Help your organization understand what users need

Building products is hard and expensive. Yet many teams learn they’ve made a false assumption about what users really need once their new feature goes live — only to go underutilized. This article will outline how Productboard can help your entire organization develop a deep understanding of what users really need so that you can build products that truly matter.
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In this article: 

1. Collect customer feedback in a single product feedback repository

Use Productboard to consolidate all your user feedback, feature requests, and research notes into one centralized repository.

When getting started, you can import historical feedback from a number of sources. You can also bring in feedback from email, SlackProductboard extension for Chromecustomer support tools, Salesforce, and more.

Make collecting and sharing insights an organization-wide effort
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Make it as easy as possible for other teams to share feedback

What do the teams in the picture above have in common? They all serve the needs of their customers, and they all have an interest in understanding those needs. Insights and feedback are the glue that binds you all together so you can identify and focus on the important problems.

As a product manager, you’re the engine of a cross-functional process — it’s on you to break barriers down. We encourage you to support your colleagues by meeting them where they are:

Show your team what good feedback looks like and how to collect it

Productboard helps you develop a standard for quality feedback by providing fields to track who provided it (company, user) and what it relates to (tags). Formatting options in the note description field helps you format feedback for maximum clarity.

We recommend encouraging colleagues who are contributing feedback to always ask why — to seek to understand the underlying need rather than submit feature requests without additional context. Having these insights on hand will go a long way toward helping you prioritize the right features and design the optimal solutions.

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To help ensure colleagues submit the necessary context, consider making note templates available that include headers for each piece of the required information (e.g. product area, request, how this would help the user, etc.) as well as other reminders for attributing feedback or applying tags.

Another way to help structure colleagues’ feedback is to provide them with a feedback form that sends results to Productboard. This can be done using a survey tool like SatisMeter, which is currently being fully integrated with Productboard following its recent acquisition. It can also be done with Google Forms (via Zapier) or Typeform (via Productboard integration).

For more information about sharing good feedback, see the articles Enabling contributors to effectively contribute insights and Getting started as a contributor in Productboard

 

2. Route feedback to the right person efficiently

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Develop a system to route notes to the right product maker

  • Dissect your product into distinct product areas with tags, topics, or keywords and align on who is the owner of each area.
  • Get notes assigned to their owners automatically with Productboard's automation capabilities or by using the Portal, which can automatically associate new feedback to the right feature idea.
  • Assign notes to owners by bulk-selecting them in note views that relate to makers’ product areas.
  • Assign the remaining notes from the Unassigned notes view

For more in-depth tips, see the article Route feedback to the right person efficiently

3. Turn customer feedback into insights faster and at scale

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As you process feedback, highlight insights and link them to related feature ideas:

  • To reduce context-switching when processing feedback, filter for related notes using tags, topics, or keywords and save as a view to easily return to later.
  • Review your feature hierarchy regularly to accelerate the process of linking insights to feature ideas. Clean up duplicates, reorganize your hierarchy, set norms for feature naming with PM colleagues, and refresh your memory on how features are named/organized. Archive features you know you won’t be working on in the foreseeable future.

For more information, see the article Turn customer feedback into actionable insights, faster and at scale!

4. Use insights to decide what to build next

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Learn what matters most to your customers and get inspiration around what to build next. Spot larger patterns to inform your product vision and strategy.

  • See your top-requested feature ideas on the Features board by sorting them with the user impact score, or see what matters most to a specific segment or company — all based on feedback you and your team have linked previously.
  • Easily quantify the value of all your features — based on the total opportunity value (from deals yet to close), or revenue (from current customers) associated with each feature. Aggregated company fields can help you see this as well as quantify other important figures that may represent how valuable customers are to your business, and it’s all based on which companies have expressed a need for which feature ideas.
  • Use these trending user needs to inform what objectives you set to further prioritize feature ideas.
  • Explore the underlying user needs behind every feature idea by reviewing the qualitative user insights that inspired it in the first place. Speed up product discovery with insights already on-hand and ensure you deliver the optimal solution.
  • Recruit users for product discovery interviews or product betas by downloading the emails of everyone with an insight linked to a feature, or if the idea has been posted to the Portal, easily send an update to all who requested the feature.
  • Conduct additional research and validation by surveying customers on ideas you’re still considering, or features that have recently gone live.

Have high volumes of feedback? Use Insights trends and smart topics to automatically surface trends across hundreds or thousands of pieces of feedback — no manual processing required!

5. Close the feedback loop

Sometimes it can feel like there's a gap between the product team and the customers we serve. The Portal can help bridge it.

You can post one or more timestamped updates to each Portal card to keep users informed about a feature’s progress. Updates will be visible to all users who visit a Portal card as well as colleagues in your Productboard workspace. They can also be emailed to all who requested a feature on the Portal, as well as anyone who has submitted an insight that was linked to the feature.

For more information, see the article Close the feedback loop with Portal card updates

Final tips for successfully putting user insights to use

  • Find a senior sponsor/champion to support the processes you set up

  • Clearly define expectations for each member of your team

  • Define success metrics. Here are two goals for your consideration:

    🎯 Unassigned note view gets to 0 on a weekly basis

    🎯 Makers get their active Product area note views to 0 on a weekly basis

  • Monitor your product team’s processing and rebalance the load if someone is getting too much feedback.

  • Block time or create a regular reminder in your team's calendars to invest time in learning from customer feedback.

  • When setting these processes up in your org, continually repeat the benefits of staying on top of user needs. No one wants to spend their precious time building products and features that go unadopted!

  • Recognize and reward colleagues who submit valuable feedback. Everyone loves a little healthy competition! Gamify the feedback collection process and make it fun for everyone.

 

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