Capture Genuine User Feedback

Feedback is one of the essential elements of good communication. As Michael Gelb once said, "Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it." It seems as though every company is embracing feedback in the age of transparency. Let's look at three amazing services that enable web-business owners to capture user feedback that makes a difference in their business processes. 

User Voice: UserVoice offers a hosted way to capture feedback by allowing users to voice opinions, suggestions, and complaints. Its unique voting system puts the best and most popular items on the top (via Digg-style voting) but with a twist. Rather than just a simple "vote up," UserVoice allows customers to spend votes on each idea. This makes it easy to see which ideas may have small but passionate appeal and which ones receive broad but shallow support. What will be most appealing to those considering such a technology platform is that UserVoice is incredibly scalable. (It can grow with you.) The lite version of the product is free, comes with three forums and handles up to 10,000 users - perfect for startups and small businesses. The gold version ($589/mo) is ideal for larger, customer-facing companies and is quite feature rich with tools like user and suggestion analytics, domain aliasing, custom design and email support.

CrowdSound: CrowdSound is a widget that works well as a way to provide value to customer relationships and product development. By easily embedding the CrowdSound social feedback widget, websites/companies are not forced to make users register (or navigate away from the page) to receive customer feedback. CrowdSound users can customize the color of the widget , add "buckets" or categories for ease of management, and even have access to "on-the-fly" language switching. The free version comes with filtering (for spam and curse words), and can handle unlimited accounts. The Plus account, on the other hand (just $10/mo), gives CrowdSound users the ability to submit private suggestions and an enterprise-level SSL to protect the data for admins, and the widget itself can be customized. If that weren't enough for your ten bucks, you'll also get the iPhone app, which lets you access administrative features using your iPhone.

Suggestion Box: SuggestionBox provides an interactive suggestion system for users to submit suggestions for improvement to any company. Companies using SuggestionBox can manage customer feedback (with some good administrative tools, such as the ability to manage multiple users and permissions and grouping similar suggestions together) and have the ability to collaborate with customers (through private messaging, auto responders, and broadcast messaging). One of the more interesting features of SuggestionBox is the internal scorecard, which lets administrators keep track of votes and comments associated with the votes. Pricing for SuggestBox (there is a 30-day free trial) starts at $49.50/mo for one internal user. Additional users will cost you another $9.95/mo each.