How To: Best practices for product feedback at any company stage
Successful products require continual user input. Through working with thousands of companies, we at UserVoice have seen how feedback gets collected, used, and analyzed differently across various stages of growth.
In this post, we've identified four key stages. Our goal is to provide best practices to help you maximize the value of feedback, no matter where your product currently stands.
Finding Product Market Fit
When first launching a product, validating you're solving a real customer problem is critical. Have in-depth, one-on-one discussions with users to confirm your solution is superior to alternatives already out there.
While impossible to talk to every single user at scale, early on you have the flexibility to connect with many. Capture their thoughts word-for-word in notes or using a service like Fathom. We won't dive into interview best practices here, but focus conversations on the value your product uniquely provides.
Centralize all feedback captured, whether from product, marketing, sales or support. Easy access allows every team to make decisions with the voice of the customer in mind. Availability of on-the-ground insights leads to better outcomes company-wide, whatever the maturity stage.
PipelineCRM achieved this by automating their customer feedback program, getting the team out of spreadsheets (where they were regularly missing key customer insights) and into a consolidated, actionable repository. By doing so, the team has been able to prioritize the right ideas from the relevant target market, helping them build products that solve the current needs of their target market.
Achieving Product Market Fit
Once product-market fit is achieved, interviewing every customer becomes impractical. Shift to more scalable tactics like surveys, in-product prompts, and community forums.
However, don't just rely on explicit feedback channels. Valuable insights also surface during sales calls, support tickets, events and more. Capture both praise and suggested improvements across every touchpoint. Highlighting what delights users about your product reminds teams why product-market fit occurred in the first place.
As volume increases, some management diligence is required. Centralize feedback for easy access and de-duplicate similar suggestions. Also document source details like:
- B2C: Who gave the feedback? What plan are they on? How long have they been a customer?
- B2B: What company do they work for? What tier customer are they? Can we land more like them?
Closing the loop is crucial too, and centralizing this process makes this easier. Thank users for sharing thoughts and keep them posted on how it impacts developments. An industry-leading global streaming provider successfully operationalized this; now, not only can they actually engage with all their feedback, but they’ve been able to give users closure, and provide context as to why something is or isn’t prioritized. This nurtures engaging, loyal relationships that yield ongoing insights about what customers really want and need.
Scaling Your Business
As your user base grows, tap into more sophisticated data analysis to maximize feedback value.
Link quantitative usage metrics to the qualitative user opinions you gather. This contextual insight helps prioritize feature development. Ask questions like:
- What feedback aligns with current company goals? Even older input may be newly relevant given strategy shifts, if you have the context.
- Which features do ideal customers want most? Desire from target segments carries more weight.
- How critical is the feedback? Sentiment analysis by AI tools reveals urgency in tone and precise meaning that can get lost at scale.
AI tools can surface common themes across hundreds of feedback items, de-duplicate ideas, and concisely summarize user wants. Sentiment algorithms also detect nuance from word choice and phrasing.
Capturing feedback rigorously, alongside corresponding user details, makes it easier to identify interest groups around topics. Ultimately, this allows your team to make more informed decisions about their product strategy. A VoC team from one of the world's largest consumer analytics organizations implemented these processes over the last 12 months, helping them prioritize decisions and ensure customer adoption. As an outcome, the team was able to accomplish a strategic goal, migrating users from a legacy system to a new product in record time.
Prior to aggregating and contextualizing their user feedback, this team was, “ … addressing only those who yell loudest, with no metrics to demonstrate that we understand our customer voice in aggregate.” The leader of this team directly attributes the velocity and success with which achieved their goals to their refined user feedback program.
Ultimately, these processes will allow for a more nuanced understanding of user needs and preferences. By efficiently synthesizing both quantitative and qualitative data, businesses can prioritize feature development more effectively and align their strategies with customer insights.
Scaling to Enterprise
How can large companies with thousands of customers and multiple products effectively leverage the inevitable influx of feedback?
First, make it easy for customers to share opinions. Promote clear feedback channels widely across touchpoints like newsletters and in-product prompts. While you can’t control external review sites, great service minimizes negative exposure.
Also tap into the customer conversations your sales, support and customer success teams are having every day. Route relevant insights to the appropriate product teams, and socialize priority development themes back to your teams and your customers.
Volume demands automation. Use organizational tools to tag, filter and route feedback to the right groups. Consolidate data enterprise-wide to handle restructuring.
It’s also critical to be able to prioritize given the large volume of feedback. Enterprise brands like Accelo and Buildium are contextualizing user feedback with segmentation data, allowing them to quantify support and make the case for the most relevant product improvements, and confidently weed out the unpopular or irrelevant ones. This creates a speed in decision making and go-to-market, creating a distinct competitive advantage.
Diverse enterprise client bases also warrant segmentation. Integrate datasets and use details like customer size, industry and legacy solutions to funnel the most relevant information to product teams based on initiatives underway.
- Customer feedback is invaluable at any stage - go above and beyond to capture it across every touchpoint. Feedback is the lifeblood of great products.
- Implement scalable systems early to efficiently manage high volumes of feedback. Disorganization will lead to lost insights and frustrated customers.
- Link feedback to user data and profiles to uncover your most important product opportunities. Not all feedback is equally critical to pursue.
- Leverage latest AI advancements to automatically surface patterns and priorities. Making sense of endless qualitative data is no longer a manual task.
- Getting feedback is crucial; acting on it is essential. Close the loop with customers by sharing how their input shapes developments. Transparency builds trust.
There are a variety of tools on the market to help you get the most value out of your product feedback, but no matter how you get the job done, we know you give a $*&^ about your product, so listen to your customers!