Step-by-step guide with examples
You’re a SaaS business serious about building a product your customers love.
That means that you add new functionality when your customers ask for it.
And that means you need a system for managing feature requests and customer feedback.
What’s the best way to do that? How can you handle customer feature requests so that they get on the roadmap and don’t get lost?
This article gives you a step-by-step guide — with examples — to build a user feedback collection system that you can trust — whether you’re a new startup or an enterprise.
First, figure out where your new feature requests come from. This might be your customer support tool (Intercom, Help Scout, Zendesk), CRM (Hubspot, Salesforce, etc.), customer calls, emails, Slack, or something else.
- Make a list of these sources of customer feedback.
- Identify the most important one.
Example: You know that you get feature requests and user feedback from Zendesk, support emails, and occasionally through Typeform surveys. Zendesk is your most important source of customer feedback.
Now, you want to collect your feature requests from your sources into a single place where you can analyze them. You can collect user feedback in any number of tools — spreadsheets, Trello, Google Docs, etc. You can also use a purpose-built feature request management tool like Savio.
The approach you pick here probably depends on your volume of requests and what you want to do with them once organized.
- The basic version is kludging together a manual way to centralize user feedback. This may even be copying and pasting feedback from one tool to another.
- The intermediate version is to automate the process to eliminate manual work. Remember, the more friction you remove from the system, the more likely your team will actually use it.
- The advanced version is expanding to connect all your feedback sources, not just one. But you can do this later — I recommend starting with one only feedback source to begin with.
Example: You can copy and paste feedback that you receive in Zendesk to Google Docs.
Or, for a more automated process, you can use Savio’s Zendesk App to send feedback from Zendesk to your Savio Feedback Vault.
It will automatically get added to your Savio vault.
Next, respond to the customers and let them know you’ve captured their requests. This is actually a really powerful step. It shows you’re listening to their pain points and fosters customer loyalty.
Example: Here are some examples of how we respond to our customers.
Here’s the part where the system gets a bit tricky. Eventually, your feedback will be a kind of data that you analyze. Based on your analysis, you’ll prioritize some features above others. To really do that analysis well, you need to organize your feedback as it comes in and add critical information and attributes. Important information and attributes to note along with your feedback include:
- Relevant feature requests. Make sure each piece of feedback is associated with a feature request. Try to be consistent so that requests for the same feature are associated with each other.
- The person making the request. Who makes the request matters. Keep track of the person’s contact information so you can get in touch with them later to ask any questions or close the feedback loop (Step 8).
- The company or account. If your business has company- or account-level clients, keep track of this too. It will help you keep requests made by different people from the same company together.
- Relevant customer details. We also like to keep track of customer attributes that may help you make prioritization decisions (Step 6): things like MRR, whether the customer is active, their subscription, and more.
Example: If you’re using spreadsheets to keep track of product feedback, you could have columns for each of those attributes: customer contact information, company, MRR, subscription, and so on.
If you’re using Savio, we’ve taken care of this all for you. This categorization and organization step — we call it triage — involves selecting a feature request, ensuring that the right person is attached to the request (which is done automatically when you log feedback from your support tool or CRM), and including any tags that might be relevant.
You need to ensure your Product team members see the feedback and types of feature requests that customers are asking for.
If you’re a product manager or are on the Product team, this step will happen naturally as you’re managing your feature request tracking system. But if you’re setting this system up as a Customer Success team member, or from another team, this step is more important.
We recommend holding a scheduled meeting to discuss feature requests with Product. These should happen at least as often as you update your roadmap, so Product can understand what customers are asking for before they make prioritization decisions.
Example: If you’re using spreadsheets, you can share the spreadsheet with Product at a regular meeting. You can use formulas to filter and sort requests to show Product what customers are asking for.
If you’re using Savio, you can easily filter and sort feature requests by customer attributes.
For more detail, you can click into a feature request to see customer verbatims.
Read more: How To Run Your Product Meeting Using Savio
This is the hardest part: deciding what to build next. Prioritizing feature requests is especially difficult when you don’t have a clear idea about what your customers want. It becomes much easier when you have insight into your customers’ problems and the solutions they’re asking for. (Hint: this is why we were so concerned with categorizing and organizing our requests in Step 4).
In order to make good prioritization decisions, you need to be clear on your business goals. Maybe this quarter you’re working on reducing churn, or getting more customers on a paid plan, or building features that support a strategic direction. Being clear on your most important objective will make prioritization easier.
Now, pick features that align with that goal:
- Trying to reduce churn? Prioritize features requested by churned customers.
- Want to win more deals? Prioritize features requested by customers from lost deals.
- Looking to expand customer accounts? Prioritize requests from customers with open deals.
Example: You have several enterprise clients that make up the majority of your revenue and you want to keep them happy. So this quarter, your product team chooses to prioritize features from Enterprise clients. You sort through your requests to find the ones most popular among your Enterprise clients. Those get priority on your product roadmap.
Now the features are getting built. The next step is to follow them through the product development process. You want to know when they’re shipped so you can tell your customers, so your marketing team can create marketing content, so your support team can provide support on it, and so on.
So, build a way to track their status into your workflow:
- The basic version is to regularly email your dev team for updates. (Be nice — they’re working hard.)
- The advanced version is to automate this so that when a ticket gets updated in their development tool, the requests’ status updates automatically in your system.
Example: Savio updates feature request statuses automatically when they change in Shortcut or from Jira. As your Dev team updates a particular feature request status in their pipeline, its status gets updated in Savio, too.
When your Devs change a status in their development tool…
… you’ll see the status updated automatically in Savio.
Automation for the win.
Closing the feedback loop means following up with a customer when you built a feature that they asked for. It’s an optional step, but we highly recommend it. It’s easy, and it gives you credit for listening to your customers. You show that you’re hearing customer experiences and expectations, that their feedback matters to you, and that you’re committing to building a product they love. It’s so powerful.
So build that follow up into your process:
- The basic version of this step is to email each customer manually when you build a new product feature they ask for.
- The advanced version is to automate this and send batch emails.
Example: In Savio, you can close the loop with customers that asked for a product feature request in just a few clicks. Just draft your email template, select the customers, and hit send.
By now you have a system for handling feature requests. You’re tracking them, you’re keeping them in a single place, you’re categorizing them and organizing them so that you can use them to prioritize and make good product decisions. Then, you’re paying attention to when they get built and then letting your customers know.
Eventually, you’ll see results. As you build a product that consistently meets your customers’ expectations, you’ll find you get more customers and more feedback.
This is a really good thing.
You just have to make sure your system can handle it.
As you’re starting out, you might cobble together a feature request tracking system using Jira, a spreadsheet or even Trello. But eventually, this will get inefficient. You may notice that requests fall through the cracks.
Consider scaling your system to a purpose-built feature request software tool for SaaS teams. And — no surprise here — we highly recommend Savio for that.