February 24, 2020
5 min read
Gino Mangnoesing

4 signs you need a dedicated user feedback system

If you're reading this, I assume you already understand that user feedback is valuable. You might already ask for user feedback in a recurring form and/or keep a list of recurring requests and pain points. You may wonder if you ever need a system to manage user feedback at all. In this article, I'll go over some signs that might help you decide if and when to adopt such a system.

User feedback is invaluable to get a sense of how to improve your product. A strong signal for needing a dedicated tool for managing user feedback is when you lose sight of it.

There are multiple influential drivers that cause this:

  • 🚀 A growing user base
  • 👂 Adding support or feedback channels across touchpoints
  • 😓 Struggling to scale your support team
  • 💩 Ingesting but not digesting feedback (no process to consider and/or act on feedback)

When you lack a process to deal with user feedback, you're taking a substantial risk as a company. Here's why...

You are losing track of feedback

Without a dedicated system, you increase the odds of missing out on urgent user requests or insights. As your job is to prioritize product features, keeping a good pulse on that priority from the users' perspective is key, as it helps you estimate the potential impact a feature might have, with more confidence.

Most users won't give you feedback. They just stop using your product.

Also, your users will feel unheard and won't bother to give feedback in the future. That's causing a problem. Just consider that most users won't give you feedback. They just stop using your product. Most people will simply not take the time to give you the feedback you need to improve. It's not a habit for them. Most people won't bother giving feedback and seek an alternative instead.

Those select bunch of users that do make an effort, really care. They want you to do a better job and make an attempt to point you in the right direction. But when you don't act, they will stop caring and look for something else... (perhaps your competitors' product 🤷)

Finally, a lot of feedback is not helpful, unless you dig deeper. It's very important to ask follow-up questions to better understand why a request feels so urgent for some users. By only asking or receiving feedback you are taking away that opportunity to learn. This is especially problematic for users that give you feedback on something that they experience further down in the customer journey. Because it took a while for them to get there, it will take even more time for someone else to experience AND tell you the same things ⏳. All and all slowing your entire product team down.

A lot of feedback is not helpful, unless you dig deeper

With a dedicated tool to manage user feedback, you'll not only have a process in place to log and organize your feedback. You also build up a System of Record that enables you to delve deeper and ask the right questions to make your feedback actionable.

You get tons of feedback but struggle to make sense of it

When you receive a lot of feedback and ideas you will also have more potential features to build. Perhaps gathering a lot of user requests and feedback will slow you down? Not quite.

The problem is usually not the amount of feedback, but rather a lack of organization of that feedback. What organization of feedback allows you to do is study your feedback within specific segments.

This would allow you to examine feedback based on:

  • Feedback type (feature request, improvement, friction)
  • Product component or funnel stage (settings, user management, sign-up flow, checkout)
  • Customer segment or subscription type (free, premium, enterprise)
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
  • Platform (iOS, Android, Web)
  • Market-side (buyers VS suppliers)
  • etc...

You might think: "That's a lot of work!". Well, it does not have to be. Just start with the most important dimensions and start organizing your feedback so you can slice and filter later on.

Explore feedback from different vantage points so you can better understand and prioritize your product roadmap

With most dedicated feedback tools you can easily log user feedback with segmentation in mind. Which makes it easier to add additional feedback. Especially with integrations to support or CRM platforms, it becomes even simpler to segment your feedback, using the additional metadata those platforms provide. All in all, enabling you to explore feedback from different vantage points so you can better understand and prioritize your product roadmap.

Communication between customer-facing teams and product teams can improve

Customer support/success and sales are very important to retain your customers and grow a business.

These customer-facing employees are the ears and eyes of your organization and get to know your customers through multiple interactions over long periods of time.

As your company scales both in terms of employees and customers, it can cause a lot of stress and chaos within your company. That's perfectly normal. However, it often comes with some challenges to be cautious about, such as:

  1. People in customer support/success becoming overloaded and burned out. It may cause employees to churn.
  2. Support becomes unwillingly fixated on "putting out fires". Helping users in the short term, instead of guiding throughout the entire product journey. It causes frustration and puts your customer loyalty at risk.
  3. Valuable feedback and insights from customers are not documented or shared in the company. They are simply lost, making it harder to learn from feedback.
Customer-facing employees are the ears and eyes of your organization

So what can you do about that? First and foremost, take good care of your people. Customer support is the face of your company, so your users will notice when things are out of control. They'll notice that their questions are not being answered or there is a lack of follow through.

Photo by Arlington Research

Given the pressure and responsibility customer-facing employees have, especially in customer support, it's super important to prioritize their well-being just as much as their training and tools to do their job.

Secondary, anticipate information loss as employees come and go and teams start operating more independently. Make sure you have a process in place to retain valuable insights and prevent information siloes. Timeliness of communication between teams is especially important for user feedback.

If the folks that are working on your product are not made aware (in time) of reasons why your customers struggle to find the value in your product, it's even harder for them to prioritize and build with confidence. Or worse, spending substantial time building the wrong things.

To retain valuable customer insights within the organization, adopting a habit of consistent documentation is an important step to retain user insights. More so, it's even more important to make insights visible for other teams, such as Product and Marketing.

With a system to organize user feedback, you're able to document and diffuse the customer insights inside the whole company.

Ideally, such a system also works the other way around:

Helping you to keep everyone in the loop on the status of requests, which is just as important and brings me to the final sign to watch out for: struggling to close the feedback loop.

You struggle to close the feedback loop

Let's say you pro-actively picked up a common feature request. You've listened to your users. Built the feature they requested. Shipped it with pride and your entire team feels accomplished (as they should).

Two weeks later, only a handful of users adopted that new feature. You start to investigate and notice that few users noticed the new functionality. You quickly realize that it's because you didn't tell them it exists. You start writing an email to share the great news and then you realize...

You have no record of users that asked for this feature. Yikes! 🤦‍♂️

That shiny new feature is adopted very slowly even though you built exactly what users asked for.

That's why it's important to consistently keep track of who asked for what. It allows you to close the loop with customers. They will adopt your new features much faster, and probably give you even more feedback to improve things, and if you keep crushing it they're likely to become loyal customers and might even tell their friends 📣.

Keep track of who asked for what. It allows you to close the loop with customers

In a feedback management system, you're not only keeping track of the most common feedback themes and requests. You're also logging the exact users (and companies) along with the feedback. Allowing you to easily build up a list of people that you can connect back to. You can share good news once you shipped a feature they care about OR better yet, involve them earlier to clarify how to build that feature the right way.

Start tracking feedback like a pro

Adopting new tools in your company is probably something you shouldn't do too often. When you do adopt a new tool it's important to time it right. That way it doesn't get in the way of the goal you're trying to achieve.

If your goal is to build a product that users love. Keeping up with user feedback is essential.

User feedback is the cornerstone in your journey to build an outstanding product

Once you begin to structurally lose feedback, begin to feel overwhelmed by feedback, and/or struggle to close the loop with the customer. It's time to adopt a dedicated system to manage feedback.

User feedback is the cornerstone in your journey to build an outstanding product. By adopting a system designed to help you scale feedback organization you're setting your team up for success, as it enables you to build the product with your customers, not just for them.

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