Congratulations, you’ve got a product that’s ready for testing. If you’re like me, you call up your family and friends and ask them to give it a try. Great news! They all think it’s fantastic, and they provide nothing but encouraging feedback.
So, you think, “Awesome. I’m onto something big here” Before you get too excited, take another look at what you’ve really learned. Of course the feedback is good. These are your family and friends! Be careful not to get lulled into a false sense of security.
When I founded an online accountancy a few months ago, I reminded myself that this feedback means only that the product is not a complete failure. That’s an important data point. But it’s not enough.
Here are three ways I learned to generate accurate feedback, even from your parents:
1. Ask for negative feedback. To get honest feedback, ask probing questions of family and friends. In my case, I made sure to get specific information about what was good and, as important, what wasn’t. Specifically, I asked for negative feedback. This isn’t always easy, of course. Friends and family may be worried about hurting your feelings. But by indicating that you’re not worried, it may free them up to let the critiques rip.
2. Go outside your inner circle. Another option is to get strangers to tell you what they think. Again, you need to solicit specific feedback. Here’s an unexpected problem I ran into: Strangers find it even harder to give you negative feedback directly to your face than your friends. One way around this problem is allowing people to provide anonymous feedback.
3. Pay attention to unsaid cues. If you’re forced to get in-person feedback, pay attention to body language and what is not being explicitly stated. For me, I watched how comfortable they were as they gave feedback and listened to the tone in their voice rather than just what was being said.
How did you attract honest feedback while testing your products or services? Let us know in the comments section below.