Updated email notification

How I read and respond to user feedback

After writing the previous post, I thought I’d share another script I use, this time to respond to user feedback for my Chrome apps.

All the feedback links in the apps, and the link on page that opens when they are uninstalled, direct to this form.

Chrome apps' feedback form
Chrome apps’ feedback form

The problem

On submission, the form adds a row to a spreadsheet with each of those input fields in a separate column. Google provides a notification option for whenever the form is submitted. However, the default email sent by Google is quite useless:

Default notification emails
Default notification emails

The default notification email requires a click-through to see the changes. This is sad enough on the desktop. On mobile, it’s completely useless – requiring me to open a big spreadsheet to see just one new row of data!

The solution

Apps Script: Better email notifications
Apps Script: Better email notifications

Unsatisfied with the default email, I wrote an apps script to create nicer, clearer, and (most importantly) actionable email notifications. Here’s a summary of what the script does:

  1. Every time the form is submitted, the script reads the rows in the worksheet, and filters out those flagged as already processed.
  2. For each remaining row, the script uses an email template to craft a simple html email with details of the feedback.
  3. The script then sends me one email for each feedback submitted, setting the reply-to address to that of the feedback provider, and finally, flags the feedback as processed.

The output, in my inbox1, now looks like this:

Updated email notification
Updated email notification

This notification email gives me all the details about the feedback submitted. And, best of all, this allows me to respond to the user by simply replying to the email – actionable! I almost never need to open the spreadsheet anymore :)

Even better – now I can use email based triggers in tools like Zapier and IFTTT to add some of this feedback to my todo-list or the product-backlog. Thus, fully automating the workflow – all triggered by a user submitting feedback.

This new process has been transformational for me. I’ve been able to resolve and respond to most feedback faster, as well as quickly add key suggestions to my product-backlog. I can also log the key completed tasks in iDoneThis just as easily by forwarding a truncated feedback email.

Even without this efficiency increase, just the satisfaction of not having to click-through to see the feedback is alone enough the effort of writing and testing this script.

Hope this too is helpful to someone out there!

P.S.: If you’ve automated similar feedback using Google sheets (or something else), I’d love to read your solution. Please share!

  1. The MailApp API in apps scripts has a hidden hurdle – it doesn’t allow a user emailing herself using the apps-script. So, you’ll need two google (or google apps) accounts to make this work. As you can see in the notification email snapshot, the email is coming in from my secondary account (different profile image). 

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