It is really important to build a feedback mechanism into your product, especially during beta testing and early releases of your product. Here are a few reasons why:
1) Build customer loyalty - Your customers really want you to succeed, and they really want to tell you how to be successful. They have chosen to be your customer because they conceptually like what you have to offer and you are filling a need. If they like your product they want to make sure you thrive because they rely on you. If they don't like your product they want you to fix the things that make it painful to use. As they say, everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to be heard. If you ask your customers for their opinion they will feel valued. And if you actually listen and respond to them, they will become infinitely loyal advocates of your product.
2) Prioritize enhancements - It is really easy to take on too much too fast when developing a new product or service. I have seen some scary examples of companies trying to conquer the world by building every feature imaginable into their product at once. Unfortunately this typically means that none of the features are well thought out, and the entire user experience suffers. Rather than developing all of the bells and whistles into your product up front, take some time to read through your users' feedback. It doesn't take long to identify patterns as to the enhancements the majority of your customers would like to see. Of course users don't always know exactly what they want, but they will give you some great insight into the problems they face.
3) Generate more revenue - By cultivating a loyal customer base and developing a high quality product that meets your customers' needs you will by default generate more revenue as your customers evangelize the product they helped you build.
So now that you're sold on why to ask your customers for their honest feedback, let me give you an example of a company that does an amazing job at facilitating this process.
I recently started using Action Method by Behance to manage my own daily tasks as they relate to both client projects and personal initiatives. Sean actually got me hooked on their project management notebooks a few months ago after he came across them at a design conference. While there are a number of amazing project management tools available online, what I love about Action Method is their unique methodology that helps transform creative brainstorming sessions into actionable next steps.
While I first became a fan of their "offline" paper products, I soon craved more organizational excellence from Behance. I ventured to their website and discovered that they had recently launched an online project management tool. I immediately signed up and started playing with the web app. Once I became addicted to their web application, I wanted a mobile app. I noticed that they had cleverly placed a feedback button in the bottom right hand corner of the application:
I clicked on it, and an easy-access feedback window appeared:
I didn't even have to leave the screen I was on to tell them how much I liked their new product and that I would be overwhelmed with joy if I could access all of my projects and tasks from my iPhone. To my astonishment I received a personal message from a Behance employee the very next day thanking me for my feedback, and letting me know that since a number of other users had also requested an iPhone app they were in the process of developing a mobile version of the Action Method for the iPhone.
As if this customer outreach from Behance wasn't enough to make me feel valued, a few weeks later I received another email pre-announcing the quiet release of their new iPhone application, proactively asking for my feedback as well as an early review of the app in the iTunes app store. What brilliant marketing to request that their most passionate, vocal users download and rate their application first. As a result, Behance gained a very loyal customer, obtained valuable user-suggested feature requests and functionality enhancements, and ultimately prompted me to promote their product through this blog post. I can guarantee that they will ultimately generate more revenue from me not just because they gave me the opportunity to speak to them, but because they not only listened, they answered.