UserVoice’s Facebook Tab App Funnels Customer Feedback into Actionable Suggestions

Customer feedback solution startup UserVoice today launched a tab application for Facebook which allows users to enter suggestions and vote up the best ideas. By focusing users on submitting actionable feedback instead of just their opinions, UserVoice allows companies and organizations to collect valuable data on what their customers want. UserVoice also released a version of its service which can be embedded into iPhone apps — part of the company’s strategy to reduce friction in the feedback process across platforms.

As all types of real world entities create Facebook Pages and drive users there instead of to proprietary websites, Facebook also becomes the best place to offer customer support and feedback channels. Get Satisfaction worked with Involver to release a customer support tab application in March, and Parature released a tab app focused on around questions in August. UserVoice, however, appears to be the first centered around working towards solutions instead of registering complaints or inquiries. Without it, feature suggestion can lead to clogged inboxes or unruly forums which make it difficult to determine the consensus of users.

The company launched in 2008, has eight employees, and is based in San Francisco. It has taken $800,000 in funding in a round led by Baseline Ventures. UserVoice has registered 52,000 admins, and has collected feedback from over 16 million people across it’s different sites, apps, and widgets. The system can be licensed as a free trial or for $19 a month for minimal customization and admin capabilities, or up to $589 a month or more for a custom, white-labeled design.

UserVoice’s Facebook tab application allows those who visit a Page to submit feedback through a composer reading “I suggest you…” and a prompt that states “Enter your idea (new feature, suggestion, etc)”. This helps clients harness user feedback to improve their products or services. Users can decide how many of their limited allotment of votes they want to lend an idea, and the ideas with the most votes rise to the top. This makes it efficient for admins to determine the most urgent requests, and prevents especially active users from drowning out the ideas of others — something common on standard forums.

A client’s dedicated UserVoice feedback site and Facebook tab app are synced, displaying suggestions or comments from either on both. Votes on the a UserVoice website can easily be shared to Facebook or Twitter.

In the Admin Console, ideas can be assigned a status such as “under review”, “started”, “completed”, or “declined” to inform user that the company is listening. When a suggestion is closed (completed, or declined), users receive their votes back for allocation to remaining suggestions. Admins can also leave notes on ideas for other admins, and UserVoice is testing a new ticket system for assigning responsibilities. When admins reply to ideas, their comments always appear expanded, giving them increased prominence and visibility within discussions.

Setting up the UserVoice tab application is relatively simple, even though the site’s new user flow is slightly awkward. Once a user signs up for a UserVoice account, they customize the look and settings of their dedicated site, and register which Page they’ll add the tab to. What’s confusing is that the Launch step of the flow doesn’t include a direct link to the installation instructions which are buried in the Documentation sidebar tab. These instructions provide the general UserVoice Facebook app’s URL where users must click “Add to my Page” to actually install the configured tab app.

UserVoice’s new iPhone app integration lets clients embed a piece of code in their app, allowing users to submit suggestions, view ideas, and vote. Unique to the integration is a prompt to rate the currently used application. If the user rates it four or five stars, UserVoice provides a link to the App Store where they can submit an official rating. Accumulating positive ratings is crucial to discovery in the crowded app store, making UserVoice a valuable tool to iPhone developers.

UserVoice allows for market research in reverse, where customer feedback find companies and naturally clusters into actionable ideas. While originally designed for web services, it has been used by the city of Santa Cruz to vote on budget options, the city of Vancouver to propose green initiatives, and a record label to find new bands to sign. UserVoice doesn’t aim to replace a traditional customer support system, but does allow feedback to be funneled in a way that’s satisfying for users and functional for clients.