A Structured Approach to Acting on Customer Feedback
In a time of hyper-competition, changing technologies and trends, building software becomes easier. And yet, one of five delivered products fail to meet customer needs. The ever-changing customer expectations need innovation. Hence, it is of crucial importance to connect to customer needs and have a clear product vision.
A lack of a clear framework to aggregate, analyze, and prioritize customer needs causes internal friction, stale roadmaps, and revenue loss.
And although this is a key responsibility under the product management role, often it isn’t even included in the job description. But keep in mind that in product-led organizations, this is one of the key factors in how a product manager is evaluated.
Product management teams must attune to how customers use their products today, and how customers will want to use those products tomorrow. By putting the customer at the center of how teams build products, it becomes easier to collaborate, transform roadmaps, and plan.
In a recent Product League‘s #PracticalWednesday session with Lauren Culbertson, CEO & Co-founder at LoopVOC, we’ve learned that transforming roadmap collaboration with Voice of Customer strategies is actually possible.
Here is a framework to get the best value from customer feedback, and put the customer at the center of your growth:
Get the Right People Together and Learn Their Feedback Sources
One of the challenges of customer-led growth is weighting feedback coming from many levels of the organization, beyond product management professionals. We are talking about Sales, Customer Support, and everyone who is in constant interaction with the users.
There are friction points at every cross-functional intersection. Those represent opportunities to dig deeper and understand customer needs even better. And without good strategies, it becomes hard to keep things in context.
When customer feedback is at the center of all the strategies and functions within the organization, teams align their actions on:
- What do they need to build to meet customer needs, and performance metrics
- How should they execute and deliver to meet expectations?
As a result, the partnership between product and other functions becomes more strategic. The team is able to build things faster, and internal debates become more effective by working towards the same goal – providing a holistic user experience that exceeds expectations.
Customer insights derive through various channels and stakeholders. These usually represent:
- Sales – through sales calls,
- Customer Success – through NPS and CSAT surveys,
- Marketing – through online reviews, win/loss calls,
- Customer Support – through support tickets and calls,
- Product Management – through in-app surveys and other types of research.
Aggregate Customer Feedback and Translate It to ROI
The feedback is often tied to new revenue or retention. Hence, it is paramount to bring customer insights gathered by various stakeholders to a common denominator.
“A good starting point is to tie the amalgamated data to return-on-investment (ROI).”
By doing so, it will be easier to get executive team buy-in and to align other stakeholders to the adopted process. It will also tie roadmap and product development to business growth as a product strategy, and help to prioritize or pivot.
Product people must use cross-functional direct and indirect feedback channels. Those will help to get a comprehensive understanding of risks and opportunities. Besides the product usage, teams must daily focus on all the channels that customers use to provide feedback.
Product teams often rely on AI and natural language processing tools to filter through data. Once done, it is necessary to look at the score of impact. To do that, teams look at metrics that tie into revenue or retention. At this stage, it is also crucial to weigh positives and negatives. Solving an issue for some customers can turn into impediments for others. Thus, starting with features and capabilities representing big problem areas is the best strategy.
Analyze And Determine the Root Cause of the Issues Or Needs
The gathered feedback helps to identify the core issues and customer needs. The following are some of the typical trends to look at:
- Positive topics turning negative
- Negative topics
- Minor feature requests (nice to have)
Building the momentum with aggregating customer feedback helps to focus on the actions that the product team should take while measuring performance. Whereas, conducting deeper analysis allows adjusting roadmap plans by customer priorities. And since the product team handles mapping out the path to an effective solution. It is important for them to recommend one and get the buy-in from other stakeholders.
Adopt the Product Roadmap And Track Changes Over Time
To unmask deeper layers of core issues product teams conduct root-cause-analysis (RCA) or use word-cloud tools to find trends. To put findings in context, product teams benchmark those issues against competitors and also look at trends over time. This helps to identify threats and opportunities and gain an understanding of the different aspects of product and market needs.
To close the loop with implementing customer-centered product management, product teams use accountability. It encourages customers to give feedback when they see teams act on it. Finally, by tracking corresponding feedback product teams measure the impact of those actions. When there is improvement then it is good to continue or switch to other problem areas. And if there is no improvement then it is a good indicator to do another series of root-cause-analysis.