Prioritizing customer feedback, challenges and learnings
Priority is a question of goals. If you’re directing the ‘What should I prioritize first? The answer you’ll likely receive is ‘well, what do you want to do?’
When you build products to solve a specific problem and want your customers to hire these products on an everyday basis, it’s inevitable that the minute you ship your first features, tapping into your customer base will allow you to build the best version of your product.
Feedback is one of the most valuable tools you have for improving your products. Without leveraging your users’ input to guide your product decisions and roadmap, it’s impossible to build a truly customer-centric product.
But first, what is Customer Feedback?
Customer feedback is information your business receives directly from customers informing you about their experience and satisfaction levels regarding your product or service.
But there are challenges and issues when it comes to prioritizing this feedback, that I have seen from my experience
- Why do you want this feedback? What do you with it?
- Differentiating feedback between, is it a “nice to have” or “need to have”?
- Too much feedback? feeling overwhelmed already? What type of feedback is it? Feature feedback/ request, bugs, generic positive/ negative feedback, usability issue, junk (nonsense feedback like “jambopasta!”) etc
- Usually, the loudest group of people getting most of the attention when they provide feedback. While the other % who are not considered add room for churn
- Voting for prioritizing feedback? The biggest issue is, it turns into what the other is saying and “let’s follow” the group, where users are voting simply because others are.
- Sitting too long administrating the feedback coming in, collecting, trying to prioritize with fancy frameworks and requests
The thing about feedback from your customer base is that customers don’t know what they want, they just know they have a problem. It is our job as PMs to find these problems.
Customer feedback is of obvious benefit to product managers and pretty much anybody in your organization. There are many reasons an organization seeks out customer feedback. But the challenge is first, getting the customer feedback right!! But also saying, always having the “right feedback” does not mean you will end up building a product that the user needs.
The value of the feedback is […] the synthesis of the learnings from that feedback. — Sachin Rekhi
So what do here?
The story is, feedback should be only an input in your product, it shouldn’t get prioritized into your roadmap. It should be used as a way to validate or invalidate ideas or hypothesis in your backlog.
Your items that you’re working on, including your product roadmap and backlog, should point to first what problems are you trying to solve and second, does it align with your current product objectives and initiatives.
Prioritizing your product ideas or opportunities, features should align with the common vision, strategy and company goals.
Hence, as PMs, we gather feedback from users after launch. We reflect on how to act on it and contemplate how well the team worked together to ship what was worked on. Feedback is there to help you understand what people are saying, and what the best solution might be to a particular problem.
Features that are added to your roadmap based on requests from your customer will result in terrible products; especially when your backlog can be full of feedback from noise from your most demanding customers, , free triallers, and churned users.
A roadmap driven by customer feedback alone causes more harm than good. It can lead to a whiplash that teams experience jumping back and forth from their roadmap to newly prioritized work that came about from a single piece of user feedback. Remember, Customer feedback is there to help you understand possible problems to solve.
Prioritizing the data coming in from different channels is the key. When you have the data coming from customers and know who it is coming from, you as a PM bring real data insights to backup your product roadmap decisions and create something special for your customers.
There is still a divide between customer feedback and the value that you can draw from it. The idea is, when the feedback comes in, it doesn’t come in with a calculation of “how many users are impacted,” so that’s up to the product manager to determine through analytics, customer interviews, and shadowing. Use feedback for anything that might impact your product for regulatory reasons and to validate or invalidate ideas or opportunities
Hope you liked reading this! :)