be improved, in the eyes of my customers? Once you have carefully selected your research question, several of the remaining steps will ensue naturally–including your target audience and the type of data you need to collect.

4. Personalize your messaging

When we look at customer segments, it can be easy to forget our customers are individuals. Even the best mobile marketers trade unique characteristics, habits, and preferences of the customer as an individual for a big-picture view of the “customer” as an abstract concept. This myopic viewpoint is not only flawed, but costly.

Despite similarities across in-app actions, purchase history, demographics, or other mobile behavior, each customer has their own relationship with your company, and it’s imperative to nurture the relationship one-to-one whenever an opportunity arises. Personalized messaging, like one-to-one marketing, is the manifestation of how we incorporate everything we know about our customers’ loves, likes, and dislikes into their mobile experience. It’s also a great way to treat customers as individuals, and to speak to them in a more direct manner.

Every message you use to communicate with customers in-app is served to a person from who you are trying to gain insight. When creating in-app feedback messaging, write your content as though you’re speaking to a customer one-on-one. Beginning with phrases like, “What do you think…” and, “How do you feel…” lets customers know you’re interested in understanding them and their experience personally, rather than diving right into a question.

Wrapping it up

Leveraging your app for real-time feedback can open up an entirely new channel to directly communicate with customers. Although it can be challenging, connecting with customers through your mobile experience is a personal, effective way to learn more about their preferences, and to ultimately build a better product.

I hope the tips above are useful and easy to implement into your in-app feedback strategy immediately. If you have additional tips or thoughts on what we’ve covered, I’d love to hear about it! Please share your thoughts in the comments below to get the discussion going.