Every company gets feature requests from customers. Sometimes the customer is one of many. Sometimes they are one of three, and you feel compelled to keep them happy.
Whatever the situation, feature requests can often feel like a problem.
They show you a customer isn’t happy. They potentially involve a lot of work. They are often scattered across many channels, with some getting lost. Many aren’t feasible or compatible with the vision of your company.
However, collecting and prioritising feature requests from your customers will help you build a product roadmap based on customer need rather than guesswork. Such a roadmap is much more likely to lead to happy customers and growth.
A customer suggestion for our product Feature Upvote
You’re likely to have feature requests coming in from all over the place: the majority from customer support, but also from social media, your sales and marketing team, even from chatbots and comment areas on your website.
To keep track of these, regularly collect feature requests in one organised place.
If you’re a small and financially-challenged startup, a Google sheet or Notion page could work. Trello also has a free plan, but can feel a bit cumbersome, while Jira struggles to track voting (and can be quite complex as well). Both Trello and Jira can be used for feature request tracking though, as we explore in Is there software to collect and organise feature requests?.
This ‘do it yourself’ solution is only as good as your dedication and process. You need to regularly move feature requests to your Google sheet or Notion page and add a vote for duplicate suggestions rather than repeating them.
Try setting aside a time slot every day when you deal with feature requests, and encourage other team members to do the same. Make sure that if the document is collaborative, that everyone understands how to use it.
The main disadvantage with this ‘do it yourself’ approach is that you and your team can get overwhelmed very quickly. Even small companies can generate a large number of feature requests. However, regularly ignoring feature requests can lead to missed business opportunities and annoyed customers.
If this ‘overwhelmed’ scenario is familiar, then try out purpose-built feature request tracking software instead. The advantage of this type of software is:
Here is a screenshot of a feature request tracking board (powered by Feature Upvote).
If you’re a customer are you happy with the following situation?
The problem here, is that you don’t know what is going on. Will they build the feature? What are they planning at the moment? Do they even care about what customers have to say?
To counter the opaqueness of this approach, consider being more open about what you do with customer feature requests, and even what you are planning to build.
If you don’t want to show customers your feature request document, if you have one, then at least reply to feature requests with a bit of detail:
Thank you for your suggestion. We add all feature requests to our feature request document, using a voting system to track duplicates. Every month we then consider the top 3 suggestions, based on whether they are feasible and fit in with our vision for the company. We’ll be in touch if we plan to implement your suggestion. Please do contact us again if you have any more suggestions. We love receiving customer feedback and it directly informs our product roadmap.
If you use feature request tracking software, then customers can instantly see that you care about their feedback. By adding tags saying ‘under consideration,’ ‘done,’ ‘not planned,’ and so on, you can show customers that you are actively working on suggested features. Also, diplomatically, you can show what you don’t plan to work on. Any customer who has added a suggestion that is now in progress will be automatically emailed (if they permit this) to say that their suggestion has been completed.
Also, if you’ve kept track of which customers requested a certain feature, you can give this group beta access before you push it out to everyone. This is a useful way to spot bugs and potential user experience problems.
A word of warning though: If you publicly organise feature requests but never implement any of them, or moderate the requests, you’ll give the appearance of an abandoned product. If you’re concerned about customers seeing what you’re working on (or not working on!) you can make your feature request board private through Single Sign-on or a password.
Some customers are more important than others, for financial or strategic reasons.
As well as keeping track of what a particular customer suggests, consider using tags to highlight useful information about that customer.
For example, the requests you get from customers on their trial period are often sales blockers. Tag or mark these issues as sales blockers and consider giving them more weight when you’re thinking about your product roadmap.
Or if you’re exploring a new customer segment, tag requests coming from these customers (#teachers) to help identify whether you’re achieving product/market fit for this customer segment.
If you’re using a ‘do it yourself’ approach, you can manually add tags, or a tags category, to your feature request document.
If you’re using feature request tracking software, then you should be able to add custom tags to suggestions.
We provide feature request software (with voting) that has all the functionality you need at a competitive price.
We offer a 30 day free trial so you can see if we’re a good match for your company.
Competing products are much more complex and much more expensive. For the functionality we’re looking for - a simple feedback community - the features we get are actually better than I expected and at a price that we can afford.
— Heather Paunet, Untangle’s VP of Product Management