“Hate is closer to love than indifference—you can’t iterate around indifference, but you can around hate.”Dave McClure, 500 Startups Co-Founder

One of the many great things that happen when your business starts growing fast is that you begin to receive a lot of unprompted or unsolicited feedback.

It’s something that many businesses have conflicting views about. On the one hand, unsolicited feedback can:

You already have a plan. You want to execute on it and move forward. That’s understandable.

On the other hand, there is real value in keeping at least some doors open.

People are generally motivated to provide unsolicited feedback when they are either very happy, or very unhappy, with a product.

As Instagram research manager Sian Townsend says: “The customer issues that aren’t on your radar, that you’re completely unaware of, can be the most important things you need to hear. […] There’s a reason doctors ask if there’s “anything else you want to talk about?” at the end of your appointment. It often triggers the patient to talk about their most important issue.”

It’s one of the reasons why, in the early days, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made his email address available to everyone. Even today, Bezos gets a lot of complaints, which he often reads and forwards to the appropriate people on his team with a single question mark, meaning “what the heck is going on?”.

This open-door strategy can help to reveal patterns, and increase the likelihood of serendipitous outcomes. It can also help you improve your product so that you acquire new users and customers.

How to Analyze Unsolicited Feedback

Look at the roles and profiles of the users who have provided unsolicited feedback: Are there users that should have been using your product?

The users who have signed up, started using your product, realized that it was missing X, Y, or Z and moved on, but who went out of their way to give your team feedback, are people who were trying to get more—or different—value from your product.

Qualified prospects who never signed up, but still wrote in to give feedback, can also be good sources of insights.

Analyze the feedback that both types of users have provided: Are there any patterns? Anything that fits your product strategy and could convince more people to adopt your product?

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This post in an excerpt from Solving Product. If you enjoyed the content, you'll love the new book. You can download the first 3 chapters here →.

Categories: Customer Research Technique