Managing Customer Feedback Within Product Management Teams
The below question on managing customer feedback got my attention when I was going through one of the product management forums, mostly because I totally feel their pain:
“How do you manage feedback? Is everyone else tired of spreadsheets?”
When I worked in support, it was so hard to give my product manager the right information and usually it all came down to trying to understand a spreadsheet dump. So let’s kick this off by saying yes – there absolutely is a better way, but I’d like to take a step back first and break this down into different buckets of information.
Do Not Call Customer Feedback Feature Requests
This is your opportunity to change the conversation. What you’re receiving is feedback on how you might improve your product and what your customers are struggling with. A “request” implies you will have to work on every item that comes in, whereas feedback gives you more flexibility as to how you handle things. Whether it’s positive or negative, it’s then up to your product team to manage this customer feedback and handle things appropriately.
Gathering vs Tracking
I like to separate the concept of gathering vs tracking. Gathering is something you should do with as many tools as possible – don’t limit yourself. Whether it’s through social, email, conversations, or your different customer-facing teams – open up as many channels as possible. This makes it easier for people to actually want to engage with you. There certainly isn’t a lack of tools that will help you do this.
Tracking is a separate step of the process, and in my opinion the most important part, as it will determine how things impact your product backlog and eventually how items get prioritized. For this, we built and use ProdPad. Why? Because customer feedback is what helps validate your product backlog, so having it in a separate tool makes absolutely no sense. You need to understand the qualitative and quantitative aspects of it.
Saying thank you is the first step. But for every piece that comes in, we make sure the person handling understands how to respond – that is, always asking why. Why do they feel they need this feature they’re asking for? How might it help them do their job? This is significant in two ways: one, it trains our team member in understanding what the product needs and how the product works and two, it lets the customer know we’re not just taking the piece of feedback and dropping it off to be lost, but that we actually want to (and need to) understand what they’re struggling with.
This is a biggie as it closes the feedback loop. Just answering and saying “thanks” isn’t where it ends, you then need to get back to the customer and close the feedback loop once the idea is implemented. This will give you the opportunity to bring back lost leads, but also create an atmosphere of trust. Just getting back to someone and thanking them for making a difference in your product makes them feel like it matters. Again, we use ProdPad for this. All feedback links back to a contact who we can then reach out to when the item is released. We generally include a quick thank you note as well as either a video or a how-to doc as to how the feature works. Boom, you’re a superhero.
Managing your customer feedback in a system (not a spreadsheet) that allows you to understand who the feedback came from, why, and how it’s impacting your product backlog, is not only making things easier for yourself but for your team. Your customer-facing teams will have an easier time speaking to your customers, you’ll have a better way of understanding and prioritizing feedback, and you’ll be on your way to building great products.
How do you manage customer feedback? Drop us a comment below and let us know. Or book yourself in for a demo with one of our product experts to learn how ProdPad can help you overcome this problem.