The Role of Customer Success Teams in Logging Customer Feedback, Product Roadmapping, and Closing the Loop
Your Customer Success team is critical to an effective feedback management process.
Building a customer feedback management system?
Don’t forget to include your customer success team—they’re critical.
Specifically, they can play three critical roles in your feedback management system: collecting feedback, supporting roadmapping, and closing the loop.
Here’s how to successfully build your CS team into your feedback workflow.
Reasons Customer Success team should be involved in product feedback
There’s a trend for Customer Success teams to own more of the roadmap, and that’s a good thing:
They know the customer. Customer Success talks to current customers all day—they really get the voice of the customer. Their expertise in customer needs and face-to-face contact puts them in a powerful position for collecting first-hand feedback.
Contact with churned customers. CS is the primary team to interact with a particularly useful audience: churned customers. Understanding why these customers stopped paying for your product is vital to making it better.
Retention = profits. Company leaders increasingly recognize that CS is a profit centre rather than a cost centre. CS needs to have some influence over roadmap decisions to effectively reduce churn.
Better data. CS teams often have access to reams of customer data beyond just feedback. Often, MRR, plan, demographics, and more are kept in their support tools. Include CS in your system to enrich your feedback with customer data and you’ll be able to prioritize features more effectively.
Fundamentally, a net negative revenue churn is the way that SaaS companies grow. The best way to retain—and acquire—customers is to be customer-centric and build what they tell you they need.
Customer success knows what your customers need, and that’s why they need to play a central role in your feedback system.
Here are three ways they can do that.
Role 1: Customer Success can log product feedback and feature requests
First, CS should systematically collect the feedback they get and have a process to send it to Product teams.
CS talks to customers all day—they already hear feedback. The trick is to systematize it and track it in a central repository. Here are the kinds of feedback that are especially useful to track:
The jobs customers are trying to do with the software
Feedback about how the customers are using the product
Product features that customers want and churned customers were missing
Feedback about pricing
Content feedback—marketing content that customers would benefit from
Understanding how to keep customers happy helps you change your product to increase retention.
Tip: Customer success teams have to think about how best to present feedback to Product so that it will be useful to them. Read our guide: How CS can Share Customer Feedback so that Product Actually Listens
How can your CS team gather that valuable feedback? Here are 8 options.
1. Feedback surveys
Surveys can provide extremely valuable quantitative data that help you understand how your customers feel about your product.
Net promoter score (NPS) is one of the most popular metrics in the industry for evaluating customer satisfaction. NPS surveys give you a single score to gauge your customers’ overall experience and whether they’re responding to your product. It also helpfully categorizes your customers into promoters, detractors, and passives, which you can use to inform how your CS team engages.
That’s just one type of survey—there are many others you can use, like customer satisfaction surveys (CSATs) and customer effort scores (CES). Asking the right open-ended questions can also elicit valuable qualitative feedback, too.
How to centralize it: Paste survey results into your feedback spreadsheet. Or, submit survey responses to Savio by uploading a CSV or using Zapier (for example, here’s how to send Typeform responses to Savio).
2. Customer calls
Your CS team might reach out to customers directly—to do account reviews or to conduct exploratory customer interviews.
Customer calls are valuable because they can elicit feedback you otherwise might not hear. You can obtain rich customer stories that provide nuance to the quantitative feedback you might get from surveys. They also give you a chance to directly address any problems customers might have.
How to centralize it: You can take notes in a Google doc and link to it in a Spreadsheet or Trello card. Or, send it to an enterprise feedback management (EFM) software tool, like Savio, through a Chrome extension.
3. Live chats
Use a customer success tool like Intercom, Help Scout, or Zendesk? Then you probably receive feature requests and feedback there.
Make the best use of it by collecting survey feedback using that tool, or getting your customer success managers to ask for product feedback directly.
How to centralize it: Use an integration. That way, they can log feedback painlessly and without switching tools.
You can send Intercom messages with user feedback or feature requests to Savio by simply adding a tag.
4. Customer emails
No matter how much they try to convince us, email isn’t dead. Indeed, it’s one of the most important tools for customer success teams—and for gathering feedback.
Email offers a direct channel by which to solicit feedback from customers. To go to the next level, set up trigger emails after certain events to automate feedback. For example:
After a free trial user doesn’t meet a critical onboarding milestone, ask why
After a user chooses to cancel a subscription, ask them about their decision and what they would have liked to see
After a user chooses not to use a feature, ask them what they thought of the feature and why they didn’t adopt it
How to centralize it: When you receive feedback through email, copy and paste it into your feedback organization tool. Or, forward it directly into your Savio feedback vault (Savio will automatically structure it and enrich it with your customer data).
Read more: How to track feedback from email
Slack is a common source of feedback from internal teams. And, since Slack Connect launched, it’s also increasingly used to communicate directly with customers.
How to centralize it: You can create a dedicated feedback channel, or you can copy and paste feedback from Slack into your feedback tool. If you use Savio, you can send feedback directly from Slack messages with a single click.
Read more: How to gather feedback from Slack
Slack is a common source of product feedback. You can send it to your Savio feedback vault with a single click.
6. Customer feedback session focus group
Want to get a little more advanced? Set up a focus group to ask your customers directly what they think of your product.
The magic of focus groups is that participants play off each other's ideas to generate ideas they might not have alone. On the other hand, one person’s feedback could bias another’s. Focus groups are also quite resource-intensive.
How to centralize it: Take notes. Later, copy and paste those notes into your product feedback software. You can also use Savio’s Chrome extension to send it directly into your Savio feedback vault.
7. Social media
You’re probably not going to ask for feedback on Social media, but your customers might give it anyway.
Twitter is a gold mine for customer product feedback.
Often it’s marketing teams that end up seeing and collecting feedback, but it could also fall to your customer success managers.
How to centralize it: Copy and paste user feedback from social media into Savio’s Chrome extension and send it to your vault.
8. Voting boards
Public feature voting boards are another popular way to collect product feedback.
They’re not without their disadvantages. For example, they might bias your feedback (customers tend to vote for what’s popular and what’s first on the list). They can also over-emphasize feedback from your “squeaky wheel” customers.
Still, voting boards can be valuable as a dedicated spot where your customers can submit feedback and feature requests.
How to centralize it: Set up a feature voting board or idea portal.
Role 2: Product Roadmapping from Customer Success
After collecting feedback and feature requests, the next role for CS is to help prioritize and build the product roadmap.
We’ve been on the phone with dozens of CS teams in the past few years, and we’ve seen a clear trend for Success teams to be more involved in product roadmapping processes. We’ve heard that some CS teams own up to 80% of the roadmap.
Superhuman is one example of this, spending up to 50% of their dev budget building features their customers have requested (the other half is spent on strategic features).
Why should CS help define Product strategy?
There are several good reasons:
The key to SaaS growth is net negative revenue churn, which is driven as much by retention as by acquiring new customers
To retain and expand, you need to solve your customers’ problems and build what they need
Customer Success is the team that best understands what their customers need—they hear it constantly
Customer Success usually owns renewals and expansion, so CS should also have some input into creating a product that helps them achieve their goals
How to include CS in product roadmapping?
Here are some practical strategies you can use to increase the extent to which CS is involved in roadmapping.
Include CS in Product meetings. For example, the Proposify team told us they host a monthly meeting called “The 5 Product Improvements You Need” that brings together Product, User Research, Customer Success, and executive leaders. CS teams can use these to share the trends in feedback and give data on which features are most requested.
Create space in the dev budget. For example, Kustomer told us that the PM team sets aside a certain amount of time per sprint to work on the most important features identified by their Customer Experience team.
Get hard data. Customer Success will be more effective at influencing the roadmap if they have the tools to collect persuasive feedback data (not just anecdotes). That means creating a system that CS can use that collects and aggregates concrete feedback data.
Tie features to revenue. One specific type of data is especially compelling: revenue. Consider adding up the MRR for each customer that wants a feature. That’s your cumulative MRR. You can use that in your prioritization framework to consistently prioritize features that will have the biggest impact on revenue.
Collect user stories. Concrete data is important, but so are user stories. User stories tell Product teams what problem a user is having so that they can come up with the best solution. CS and CX teams can collect and share user stories with Product to have more influence on the roadmap.
Create internal structures to advocate for customers. For example, a CS leader from Valuize suggested creating a Customer Advisory Board that is in charge of advocating the needs of customers and giving feature requests more weight to Product.
Role 3: Closing the customer feedback loop from Customer Success
The last role of Customer Success teams in customer feedback systems is to close the loop.
Closing the feedback loop means sending a follow-up with customers when you act on their feedback. Closing the loop doesn’t mean publishing a changelog entry or a blog post.
It means sending a personalized message. For example, when you build a new feature, send an email to everyone that asked for that feature to let them know.
Closing the loop is important because it increases customer loyalty, which increases retention and boosts churn. It can even help you expand accounts, and increase revenue.
Here’s an example email you can send to your Customer Success teams so they can reach out to churned customers that wanted a feature your team built.
What is customer feedback?
Customer feedback is the input you get about your product, service, and brand. It can be from current customers, prospects, or churned customers.
Customer feedback can be broken down into categories: feedback about your product (product feedback), about your pricing, about your customer service, about your marketing content (content feedback), and more
Is customer feedback really so important?
Ya, it’s a big deal.
Knowing what your customers like, don’t like, and want helps you make the changes that keep them satisfied. It can also help you develop new products.
Other benefits include of collecting feedback include:
It can help you increase customer satisfaction ratings
It can help you design new features so that they meet your customers' needs
It can help you better position your products in comparison to your competitors
It can help you prioritize your dev resources and avoid wasting money on features you don’t need
What product management tools should I use to collect feedback from Customer Success?
There are a number of ways you can organize your feedback system. Most companies still use spreadsheets, Trello, or dev tools like Jira, but those are all super manual options. Manual options waste time and create friction (which can stop your teams from submitting feedback).
We think the best option is a purpose-built option like (surprise!) Savio.
Savio is handy because it connects with your CS tools so your CS teams don’t need to task-switch.
Savio is the best option (in my opinion) but there are other product feedback software tools, too.
Who else needs to be involved in collecting customer feedback?
All customer-facing teams should be part of your feedback system. Making it a collective effort shared by all your customer-facing teams helps ensure you understand the voice of your customers at every stage in the customer journey.
Here are the teams that I suggest you involve:
Product managers. Typically, Product teams build and manage the customer feedback system. They also use the feedback data to prioritize new features.
Sales teams. Sales teams collect feedback from prospects and lost deals. They also often participate in roadmapping and close the feedback loop with leads.
Customer support. Your Helpdesk should also collects feedback. They may also be responsible for closing the loop with some customers.
Marketing teams. Marketers may be responsible for collecting data from social media or from online reviews. They can also use feedback to sharpen their positioning or copy. And recently, marketers have even begun using content feedback to drive their content strategies.
How should CS respond to feedback?
Good question—check out our guide for detailed suggestions about responding to both positive feedback and to unhappy customers.
Customer Success: Track product feedback to create evidence-based roadmaps
Your Customer Success teams play a special role in your customer feedback process in part because they’re motivated to: their success at reducing churn requires that your product is good. It’s their job to advocate for what the customer want.
They’ll be most successful when they are able to easily and quickly log the feedback they hear and aggregate it into a compelling set of data and user stories.
Make their job easier by ditching spreadsheets and getting a purpose-built feedback tool.
Note: Savio makes it easy for your Customer Success team to send the feedback they get to Product. And, it connects to your Customer Support so that you can pull in customer data to prioritize features more effectively.
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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