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18 Ways to Use Online Surveys to Drive Product Development (With Examples)


When it comes to product development, online surveys play an essential role in understanding customer needs and preferences. Online surveys offer a direct line to your audience, providing invaluable insights into their preferences and pain points. 

This blog post delves into ways online surveys can drive various aspects of product development, including examples for each area of focus. While not exhaustive, this list should provide a solid starting point to understand how direct customer feedback can impact business decisions for new and existing products.  

Table of Contents

Customer Insights

Understanding needs and preferences

Surveys allow businesses to gather direct feedback from customers and their experiences, needs, and preferences. By gaining these insights, companies can align their product development with actual user needs. 

Example: A tech startup is developing a new productivity app. To better understand its audience, the startup conducted an online survey targeting remote workers. The survey asked about their daily workflows, the tools they are currently using, and which features they feel are missing. The insights revealed a strong demand for time-tracking features, which the startup then prioritized in its product roadmap.

Identifying pain points

By asking customers about challenges and frustrations, companies can pinpoint areas for improvement or innovation. 

Example: A bank notices fewer customers using its app. To identify user frustrations, it creates a survey that includes questions about the login process, ease of navigation, and specific features. The responses highlight that users actually like the app, but the loading times are too slow, so they abandon it altogether. This feedback helps the developers focus on optimizing the app’s performance instead of trying to add new features. 

Product Concepts

Testing ideas

Before investing heavily, surveys can help test the viability of a new product concept to gauge customer interest and willingness to purchase. 

Example: As a home appliance manufacturer prepares to develop a new smart refrigerator, they survey homeowners about their interest in various smart features, such as automated grocery ordering. Respondents are lukewarm about this feature, prompting the company to shelve the idea in favor of experimenting with other features. 

Feedback on prototypes

Online surveys can provide feedback on early-stage prototypes to better understand how customers feel about usability, design, and functionality. 

Example: A toy manufacturer is developing new educational toys for children. They send a prototype to a small group of parents of children, followed by an email survey asking about their experience to gather feedback on the toy’s educational value, durability, and appeal. Based on the responses, the manufacturer makes adjustments to the toy’s design and materials to better meet user expectations.

Feature Prioritization

Feature ranking

While standard ranking questions can give you insight into customer preferences, using a more advanced methodology, such as MaxDiff, forces respondents to make tradeoffs so you can understand the most preferred and least preferred items. 

Example: A fitness company plans to introduce several new features in its app, including personalized workout plans, sleep monitoring, nutrition tracking, and progress analytics. Using MaxDiff, the company learns that users prioritize personalized workout plans over nutrition tracking, guiding the development team’s focus. 

Identifying must-have vs nice-to-have

A company can’t be everything all at once. To help pinpoint which features or services are essential versus those that are a nice bonus if you have them, they can prioritize or deprioritize accordingly. 

Example: A travel booking site conducts a survey to determine which features are vital to its website visitors. The results reveal that price alerts and easy booking are the most crucial features, while blog posts are much less important to both first-time and repeat visitors. This information proves essential during their website redesign. 

User Experience

Usability testing

By conducting surveys asking about user experience, companies can identify issues with a product’s interface or design.

Example: A music streaming company conducts a survey to test the usability of its mobile app. In their survey, they ask users about their experience with key functions such as creating a playlist, organizing music into libraries, and social sharing. The feedback from the survey includes difficulties tapping small buttons, which the company uses to implement a redesign for easier use. 

Tracking customer satisfaction

Measuring satisfaction levels is important for many reasons, including quantifying customer loyalty, identifying unhappy customers, and finding improvement opportunities for service quality. 

Example: A hotel uses an NPS program to measure guests' satisfaction with their recent stays. High NPS scores indicate strong customer satisfaction and loyalty, which is likely to lead to referral business. Information from detractors is useful in identifying areas that need improvement, such as room cleanliness, that the hotel can take action to improve. 

Market Segmentation

Understanding different user segments

Understanding different user segments helps businesses understand their customers and cater to their specific needs. 

Example: A clothing store uses surveys to understand the preferences of different customer segments, such as casual wear versus fashion-forward shoppers. The survey includes questions about shopping habits, brand name preferences, and price sensitivity. Armed with this information, the store is able to tailor its marketing strategies to each segment, such as promoting store-wide sales to their casual wear shoppers and new designer releases to their fashion-forward shoppers. 

Personalized experiences

Personalized experiences are more likely to increase customer satisfaction and create brand loyalty, ultimately improving profitability.

Example: A beauty product company collects survey data to personalize skincare and makeup recommendations. The survey includes questions about skin type, problem areas, and preferred product characteristics. This information helps the company create personalized product bundles and skincare routine recommendations. 

Strategic Decisions

Data-driven decisions

Quantitative data provides a factual basis for making strategic decisions about product features, design changes, and new product launches. 

Example: A restaurant chain is planning to introduce a new menu item. They use a survey to ask customers about their preferences for various cuisines, dietary restrictions, and willingness to try new dishes. To their surprise, they find that a large number of their guests are gluten-free, which guides their development of a new dish that aligns with customer preferences and needs. 

Market trends

Brand tracker studies track customer preferences over time to help companies anticipate and adapt to market trends. 

Example: A smartphone company’s brand tracker shows that a competitor’s product is gaining market share because it offers superior camera quality. Using that information, the company might focus on developing a smartphone with an even better camera to stay competitive in the market. 

Risk Reduction

Validating market demand

Before launching a new product, a company can use online surveys to gauge interest and demand among target consumers. 

Example: A subscription-based pet food service conducts extensive online surveys to understand the buying habits, preferences, and pain points of potential customers. One such survey revealed that many pet owners were frustrated with the time it takes to go to the store and the weight of carrying their pet food home. Respondents indicated a strong preference for high-quality pet food delivered directly to their doorsteps, which helped confirm that a direct-to-consumer delivery service would address their pain points. 

Minimizing development risks

Online surveys are great for validating ideas to help avoid costly mistakes. By validating the idea before development, there’s a higher chance of success when you bring the product or service to market. 

Example: A software developer assesses the market feasibility of a new application idea using an online survey. The survey includes questions about potential users' current solutions, pain points, and interest in the new application's features. Based on the responses, the firm refines the concept and moves forward with development.

Continuous Improvement

Iterative development

Online surveys are instrumental in the iterative development of products, providing continuous feedback and insights at different stages of the product lifecycle. 

Example: Before any new feature release of a company’s project management software, they solicit testers to trial a beta version of the software. Using an online survey, they gather feedback on usability, effectiveness, and overall satisfaction with the new feature. Based on the feedback, the development team is able to identify and fix bugs before the new software version is released and prioritize additional feature requests in their product roadmap. 

Feedback loop

After product launch, surveys can help measure customer satisfaction, identify strengths, and surface areas for improvement. 

Example: A cloud storage service maintains a feedback loop with users through online surveys. This continuous customer interaction helps the company identify which new features customers desire and which features need improvement. 

Customer Engagement

Community building

Ongoing dialog to check in with customers helps build a community of engaged and loyal users who feel consistently involved in the product or brand’s journey. 

Example: An online forum surveys its members to gather feedback and improve community features. The survey includes questions about forum usability, content relevance, and member interactions. The insights help the forum enhance user experience and build a stronger community.

Creating trust

Sharing how customer feedback from surveys has been used to make product improvements can facilitate transparency and build trust. 

Example: A software company publishes release notes highlighting how specific user feedback influenced recent product upgrades or new feature implementations. 

Putting This Information Into Practice

In conclusion, there are many ways to use online surveys to drive product development. By creating an environment where feedback is invited and acted upon, companies can gather key information to inform strategic planning and make data-driven decisions. 

With over two decades' worth of experience in programming and fielding consumer surveys, IntelliSurvey serves as an expert partner for collecting data that drives insights. For more information on how we can work together on your next study, please contact our team

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