How To Track Feedback and Feature Requests that Come in Via Email
Email is a critical source of product feedback, especially for early-stage companies and SaaS startups.
My business partner and I used email almost exclusively in the early stages of building Savio. In fact, Savio’s original design was based on hundreds of conversations with product leaders from companies like Slack, Drift, and Zapier. Those conversations generated emails that were critical to our product roadmap.
As our customer base grew, feedback started coming in from a number of other sources as well—Intercom, social media, feedback forms, and so on.
But even as we’ve scaled up those channels, email has consistently provided us with a rich source of product feedback. It almost certainly could do the same for you if you set up your feedback collection system properly.
Below I’ve provided a quick guide aimed primarily at SaaS companies (but relevant to others as well) for carefully tracking and acting on the feedback you get through email. I explain why it's critical to collect, and I’ll show you several different ways you can build it into your product planning workflow.
Why track email feedback?
If you sell a product or service and have a public email account, you’re almost certainly getting feedback through that channel. And it’s almost certainly useful to you. That feedback can be used to build better software, improve the customer experience, or optimize service.
Email is an especially important feedback channel because you might be getting it from people that aren’t already customers—potential customers and prospects earlier in the customer journey. So the kind of feedback you receive via email might be qualitatively different from that you receive in other channels.
But to extract value from your feedback, you need a systematic way to integrate the feedback you receive through email into the way you track customer feedback from your other sources.
The challenge: Why it’s hard to track feature requests and product feedback from email
The main challenge for most people is that tracking email feedback is often super manual. If you don’t have a robust customer feedback system, collecting feedback from email might mean a lot of copying and pasting.
For example, if you’re using spreadsheets or Trello to track feature requests and new product feedback, you’d have to copy and paste every email message into a separate row or Trello card. That’s fine if you’re a small startup, but as soon as you have traction and are getting a reasonable amount of feedback, it quickly becomes impractical.
Another problem is that it’s often difficult to send emails to feedback tools. Even if you’re using a purpose-built feature request app to centralize and prioritize your customer feedback, many of them don’t include a feature to simply forward a feedback email to your tool. In fact, very few of even the top customer feedback management tools have this functionality.
Finally, email feedback is often unstructured. When you send a customer feedback survey, ask for net promoter score (NPS), or examine customer reviews, you receive your feedback in a relatively structured way. Even when you’re asking open-ended questions, it usually answers a particular question and is relatively easy to process.
Unsolicited email feedback is usually less structured. Feedback or feature requests may be hidden in other requests or transactional information. It can take a bit more work to turn email feedback into something usable.
So, given these challenges, what’s the best way to track the feedback you get from email?
The best way to track feedback that comes in via email is with Savio
Or, more generally, use a product feedback software tool that lets you simply forward feedback emails into your feedback vault without copying and pasting.
We built Savio to do this easily. A few other tools can do it too, but as I’ve said, this feature is relatively rare among feedback collection tools.
Example: Forward feedback emails to Savio in just a few clicks.
It’s super simple to send feedback emails to Savio.
1. Log in to your Savio account and find your “secret” Savio email address.
2. Forward the email with feedback in it to your “secret” Savio email address.
The email will be sent to your feedback vault where you can triage it, add any additional information, and so on.
What’s handy is that Savio automatically populates information about the feedback, like who gave it, their company, and so on. The subject line gets turned into the title of the feedback while the email body gets put in as the description (you can edit these if you need to).
Read more: Savio alternatives
Other ways to track feedback that comes in via email
If you’re not using a tool that can accommodate a simple click of the “forward” button, that’s okay. Here are some other options.
Using a Browser Extension
The next best option would be to use a customer feedback tool that has a chrome or other web browser extension. This would allow you to easily copy and paste the email into your feedback vault without switching tools.
This works well if you’re on a desktop. It’s not as good if you’re on your mobile.
It still requires a bit of copying and pasting but at least you’re not switching tools.
Link your email with your feedback tool using Zapier
The next best option after that is to try to set up a Zap to your feedback tool using a Zapier integration.
This can be complicated to set up
It may not work with every email client or feedback tool
You likely won’t be able to automatically add information like person and company
You may not be able to easily send follow-up emails when you build a new feature that customers have asked for
Send feedback to a Trello board
Trello was originally developed for project management, so it’s not great for collecting user experience feedback or feature requests.
But lots of early-stage companies do use Trello to collect product feedback, even though it’s not ideal. If that’s you, you might be able to set up an automation in Trello to forward emails to a Trello board.
For example, this powerup can be added to a Trello board to allow it to receive emails as cards. Then you could forward feedback emails to a Trello board as a card.
This method isn’t ideal because:
It’s not easy to centralize from all your feedback sources in Trello
It’s not easy to count votes from Trello cards
It’s not easy to slice and dice your data based on customer or company attributes
It’s not easy to close the loop and follow up with customers
Copying and pasting into your tool or a spreadsheet
This last way is the least ideal way: simply switching tools to copy and paste the email into whatever system you’re using to collect customer feedback.
It’s manual, tedious, and time-consuming
When your teams have to switch tools and manually copy and paste feedback, they’re less likely to be careful to do it
What to do after you get the feedback via email
Great, so you’ve figured out how you’ll get your feedback that comes in via email into your collection tool. Now what?
Respond to the feedback. Thank the person who sent it, gather any clarifying info, and tell them what you’re going to do with it. (Need more direction? Here’s a step-by-step guide including customer feedback email templates).
Review it regularly. Schedule a regular meeting with Product, CS, Customer Support, and any other relevant teams to review feedback. (Check out this advice on running meetings with product teams).
Build your product roadmap. Segment your feedback data and feature requests, prioritize them, and add them to your roadmap.
Build new features. Ideally, you’ll sync your feedback workflow with your development team’s system so that the statuses of feature requests are automatically updated.
Close the loop. When you build a new feature, close the customer feedback loop by telling the customers that requested the feature that you built it. (Here’s a full guide.)
Make another feedback request. Continue the feedback loop by asking for customer satisfaction and product feedback. (Here are some examples of how SaaS companies do that.)
The easier you can collect the feedback via email, the easier it will be to make product decisions based on that feedback.
Savio makes it really easy to capture feature requests and feedback from email.
To see just how easy it is, try Savio for free.Last Updated: 22-10-2022
Kareem is a co-founder at Savio. He's been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001. He likes tea and tea snacks, and dislikes refraining from eating lots of tea snacks.