Turn customer feedback into actionable insights, faster and at scale!

By investing the time into processing your notes — that is, linking insights to relevant feature ideasyour team will always be equipped to prioritize the right features and design solutions that solve user needs.

This article is part of the best practice series which outlines how you can help your entire organization develop a deep understanding of what users need and, in turn, build products that matter.

Read on for some techniques makers can adopt to help turn incoming customer feedback into insights efficiently! Whether you have just started using Productboard or are looking to continuously learn from a large amount of feedback, these techniques will provide a huge productivity boost for you.

In this article:

Many makers only work with feedback about initiatives they are actively working on, which can easily lead them to over-optimizing their solutions to the use case they are focused on and hurt the overall workflow for the end user.

Keep a pulse on your customer's voice by continuously learning from notes relevant to you. Spot larger patterns and opportunities to serve as a basis for long-term product strategy and build up your customer empathy quickly.

Leverage Insights boards to learn from related notes together

Insights boards allow you to group related notes together based on a set of filters. If all the notes you review in one sitting relate to a single type of customer or a certain area of your product, there will be less context-switching required, and you'll be able to link insights to your features quickly. Here are some tips on how to set up your Insights boards to help you speed up your learning.


Review pre-linked feedback from portal votes and direct feature feedback

To boost your dopamine early at the beginning of each processing session, you can create an Insights board with pre-linked notes coming from portal votes and direct feedback for your feature ideas.

Tip: Set such an Insights board for your pre-linked notes by combining the following filters to see all feedback added to specific feature ideas — whether submitted by customers on the portal, or colleagues logged in to Productboard.
  • Note title: Contains any of these (Portal - vote, Direct feedback for a feature)
  • Owned by: Yourself
  • Status: Unprocessed

Keep in mind that colleagues and customers don’t always vote or share insights on the features that you’d link to yourself. As such, you may still want to read what they say and potentially re-link the feedback or add links to other features before blindly hitting the process button.

Review notes from similar product areas in one sitting

Create Insights boards for product areas of your interest to help you find notes that matter to you quickly.

When processing product area feedback together, Smart Feature suggestions will be most effective. They suggest features you linked to recently and/or features that seem the most relevant based on the note’s and feature’s content, which can save you a couple of clicks on each note, and do the clicks add up!

You can use your team’s product area mapping table, as described here. But no worries, if you don’t have a formalized mapping, just think about what tags, keywords, and topics are important to you and go from there — after all, you can always change your filter definition later on.

Tip: Set up multiple Insights boards for a single product area to have good coverage, and combine the below filters:
  • Status: Unprocessed
  • Insights importance: Notes without insights
  • Tags, keywords or topics to define owned product areas

    In some cases, your product area may overlap with another product manager’s, or the same note may contain feedback related to multiple product areas. That’s why Owned by filter is not included in the recommended set up, allowing you to find notes that end up assigned to someone else but contain nuggets of intel relevant to you too.

    Also, if you’ve avoided marking some older notes as “processed” so that a colleague has a chance to review them, you can apply a date created filter to see just the feedback that has arrived since you reviewed the Insights board last.


Process remaining notes from Assigned to me Insights boards

Once you finish the previous Insights boards, it’s the right time to jump to Assigned to me.

If you start seeing a pattern among the leftover notes, consider tweaking or creating additional Insights boards to slice things according to your latest needs. This also includes adding and removing Insights boards from Favorites.

Invest time to keep your feature hierarchy organized

One of the things that can slow down processing notes is difficulty finding the right features to link insights to. Below are some tips for optimizing the hierarchy of feature ideas so that you link relevant feature ideas quickly.

Limit the number of new features you create

Rather than create a new feature idea for every new user request ("User can't find the export button" "User confused what 'print' button does," "Export data to PDF," "Export data to email"), try lumping related requests under a broader feature representing a common need ("Help users easily share data with colleagues"). If needed, you can break these out into separate ideas later and bulk re-link the underlying insights.

Adopt feature naming conventions that help you quickly find the right feature

When searching for features to link an insight to, sometimes you get no results because the phrase you used is only in the components name or your keywords do not match the feature’s title. You can dedicate either an emoji or a pre-fix for a product area or even agree on whether your team will use verbs or nouns to name features (e.g., Notify user… vs. Notifications…). Review Naming and defining feature ideas to learn more.


Review your Features hierarchy periodically

We recommend you spend some quality time with your hierarchy on a monthly/quarterly basis to clean up duplicates, reorganize your hierarchy, and norm with product manager colleagues on feature naming, and refresh your memory on how features are named/organized. Find some more clean-up tips here: Maintaining your workspace.

Speed up processing with keyboard shortcuts

  • Use arrow keys to advance to the next/previous note in your Assigned to me.
  • Press S to process/unprocess the selected note.
  • Press T to add a new tag.
  • Press A to archive a note.
  • Press DEL to delete a note.

In Productboard, type a question mark to view all available shortcuts.

keyboard shortcuts.jpg

By following the above tips, you can turn notes that matter to you into actionable insights efficiently. What you’ll get is a better empathy with your customers, which will equip you to make better product decisions and think strategically. See how you can further leverage captured insights to identify the right problems & solutions to focus on.


How should I handle notes that include feedback relevant to multiple teammates?

While notes can only have one owner, they may be relevant to more people on your team. If you are the first person to read a note’s content and are done linking relevant insights to your features, you can assign it to another maker to review. If there are 2+ people whom the note is relevant to, you can comment on the note mentioning people you think will find it relevant.


How to work with a large volume of notes that your team has no chance to link and process one by one?

Organizations that face large volumes of inputs from customers and colleagues may see the value in finding gold nuggets of user insight amid the waves of incoming feedback, but struggle to stay afloat. If this sounds familiar and the above tactics are insufficient, here are a few approaches for your consideration.

Use smart topic detection

Smart topic detection (an AI add-on feature) can apply built-in intelligence to help you automatically categorize hundreds or thousands of pieces of feedback. It helps distill trending topics so you can spot opportunities you might have missed. And when it comes time to explore feedback on a certain topic yourself, you’ll be able to easily review a number of auto-categorized notes related to a common topic in one sitting.

Create Insights boards for inactive product areas and leave notes assigned but unprocessed there

When you have no plans to invest in a part of your product in the next, let's say, 24 months, your team may not get value from linking each note. In this case, you can aim to have the note tagged and assigned but unprocessed. You can still explore trending tags, topics, or just a set of keywords in your feedback with Insights trends.

Get help from a user researcher, associate product manager, or intern

Many organizations have found success by adding an additional layer to the process: a team of user researchers dedicated to analyzing trends in incoming feedback (and also proactively seeking more feedback on certain topics).

Another option is to make this the responsibility of an associate PM or product management intern. There are a few better ways to get acquainted with a problem/solution space or industry than by reviewing hundreds of pieces of feedback streaming in from customers. Associate PMs can serve as an initial line of defense by clearing out less relevant inputs, and processing feedback on well-understood topics or those that are less urgent.

Coming soon!

We plan to extend our capabilities and allow you to Bulk link entire notes to feature ideas — leave your feedback on this Portal card if this is something that you are interested in.

How to link a piece of feedback to a broader idea?

Sometimes a new user insight rocks your world. It's something new, and you don't have any related feature ideas for it yet. We recommend linking these ideas to components higher up in your hierarchy. (For that reason, our team uses components to represent high-level user needs.) Later, you can look for trends across all of the insights linked to those components and re-link them to new feature ideas beneath.

Continue reading our best practice series about a deep understanding of what users really need. Next up: Use insights to decide what to build next

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