How to ask for feedback

Ever since starting BetaList I get asked by founders to provide them with my feedback. They share their idea or product with me and end with “Thoughts?” or “What do you think?”

This is an awful way to ask for feedback.

Often, after answering, they tell me “we’re not looking to change that part”, or “yes we’ve considered that, but we decided not to go that way”. So you’re wasting both my time and your own by me giving you feedback you didn’t want.

So, how do you ask for better feedback?

1. Be specific on what you’d like feedback on

Why are you asking for feedback? Are you stuck? Are you unsure of something? Explain that to the person you’re asking for feedback. Do you want feedback on the vision, concept, execution, the design, a specific part of the product, or maybe you are simply looking to squash bugs?

By clearly communicating what it is that you would like feedback on you make sure you get exactly what you need.

It’s perfectly fine to ask different people for different types of feedback based on their expertise.

2. Tell them what you DON’T need any feedback on

Let’s say you’re developing an app and you haven’t spent any time yet refining the on-boarding flow. You’ll want to tell them upfront they can disregard that part of the app. Otherwise you’ll just be wasting their time and will be less likely to provide feedback in the future.

3. Ask the right people

You want to make sure you ask the right people for the right feedback. I often see entrepreneurs asking their peers for product feedback, because these are the people that are easily accessible. If you’re building a product for other entrepreneurs, that’s great, but otherwise you want to make sure you talk to your customers instead. It’s the people that are paying for your product who’s feedback you should value the most.

When it comes to business topics like hiring and strategy it does make sense to ask your peers, but then I still recommend being intentional about who you ask for which feedback.

4. Are you comfortable with harsh feedback?

I personally prefer feedback that cuts to the chase. It doesn’t need to be sugar coated. If something sucks tell me so I can fix it now, rather than invest more time and money into something that isn’t working. I belief that’s the most efficient, but I also realise not everyone is the same and it depends on the situation and your relationship with the person too.

Tell the person you’re asking feedback from if they can be blunt or if you prefer a little more sugar coating. If you’re uncomfortable saying you prefer sugar coated feedback you can use language such as “where do you see room for improvement?”, etc.

5. Make it easy

Asking people for their feedback can come in many different ways. Sometimes you’ll want to talk to a person. When you’re beta testing with dozens of users you’ll want an easy way for them to provide feedback from within your app or website (e.g. using Intercom). If you want feedback on an article your writing (like the one you’re reading now) use Medium or Google Docs so people can leave comments within the text. If it’s a design or visual mockup use a tool like InVision, etc.

Thanks for reading 💚