Product Feedback Survey

Tracking Changing Attitudes Over Time

Regardless of whether you’re in the business of selling skirts or software, regular and consistent feedback on your product is a vital part of any business.

While you’ll often get spontaneous feedback from customers that can offer unique insights, the only way to systematically gather actionable data from a representative sample of your customers is to run a product feedback survey.

By repeating these surveys at regular intervals you can track the fluctuations in your customers’ attitudes toward your product. This information will allow you to direct future product development and marketing to address the actual likes and dislikes expressed by your customers.

Typical Product Feedback Survey Scenarios

The precise timing of a product feedback survey will depend heavily on your own business needs, but there are a few typical points in the product’s life cycle that lend themselves particularly well to this type of feedback.

1. Prior to Product Launch

Before launching a new product, and in some cases before even creating your first product, it’s vital to survey your customer base.

Many companies have saved themselves untold amounts of money (and heartache) by establishing a direct line of communication with the people they were planning to sell to. They may have been totally wrong about the audience they hoped to reach, or they might have misconstrued what that audience really wanted.

In either case, a survey can quickly reveal problems in a product or marketing strategy that will avoid catastrophes when the product goes out to the market.

2. Before or After Market Changes

When you encounter a new competitor in your market, new technology comes out that impacts how people interact with your product, or a cultural event impacts your target demographic, it’s a good time to redo your product feedback survey.

Any of these events (or many others) can significantly affect how your audience views your product or brand; you need to get in tune with those shifts as quickly as possible.

When looking for unbiased feedback on changing attitudes based on a particular event, avoid the temptation of mentioning that particular event.

You want to prevent these external events from impacting your responses, so you should keep your survey questions as general as possible while still getting actionable feedback. In fact, simply repeating your initial pre-launch survey and comparing the data is one of the best ways to track changing attitudes over time.

Ideally you would reach out to the same respondents as well, but if you’re taking a representative sample (usually about 400 people) then the data should remain comparable.

3. Before, During, After Product Updates

If you plan to overhaul your packaging, change the interface on your software, or launch a new product line, it’s time to touch base with your customers again.

As you plan these changes you can get ongoing feedback on your product’s evolution from your customers, which may directly affect the direction you decide to go.

Asking the same set of questions while your new product enters the market as well as a few weeks or months post-launch will give you great insight into how the changes are resonating with your customers.

Again, you would ideally continue to survey the same set of respondents for the most accurate and comparable data.

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Sample Questions from a Product Feedback Survey

You’ll want to tailor these to fit your particular product niche and market, but typical product feedback questions follow these formats:

  • Overall, how would you rate this product on a scale from 1-5, with one being the worst and 5 being the best?

The 1-5 scale is often preferred, but you could certainly use a 7 or 10 point scale. Odd numbers are generally best because they allow a neutral choice.

  • Why did you give the product this rating?

Following up a scale question with an open text response that allows respondents to elaborate can give you an opportunity to get unstructured feedback and explanation. You should consider making open text questions like this unrequired in your survey.

  • How likely are you to recommend this product to a friend?

Social sharing is the lifeblood of most markets, so this is a vital question. Setting up a Net Promoter Score (NPS) question in your product feedback survey will provide you with excellent data around these critical responses.

  • If you could improve one thing about our product, what would it be?

These kinds of specific questions will create more engagement than the common “what do you like/dislike” variations. Always try to balance your need for solid data with your customer’s needs to enjoy their time with your survey at least a little bit.

When conducting post-market surveys, i.e. surveys to your customers after you’ve launched a product or completed an update, make sure to start with a disqualifying question that asks if the respondent has used your product recently.

If you’re conducting the survey before you’ve launched a product, you may want to lead with some demographic questions so you know whether or not the respondent fits into your idea of your ideal customer.

Common Mistakes in Collecting Product Feedback

Hearing people talk about your product can be exciting, but it’s entirely possible to overdo (or under-do) product feedback. These mistakes can give you misleading data, so make sure to be critical about the timing and content of your product feedback surveys.

Avoid Surveying Everyone

If you have a paid and a free version of your software and you make a change that only paid customers can see, there’s no need to survey free customers.

Similarly, if you changed the colors on your women’s shoes but not your men’s line, no need to check in with the male audience.

If you haven’t launched a product yet but you intend to market it only to families with small children, don’t pay for responses from unmarried college students.

Disqualifying questions at the beginning of your survey will help ensure only the right respondents are contributing to your data.

Plan Survey Timing Carefully

You need to strike a deliberate balance between getting regular feedback (before and after a product update, for example) and becoming a nuisance to your customer base.

If you’re using a panel to reach the right demographics, you can specify that respondents did or did not engage with your previously survey(s) so that you can simply target the same users repeatedly or continuously get fresh respondents.

In the event that you aren’t planning any new product updates (and aren’t aware of any significant market shifts coming up), you can limit product feedback surveys to once a quarter or even twice a year.

Acting on Your Survey Results

When you get the results of a product feedback survey, take a careful look at the response quality.

If you’re going to use the data to guide your product development, you need to be absolutely confident in its quality.

There is always a danger of paid respondents not fully engaging with the questions, but their responses are typically easy to spot. They might use only single words to answer open text questions, or they might constantly pick the middle option in scale questions.

You can even repeat the same question with slightly different language and compare their responses to check that they are reading each question.

After you clean your data out, you can dive into it in more depth. You should certainly look at aggregate data -- what percentage of respondents would recommend our product to a friend? -- but reading open text question feedback on an individual basis can provide an entirely different kind of insight.

Data analysis can reveal both highlights in the current product and areas of common dissatisfaction, so you can then work on improving problem areas and promoting popular features.


Getting product feedback across your product’s lifecycle is a hugely valuable way to guide your product’s and marketing’s development.

By carefully monitoring the frequency of your surveys, crafting the questions wisely, and examining your data critically, you can create a product you’ll be proud of.

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