7 Ways to Easily Get Valuable Customer Feedback With Contextual Micro-Surveys

If you’ve ever managed or built a product, you know that gathering and analyzing customer feedback is hard.

It’s time-consuming; you have to spend hours prospecting customers and following up to schedule interviews or collect surveys. More often than not, the responses received aren’t specific enough or lack the context necessary for in-depth analysis. Not only do you have to collect, clean, and organize your data, but you also need it to be relevant and meaningful. What if I told you that there was a better solution for this?

Throughout my career as a CTO and data analyst, I’ve developed different strategies to perfect the collection of customer feedback at scale. In this guide, you’ll learn how you can use contextual micro-surveys to extract valuable feedback from your customers at the right moment to make better strategic product decisions.

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Use Contextual Micro-Surveys

Contextual micro-surveys are very brief questions or requests for feedback that are targeted to users in a specific context. Unlike traditional long-form, NPS-style surveys and interviews, which can be a heavy lift, contextual micro-surveys make it incredibly easy to capture data on a large scale and greatly improve your survey response rates. Here’s how it works.

Basic Approach

There are many different touchpoints where you can engage with your customer. You have marketing, sales, customer service, social media, and inside your product itself. Each touchpoint has a different context, and a different set of relevant questions.

Rather than asking people their opinions about their entire experience out of context in a long survey, you should target specific questions that are the most relevant at the precise moment they’re asked.

The first key principle is that you should only ask a single question at a time. People don’t want to be roped into a survey, even if it’s only a few questions. A single question, with a simple one-click response, however, doesn’t require any additional effort to answer than it would to hit the X and close out. Use pre-defined, canned responses wherever possible to get high response rates, with an Other option to capture the outliers.

After they’ve submitted their response, you can ask them a follow-up question, ideally based on their response to the first question. You can also ask them to leave a comment or further explanation.

You can then offer them an opportunity to follow up, either by directly sending them to a support chat, or asking them if it’s ok for a product manager can contact them.

The idea here is that you’re giving them an opportunity to provide feedback that requires absolutely no work, but then try to hook them into a deeper conversation.

These micro-surveys can take many forms, as I’ll describe below, but the principles are always the same:

  1. Ask a simple question that requires a single click
  2. Follow up with another question or an opportunity to provide comments
  3. Give them a call to action to connect with a real person

This takes people down a funnel where you’ll get a high number of responses to the first question, but the more willing they are to give feedback, the deeper the engagement can get.


This approach to gathering customer feedback provides a wealth of benefits:

  • Real-time trends – Once these surveys are baked into the customer lifecycle, you’ll get a constant stream of data that will help you understand how your product is improving over time.
  • Improved accuracy of feedback – Asking the question in context, when the experience is fresh in their minds, will give you the most accurate feedback
  • Higher response rates – By making the feedback as simple as possible, people will be more likely to give you a response.
  • >More targeted feedback – These micro-surveys allow you to target specific users. Ask certain questions only to people who engaged with a specific feature, or who match a certain demographic. You can get as granular as you’d like and use the data to compare user segments.
  • Increased trust and loyalty – While many users are too lazy to give feedback, they do still want to feel like you’re listening to them (I know that sounds like a contradiction). If they do submit feedback, they’re setting an expectation that you’re going to do something about it. If you take their feedback and actually improve the product to match, you’ll gain their trust and loyalty.
  • Better retention, revenue, and growth – The ultimate goal of all this is to gather more and better customer feedback so you can improve the customer experience. By gathering, analyzing, and acting on this feedback, you’re going to build the right product and features that delight your customers, which will ultimately turn into a positive impact on every one of your key performance metrics.
Now that you’re a believer, let’s dive into the methods.

Email Drip Campaigns

Drip campaigns are a common marketing tool used to get users to engage and make purchases via email. When someone signs up to be on your email list or registers an account, they receive emails “dripped” over time. Don’t let marketing monopolize this channel. Inject product surveys along the life cycle as well.

I like to use the 7/30/90 day engagement survey strategy. This allows you to get product feedback consistently at different points in a user’s journey. Early on, you want to learn why they decided to try your product. A few weeks later, when the honeymoon period has worn off, you want to understand how the product can be improved, before they potentially churn. If the user continues to use your product after a few months, you want to understand how it’s helped make a meaningful impact in their lives and what other problems you can help them solve.

With these drip surveys, you’re trying to better understand the user’s objective, what they like and dislike about your product, and potentially hook them to collect even more feedback on the backend. Here are some example questions:

7-Day Survey Example: “What was the goal you were trying to achieve when you signed up?” “How well did we help you achieve that goal?”

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Example of a one-click email survey

30-Day Survey Example: “What are the challenges that you still face that we haven’t addressed?” “What feature was the most difficult to use?”

90-Day Survey Example: “How can we improve this product for you?” “What’s the feature that keeps you coming back?” “How has this product made an impact in your life?”

You want to make these surveys simple, ideally with one-click responses directly in the email. When they click on a response, you can capture that data point in a database or spreadsheet, then forward them on to a follow-up survey to gather more feedback.

Each link in the email should go to a Thank You page on your website, and each response should have a unique URL parameter. The Thank You page should store their response tied to their account in your database. On the Thank You page, you can again ask follow up questions, get them to comment, and/or contact customer support or an account manager.

Let’s look at a simple example:

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Example of a one-click engagement survey

Each number, 0 to 10, is an image link to a website, with a unique URL parameter for the response they chose. For example: www.lyft.com/email_survey_recommendation.html?email=user%40gmail.com&response=10

Those URL parameters can be easily stored in a database and used for analysis and to follow up with more targeted emails. There are tools like ConstantContact and ConvertKit that will do this for you, but it’s simple enough to do it yourself, as the cost of all these SaaS tools can add up.

Dormant and Exit Surveys

Dormant and exit surveys are two other important touchpoints to gather valuable customer feedback. I typically send out dormant surveys two weeks after the user disengages with my product and exit surveys immediately following when a user cancels a subscription. Here are some example questions:

Dormant Survey Example: “Hey! We haven’t seen you in a while. Why haven’t you been coming back to us?” “Are you still interested in solving X problem?”

One-Click Responses:

  • I haven’t had time
  • I switched to another product
  • I don’t have that problem anymore
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Example of a dormant email survey

Exit Survey Example: “Why did you decide to cancel your subscription?”

One-Click Responses:

  • Your product is too expensive
  • Your product has too many bugs
  • Your product doesn’t have the features I need
  • I switched to another product
  • I don’t have that problem anymore

For the exit survey, consider it the last chance to retain them. After they complete the survey, offer them a limited time offer promotion as an attempt to gain their loyalty back.

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Example of an exit survey

Other Customer Touchpoints

Sales Product Feedback

Assuming you have a sales team, putting micro-surveys in your sales process is another great way to get a constant flow of customer interviews. As they’re going through the lead nurturing process, provide your customers with an initial survey and an email script. Here is an example:

Initial Survey Example: “What are your goals that you hope our product can help you accomplish?” “What do you like and dislike about your existing solution?”

Email Script Example: “Our Chief Product Officer would love to set up a fifteen-minute interview with you to understand you and your business better, and figure out how we can prioritize your needs. Can I connect you with him?”

This will require you to train your sales team, not only to ask the right questions at the right point in the sales process, but also to collect and submit the responses. Salespeople are usually eager to get the product owners to listen to them, so this is a great way to involve them in the process.

Aside on Customer Interviews:

One thing I want to stress is that, even at scale, you should be conducting regular customer interviews. Even if you’re a large enterprise, you should regularly have real life conversations with your customers. All of the other methods I illustrated here provide a lot of data, but the feedback is on rails. In an interview, you have the opportunity to follow hunches and explore uncharted territory.

The customer interview is one of the most powerful tools in product development. While you do want to automate the scheduling of interviews, I recommend you do at least two live interviews per week, no matter what scale you’re at.

Customer Service Feedback

Collecting feedback while a customer is dealing with customer service is a great way to understand what challenges they’re facing. Customer service teams typically ask for feedback regarding the support experience, but it’s a great opportunity to gather product feedback as well.

Survey Example: “If you had a magic wand, how would you make our product better?” “What problems have you found with our product that you’d like us to fix?”

When people are dealing with support, it’s the most sensitive time in the customer experience. This is the moment when they are struggling, and they need your help. They’re emotional, and you have the opportunity to either lose them forever, or create a loyal customer. As a product leader, you want to be incredibly close to the customer support process.

Actually, I recommend that everyone on the product team takes a shift on customer support once in a while. Whether you’re a product manager, designer, or engineer, there is no better way to connect with your customers than by helping them resolve their issues. It will create empathy, a better understanding of use cases, and put a human face on the users.

Social Media Product Feedback

Social media is a place where people are more comfortable voicing their opinions. If a customer is dissatisfied with your product and voices it over social media, that is a great opportunity to understand what went wrong and offer support. Here’s an example of a response to a customer complaint:

Social Media Survey Example: “I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble! I’d love to connect you with our product manager to make sure we address your issue.””

You can also use a poll to capture data and engage users. As a product leader or manager, you should engage with your community regularly.

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Example of a social media poll

In-app Feedback

Perhaps the most complex, but most powerful way to gather contextual feedback is by capturing it in your app or website itself.

The power of this method is that you can gather feedback at the precise moment the user finishes a workflow. When they reach the end of the flow and ideally completed their goal, you can immediately ask them about their experience. Again, you want to make it as simple as possible to provide feedback, so try to limit it to one or two questions, or simply a 1-5 star rating. If they do provide feedback, you can always attempt to hook them into a longer survey.

In-app Survey Example: “Did this feature help you accomplish your goal?” “How would you rate your experience during this session?”

Customer Support Chat

On your home screen, you want to make it very easy to contact support. On websites, you can use tools like HubSpot to have a floating chat bubble in the bottom-right corner that can easily connect users to customer support on any page. On mobile, you can use LiveChat for the same purpose.

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End-of-Workflow Surveys

After every major workflow in your app, you want to capture feedback about their experience, how well it helped them accomplish their goal, and how it can be improved. You can build your own in-app feedback component, or use one of many third-party tools like Pendo, HotJar, Qualaroo, or TruConversion.

Here’s an example of in-app feedback in the app Human. As you can see, there’s a simple, one-click question, followed by a few more follow-up questions. They also offer a free-text comment, as well as a call-to-action to talk to a real person.

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Here’s another example of how Buffer offers simple, one-click in-app micro-surveys:
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General Product Feedback

In addition to end-of-workflow surveys and customer support chat, you may want to allow customers to leave open ended feedback. This can be used as a catch-all for general product ideas.
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Slack takes an interesting approach, by integrating feedback directly in their chat platform. This way, anyone can submit feedback from anywhere in the app without any additional UI overhead. Sweet!

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There are many different ways to gather customer feedback. The key is to start small, iterate, and evolve over time. I recommend starting with easier channels like social media, sales surveys, customer service, and email drip surveys. Then you can implement in-app feedback tools.

As you stand up each channel, you’ll start getting a nice flow of responses. At first, you’ll have to do some work to organize and analyze the data, which is where reporting and analytics come into play (subject for a later article!). Even if you just read through free-text responses and create some simple pivot charts in Excel, you’ll start getting valuable insights that you can use to make better product decisions.

If You Want to Start Gathering Valuable Customer Feedback, Let’s Talk

I believe so strongly in this methodology, that I’m offering a free consulting call to anyone looking to implement this strategy.

I offer this entire process as a service, from high-level strategy to implementation, analytics, and even roadmap planning. If you want this all done for you so you can focus on building a great product, I’m your guy!

If you want to better understand your customers and start making data-driven product decisions, simply shoot me an email at eric@fullcycleproduct.com, or go to my contact page and let’s chat!

new eBook

Get a FREE copy of my new eBook, Build the Right Things!

I’ve literally written the book on how to build great products that people will love, and I’m giving it away for free. Build your product better and faster, and unlock your next level of growth!