Feedback is an integral part of product management. Without opening our ears to the very people who use our products day in and day out, we’d be missing out on one of the most valuable sources of data we have at our fingertips. However, customer feedback is an area that many product teams continue to struggle with, and even shy away from.
Since there is much to be learned from the experiences of your peers, here are five of the most common feedback challenges product teams face and exactly what to do about them.
1. Product feedback is scattered… everywhere
Being able to trust feedback data is extremely important. If you can’t trust the data you have, it won’t get used. A huge factor in this is the way that teams collect product feedback.
More often than not, every team will operate differently—each having their own spreadsheet, Trello board, or Google Doc, which quickly turns into a dumpster fire for the very data you need the most. When feedback is scattered across teams and kept in multiple formats, it’s impossible to understand and you certainly won’t be able to use it effectively.
One of the single most important things you can do to improve this situation is establish a single source of truth that all product teams can access. Take the time to communicate this to any team that collects product feedback in some form—usually support, customer success, and sales. By establishing a single place for all product feedback, you’ll create trust and confidence across all teams.
2. There’s no process for product feedback
Once you’ve established a single place to store all of your feedback data, a little process really does go a long way. While this is change and does require work, it pays off over and over again. Creating a solid process around how you collect, review, and communicate back about feedback will do wonders for your product development and it also builds incredible trust with your customers.
The most powerful document at your disposal is a Product Feedback Policy (here’s a great example of one). This document tells your internal teams and customers where to send product feedback, how you use it in product development, and finally, how you will communicate back. Setting expectations up front is crucial—it doesn’t matter if you only review feedback twice a year, you just need to let all of the relevant stakeholders know that this is the case.
3. You can’t close the feedback loop
A key part of leveraging product feedback to its fullest is communicating back. There’s nothing worse than sending feedback to an organization to help them out, only for it to disappear into a black hole (we’ve all been there).
As you write your Product Feedback Policy, explain how you will communicate back. For example, think of the opportunities your team (and/or the marketing team) already have to communicate with customers, and slot product updates into these activities. If you already do this, make a point to clearly highlight which ideas your customers have directly helped you with.
4. Too much or too little feedback
There can be times when you feel like you have too much or too little feedback. The good news is that when you have a solid feedback process, there really isn’t such a thing as too much. By setting expectations and communicating back what you are working on, you’re able to diffuse a lot of the situations that could arise if feedback was scattered and you weren’t communicating with customers at all.
And to be clear, communicating back doesn’t mean you respond to every single piece of feedback you receive—that would be impossible! Communicating back means showing customers they have been heard and explaining what you are working on and why.
The opposite problem is surprisingly common, too—product teams may struggle to get enough customer feedback to help inform their product decisions. As with everything, the approach you take depends on your product and organization so think about what works for you. Here are some suggestions:
- Create an in-app mechanism for capturing product feedback while customers are using your product
- Launch in-app surveys and polls to ask customers a specific question about a product area or problem you are interested in solving
- Reach out to customers directly or run focus groups to better understand customer pain points
- Share your Product Feedback Policy in your marketing materials to show customers where and how to submit feedback to your product teams
5. Getting signal from the noise
Another challenge product teams have with customer feedback is being able to pull signals from all of the data that they are collecting.
At scale, specialist software makes this easy by automatically segmenting feedback data based on who it’s from, the revenue associated with a piece of feedback, or the product area the feedback is about. If you don’t have software in place, make sure you are capturing the basics at the point that customers submit a request.
Understanding context around feedback also helps you make much better product decisions. For example, if you’re focused on building enhancements for enterprise customers, listening to a ton of feedback from small users probably won’t help you, simply because an enterprise organization will have very different needs than a small one. Be thoughtful as you review feedback and make sure you’re listening to the right people at the right time.
Why feedback is your new product team superpower
Effective feedback management will revolutionize how you build products, allow you to make product decisions that have a positive impact on your customers and your growth, and drastically improve efficiency across the organization.
More and more product teams are realizing this and taking the time to set up an effective product feedback process—you can’t afford not to have one. So… what are you waiting for?