Customers today are used to being involved in product design. They’re used to getting the functionality they want, having the product look the way they like, and aren’t afraid to argue over a product’s cost. Most importantly, they know they live in a buyer’s market, which lets them be exacting in their choices.

To exist in this new world, product developers need to incorporate customers’ feedback into their new designs by listening to them. Without paying close attention to what their customers have to say, companies risk losing even the most loyal customers. Even more importantly, they jeopardize an important chance to identify trends that will increase loyalty, grow their customer base, and increase revenue.

Feedback can cover anything design-related: style, color, performance, quality, price, etc. Getting early feedback in the design process can save money and reduce design time by expediting the often costly and tedious revision process.

6 Ways to Collect Feedback

The following are just six effective ways of getting customers’ feedback:

  • Focus Groups: Gather a small, targeted group of consumers for in-depth discussion and feedback about proposed new products.
  • Beta Programs: Give the unreleased product to a small group of users before its release. Let them test it for a time and provide feedback.
  • Social Networks: Post to channels like Twitter and Facebook to encourage discussions and gather direct feedback. This approach is especially useful for companies with younger demographics and for building customer loyalty.
  • Product Reviews: Create product reviews on product pages to allow customers to rate their satisfaction with the product, as well as their opinions of its performance.
  • Sell-through/Return Rates: Track which products are returned most often and which products sell best using analytics.
  • Relationship Tracking: Aggregate customer feedback via surveys and other rating systems.

PLM and Customer Usage

When collecting consumer feedback in concepting, teams can create storyboards using Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems. The storyboards can then be used to assist with focus groups or concept planning meetings. Combining data from the methods described above with these storyboards helps teams incorporate customer feedback into their designs.

Teams can also use PLM systems to collect valuable information by looking at past products’ performance reviews, trial data, and sales. While this isn’t direct feedback from consumers, revealing information about buying habits and popular product types can be gleaned from analysis of the data in these systems.

We have found that PTC Windchill is fast, secure, web-based PLM software that allows companies to manage product content and processes. PTC Windchill is the only PLM system that is data neutral, meaning you can upload any CAD file and integrate with any ERP system. Its features include:

  • Single source of product information/content enables development efficiencies, reduces errors and rework
  • Complete product definition and collaboration capabilities expertly drive cross-enterprise understanding of information – regardless of source
  • Repeatable, end-to-end process support and automation speeds time-to-market and reduces development cost
  • Secure, industry-standard Internet architecture delivers a safe, high-performing technology platform
  • Provide product information access to all team members in a Web-centric and scalable environment
  • Collaborate on centrally organized digital product information through markups and real-time collaboration
  • Electronically markup Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) including the ability to approve, reject or question specific designs
  • Automatically generate PDF files for secure document reviews, as well as record annotations and watermarks without altering the actual document