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How to manage customer feedback

Why bother with customer feedback? Surely the product manager is the product expert and it’s up to them to decide how to develop the product in a way that provides maximum benefit to the users and the business! You’d be surprised how many product managers have that opinion and not only aren’t interested in customer feedback but see it as an affront to their individual authority.

In fact, customer feedback should be a central element of any product manager’s ideation process. While the product manager is the ultimate decision maker, it is essential for them to connect with the end users and understand their experience. The best product managers are proactive – rather than resting on their laurels, they create best practices to collect customer feedback and improve customer satisfaction.

What is Customer Feedback?

Customer feedback is all about getting in touch with the people who use your product and finding out what they think about it. With customer feedback you can answer questions like:

  • Do they enjoy using it?
  • Is there anything they think should be changed?
  • What features would you like added?
  • What do you find most difficult to use?

Often, a customer feedback process is aimed at identifying what are known as the “pain points” – the things that particularly frustrate and annoy the user. Of course this can be a difficult process because you never know how much negative criticism you may attract. But without a customer feedback process you are likely to miss out on important comments and opinions. Real user experience is what product managers can use to decide which parts of the product need to be improved and even jettisoned completely.

How to collect customer feedback

So how do you get that all important customer feedback? Most product managers are stuck in their offices and don’t have much direct contact with the users unless they make a specific effort to reach out to them. However, a range of different methods can be used to get feedback from the users and product managers often use a combination of a few of these methods.

The more information you can get, the more informed you’ll be, but of course product managers are in the business of developing their products so there is a limit to how much time and energy can be dedicated to feedback collection and management. It’s important to remember that collecting the feedback is only the start. In order for it to be useful, the information needs to be categorized and analyzed. Only then can you identify the most profitable ideas and turn them into real features.

Here is a list of some of the most popular methods of collecting feedback:

1.Idea Portal

An Idea Portal such as the tool offered by Craft.io, is one of the best ways of collecting customer feedback directly from the users. It’s quick and easy to set up and you can just leave it to work by itself. The Idea Portal is essentially an external website where users can log in and leave a short note with feature suggestions, ideas on how to improve the product or general feedback.

One advantage of an Idea Portal is that it can include categories which means that the feedback is automatically categorised so can be sorted. While the main use of an Idea Portal is to encourage external users to offer feedback, it can also be used to manage all the feedback you get from other sources. All you need to do is to note down the feedback and then enter it in the portal so it is categorized.

2. Speaking directly with customers

If you want to get real, detailed feedback and reactions to your product, nothing beats an actual conversation with the users where they can give you details of what they like and don’t like about the product. You can set up a one on one meeting with the head of the team using the product but often it is even better to have a conference call with a group of people, because the discussion pushes people to think of more things and give more opinions. Of course it is not feasible to spend inordinate amounts of time speaking to customers, so if you go down this route it is important to choose a few key customers to speak to.

3. Speak to Account managers and Customer Success

There are a few types of people in your company who have direct relationships with the users – usually the account managers and the customer success managers. These people spend their entire days managing the relationship with the users so they are likely to hear about any issues the customers have with the product. If they come to you with feedback then great, but either way it’s always with popping them an email or going to speak to them and asking them to get feedback from the users they speak to.

4. Surveys

Setting up a survey can be a good way to gauge opinion. There are numerous online tools you can use to set up a survey – you can even use a simple google document. Just make sure the survey is short and simple with only a few questions and make most of the answers multiple choice. You can then send it to the account managers or customer success team to send out and wait for the feedback to roll in.

5. Statistics, Heatmaps and user recordings

As a SaaS company, your product likely produces an enormous amount of user data and there are numerous online tools out there that can be used to analyse the user experience and provide feedback. You can produce user statistics, use heat maps to see which parts of the software are most popular with users and even watch user recordings of web sessions. All of this gives valuable feedback about what users like and don’t like about your product.

What to do with the customer feedback

Whether you use one or a combination of the feedback collection methods, there’s no point collecting feedback unless you manage it. The whole point of collecting feedback is to use to improve your product – change or remove features that users find uncomfortable and add features from good ideas.

Here are out top tips for managing the feedback you’ve gathered:

1. Save everything in a centralised system

An Idea Portal such as the platform included with Craft is one of the best ways to manage your feedback. You can use the portal to simply collect feedback by asking users and colleagues to add their ideas and feedback. But at the same time you can take the feedback you received from customer meetings, surveys, account managers, website stats etc and enter them in the system. This means all of your feedback is in one place and you are unlikely to lose or miss out on important feedback.

2. Categorize and prioritise the feedback

If you are able to encourage many of your users to give you their opinions on your product you can easily end up with a large amount of information. It is therefore important to categorise it so you can select the most relevant ideas and feedback. An Idea Portal allows you to set up categories in advance and then users can select a category when they leave their feedback. At the same time you can go through the feedback in the portal and label each entry and mark its priority.

3. Match feedback to goals and objectives

As a product manager you should have already defined a clear set of goals and objectives which can be displayed in your strategic roadmap. When you have categorised and prioritised your feedback you can then go through it and decide which ideas and suggestions match your goals and objectives. If there are any that you want to actually implement you can link them directly to features in Craft.

4. Communicate and share customer feedback with others

Sharing is caring! As a product manager you are likely part of a wider product team so it is always worth sharing the feedback you got from customers.

There are two main reasons for this:

  • To ask your colleagues for their opinions on whether you should make changes based on the feedback.
  • If the feedback affects your colleague’s products you can suggest that they make changes based on the feedback.

5. Follow up with customers who shared feedback

Feedback should always be a two-way street. The customer has no obligation to offer their opinions so it is important to show you appreciate their effort. Always reply to customers who send feedback, whether by a simple email or via a portal. A quick “Thanks for that, we’ll look into it” can do wonders for your relationship with the users.

6. Collect ongoing feedback

Feedback collection should always be an ongoing thing. Your product is a living breathing entity that is continuously developing. So keep that heart beating with real-life information from the people who know best – your users. Keep that Idea Portal going, set up regular meetings with customers, stay in touch with the account and success teams etc. The more info you get the more innovation you’ll promote.

Manage Feedback with Craft – get a Free Trial

Craft’s Product Management Platform includes a built-in Feedback Management Portal that has been specifically designed to help product managers plan their features and make better product decisions. Try it out right now with a 14-day free trial or book a personal live demo with one of our product experts.