Track Feature Requests Better — Tips for Upping your Game

Congratulations—you’re getting product feature requests. 

Hopefully, you’ve set up an easy, leak-proof system to capture them. (If not, check out our full guide on how to track feature requests and set up a process that works). 

Now, how do you optimize that? 

How do you make sure you’re working with your customer feedback most efficiently?

We’ve spoken to hundreds of product managers and leaders and customer success managers at companies like Slack, Drift, Zapier, and GoDaddy. 

We know that most companies don’t actually do feature request tracking well. (If you’re using spreadsheets or Trello boards, this might be you!)

I’ve been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001, and my co-founder and I built Savio for SaaS teams to track and organize product feedback from multiple tools in one place. 

So I’ve got a good sense of what actually works when it comes to tracking product feedback. 

Here are my best tips. 

Note: Savio is a feedback tracking tool that makes it easy to track product feedback, prioritize requests, and build customer-centric software. Try it for free. 

1. Take every opportunity to ask for product feedback and feature requests

If you have users, you’ll get product feedback. You’ll get it even if you don’t ask for it. 

But do ask for it. 

When it comes to feedback, more is more. You want to get your hands on as much of it as possible. And while most of your users will have feedback, many won’t share it with you unless they’re explicitly invited to and it’s easy to do. 

So make sure you ask for feedback. You can ask for feedback at every stage of the customer journey—during their evaluation of your product, during the trial, at conversion, while they’re using your product, and even when they cancel their subscription. 

Need inspiration? Here are 51+ examples of how real SaaS companies ask for feedback at every stage. 

2. Centralize it in one place

So now you’re getting product feedback and feature requests. Make sure you centralize it in one place. 

Centralizing it allows you to see it all at once and glean insights about what you should build next. 

The best way to centralize it is with a purpose-built feature request app. You can use spreadsheets or Google docs, but that’s usually clunky, super manual, and you often end up being unable to really understand what your customers want. You’re probably better off going for a free feature request tracking app than using spreadsheets. 

Whatever you use as your central feedback collection spot, make sure it can accommodate all your sources of feedback. Common feedback sources include:

  • Your customer support tool, like Intercom, Help Scout, and Zendesk

  • Your CRM, like Salesforce or HubSpot

  • Email

  • Social media

  • Slack

  • Customer calls

3. Make it easy for your teams to collect

Not only does your central feedback collection spot need to be able to receive feedback from all your sources, but it also needs to be easy for your customer-facing teams. Ideally, they should be able to send feedback to your central location without even switching tools. 

Here’s why. While collecting and using feedback ultimately leads to a better product, which indirectly helps every team, managing feedback doesn’t directly help every customer-facing team. 

For example, it’s not going to directly contribute to your Sales team members’ goals. Nor is it immediately useful to the person handling your social media. 

Since it’s not going to directly contribute to their success in their role, they’re not going to be highly motivated to handle feedback. If it’s also difficult to do—if they need to spend a lot of time copying, switching tools, pasting, etc—feedback might fall through the cracks. 

Instead, make it easy. Build a robust customer feedback system that connects to the tools your customer-facing teams are already using. 

Savio does that by being extremely flexible:

Whatever tool you choose to use, make it easy for all customer-facing teams to use. Their work will be more efficient, and your feedback data will be more complete and useful.

4. Communicate with Product in a way that they will listen

“CS and Product are often either the worst friends or the best enemies.”

That’s how one Google Customer Success leader characterized the relationship between CS and Product. 

It’s probably too strong to describe most teams, but that sentiment is often there. Product management and CS teams have different goals, and that can put them at odds with each other. 

But both should own the product roadmap

The trick is for CS to share feedback with the Product team in a way that they will listen to. That can mean:

  • Providing hard data rather than just anecdotes

  • Framing customer feedback as user stories

  • Sharing feedback on a regular cadence, rather than ad-hoc

Customer Success talks to customers all day—they’re the experts on the needs of customers. Product leaders have different perspectives and considerations. 

CS can be more effective at getting customer feedback to influence the product roadmap if they communicate feedback in a way that’s most useful for Product.

5. Don't unintentionally bias your data

Many companies collect product ideas with feature voting tools that primarily consist of a public voting board or forum. The idea is that customers can add their feature requests to the board or upvote the requested features already in the ideas backlog.

There are several reasons not to collect feedback with a public voting board. A few of them are that:

  • They’re not always customer-friendly

  • They are a goldmine for your competitors

  • They can favor “squeaky wheel” customers

  • It’s hard to decline to build a feature on a public page

  • Your customers can see when requests haven’t been built and for how long they’ve been deprioritized

But one of the biggest challenges with public voting boards has to do with the way that people vote. We’d like to think people are perfectly accurate in describing the problems they have. But actually, they can be influenced by irrelevant factors. 

For example, people tend to vote for features that are already more popular. Features that have higher vote counts attract people, and they’re more likely to consider that feature useful and vote for it. So vote counts can bias customer feedback.

Another influencing factor is the order of feature requests. People tend to start at the top of the list and work their way down. But they often won’t make it to the end of a long list. The features at the top of the list are more likely to be considered and upvoted. So order can bias feedback, too.

The solution is configuring your voting board to remove these sources of bias. We suggest:

  • Hiding vote counts

  • Randomizing the order of features

Those actions won’t necessarily remove all of the problems with public voting boards, but at least they will help to reduce potential bias. (Not all voting boards have the functionality to do those things, but Savio’s can.)

6. Ask for clarification when you need it

Not all user feedback will come to you perfectly formulated and ready for implementing. You will likely get requests that are vague or unclear. You can also get requests for a feature that may not be the best way to solve a customer’s particular problem. 

When in doubt, get clarification on what the customer needs. You can do that with an email, or even with a quick call. Here are some tips:

  • Keep the email short

  • Promise to keep any potential meeting short

  • If possible, make it clear why they’d benefit from the call—and even consider offering a gift card or something to make it worth their while

Here’s a quick example:

“Hey there,

You left us a feature request and I wanted to follow up so I can better understand how we can build the feature so it’s useful to you. 

Can I ask for some more detail about the problem you’re trying to solve? What do you need this new feature to help you do? 

With a better understanding of your problem, we can make sure that the feature does what you need it to. 

Thanks!

Ps. If you prefer, I’d be happy to schedule a quick 15m call.”

7. Say "no" politely

Sometimes you know you’re not going to build a feature. If that’s the case, you should tell the customer.

Of course, first, you should make sure you understand the request (see the previous section). It could be that with clarification of the user’s problem, you might actually consider building a feature that solves it. 

But let’s imagine they’re asking for something you know you’re not going to build. In that case, be upfront with them. 

Here are some tips on saying “No” to a feature request. 

  • Describe what you understand that they are looking for

  • Be clear that you’re not planning to build it 

  • Describe how your company decides which features to build

  • Provide a reason why you chose not to build the feature they requested

  • Give a workaround if possible

  • Thank them for providing the feedback in the first place and explain how valuable it is to you

Here’s an example template for saying “no”:

Hi there,

Thank you very much for taking the time to send your request. Feedback is a critical piece in how we decide on how to improve our software, so we’re grateful you took the time to share your problem and needs.

You asked for an integration with Groove customer service software. We make our product roadmap decisions in such a way that we maximize our impact for our customers. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough other people using Groove to justify our investment in that feature just yet. So it’s unlikely we’re going to be able to build it in the near future. 

As a workaround, you can connect our app to Groove through Zapier (here are some instructions on setting up the Zapier integration). Alternatively, you can use our Chrome extension to connect to any web app. 

I hope that’s helpful! And thanks again for making the request—they are a critical part of how we build our software. 

Cheers,

8. Add customer and company attributes

You’re collecting feedback because it is data that tells you what your customers want and will buy. 

Like any data, the better you can slice and dice your feedback, the better insights you can gain, and the better decisions you can make. 

Most people pick features in part based on what’s most popular. They look at overall feature upvotes. 

That’s great, but it’s not always the best way to decide what the highest-impact features are. 

For example, imagine 100 customers want feature A and only 20 want feature B. You might be tempted to build feature A. But what if those hundred customers who want feature A were all on your free plan, and the 20 that wanted feature B were all enterprise customers? You might instead prefer to build feature B. 

To be able to get those kinds of insights, you need to collect attributes about your customers and companies and then attach those to your feature requests. 

These are things like customer MRR, plan, place in the customer journey, and any other information that matters to you. That way, you can sort, filter, and count feature requests by characteristics to find out what matters most to you. 

Here are some common ways companies prioritize their feedback to build the highest-impact features using customer attributes:

  • Choosing features with the highest cumulative MRR

  • Choosing features most popular among customers on a particular plan

  • Choosing features requested by churned customers

  • Choosing features requested in lost deals

  • Choosing features that are high priority and low effort

Make sure your feature request tracking tool can slice and dice your feedback data. (Hint: Savio can.)

9. Track feature requests through your development process

Most teams track new feature requests outside of their product development team tool. (You can track feature requests in a tool like Jira, but we don’t recommend it.)

The problem is that communication from Dev isn’t always quick. You need a way to follow the feature through the development workflow so you can update your public roadmap and changelog, close the loop, write your knowledge base articles, and so on. 

To keep your feature request database up-to-date, it’s best to sync it to your Dev tool. That way, when your development team builds a feature, it can update automatically in your customer feedback app, too. 

Savio lets you do that through native integrations with Jira and Shortcut. If you use other feedback management tools, look for ways to automate the syncing between the tools you’re using. 

10. Close the feedback loop

Closing the loop is telling your customers when you build a feature they asked for. It’s powerful because it shows you listened to them and used their feedback to inform a product decision. Closing the loop gives you credit for doing something customer-centric.

Make closing the loop part of your workflow to handle customer feature requests

If you’re a smaller startup, or you receive little feedback, you can get away with doing this manually by copying and pasting email addresses from people that made a request. If you have a more mature system, you’ll benefit from a tool that can automate this system. 

(Hint: Savio lets you close the loop in just a few clicks). 

Here’s what you close the loop message can look like, 

Better feature request management = better products

Tracking user feedback and feature requests is the best way to build products people want to buy. 

Our advice—based on decades of experience as product leaders—is to automate this process as much as you can, and make it leakproof. 

That’s what Savio helps you do. The idea is to focus less on your feedback process so you can focus more on understanding the feedback itself and building better products. 

Want to see Savio in action? Try it for free.

Last Updated: 04-10-2022

Kareem Mayan

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.

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Contents

Start Tracking Feature Requests Today

  • Centralize product feedback from your voting board, Help Scout, Intercom, Zendesk, HubSpot, Slack, or any other tool with Zapier or our Chrome Extension
  • Prioritize feature requests by number of votes or total MRR, or for specific customer segments (like all customers on the "Pro" plan)
  • Share customer verbatims with your product and dev teams
  • Track Feature Request status as your dev team works on them
  • And close the loop with customers

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