Well, the encouraging answer is yes!
Collecting and prioritising customer feedback is something that almost any product manager or company founder needs to deal with. Customer suggestions are valuable. These people are using your product and know what pain points they want help solving. They want to tell you about their problems and see that you care.
In this article we’ll look at 4 software options that help you collect and organise feature requests. We’ll look at the pros and cons of each option and point you in the direction of useful resources.
We’ll own up to preferring our own software of course (Feature Upvote). However, we want you to choose us because we are genuinely the best option for you. So we’re not afraid to compare ourselves to our competitors!
Jira is an amazing piece of software. We’ll not dispute that for a second. We use it ourselves for issue tracking. However, when we were looking to find a way to collect and vote on customer feedback ourselves (before we built Feature Upvote) we tried Jira and were frustrated.
It turns out Jira can do many, many things but feature request tracking is not a strong point. If you really want to use Jira for customer feedback tracking (and prioritising) you can though:
- Receive customer feature request
- Create Jira issue on their behalf
- Vote on their behalf
- Receive customer request for same issue (possibly: you can’t quite remember)
- Check feature request is the same
- Get another team member to add extra vote for second customer who wants that feature
- Decide to see what issue is most popular
- See who has voted (if you have the correct permissions)
- Compare number of votes for all feature requests by moving between issues
- Consider creating excel spreadsheet showing issue and number of votes
- Get bored and make tea
The downsides are:
- You can only proxy-vote for customers
- You can only vote once so proxy-voting is difficult
- You can only vote if you are a paid-up team member (Jira charges per person)
- You really need to remember whether a feature has already been added to Jira
- You can’t easily see which issues have the most votes
In fact, there are so many downsides that plenty of Jira customers are looking for a better way of organising customer feedback. Like this person:
The answer to this question from Jira community champion Nic Brough was:
It is possible to set up a project with a permission scheme that says “create issue: anyone”. The problem with doing this is that you won’t know who they are, and that if you expose your Jira to the internet, you’re going to get spam.
You can’t make your boards public, only projects. Anonymous users will be able to create and comment on issues if you grant the “anyone” permission in the project. They’ll be able to search like everyone else, and only see issues in projects with “Browse project: anyone”. Voting won’t work, it relies on knowing that an individual has voted, so they have to log in.
On the whole, Jira is better for tracking feedback from your team, although still a bit cumbersome (it’s still hard to see how many votes issues have at a glance; and you risk issue repetition from team members who haven’t noticed that someone else has pitched the same idea).
In short if you love Jira (like we do) but want a really easy way to track, manage and prioritise feedback (public or private) then try Feature Upvote, with Jira integration as standard.
We use Trello for many situations: tracking periodic tasks, managing shared workflows, deciding what Christmas presents to get for all the family. It’s a very flexible and easy to use bit of software. Plus for basic use it is free for unlimited users. Nice!
Trello also helps you collect and manage customer requests in these two ways:
Create a private customer feedback board
- Invite team members who receive customer feature requests to contribute to the board
- Set up board with various categories: all feature requests, high priority, medium priority, forget about it, and so on
- Encourage everyone to create cards in a consistent manner otherwise the board becomes a mess
- Consider setting up another board for power users/high value customers/enterprise customers so you can easily see what they need
- Navigate between the two boards
Roadmap voting with Trello
Create a public customer feedback board
- Make Trello board public
- Create categories that make sense to customers (up next, under review, done, and so on)
- Enable voting
- Encourage customers to vote and leave comments (if they have a Trello account)
- Allow customers to submit cards directly (although this might become messy, spammy and only works on web broswers)
You can probably tell that we’re not too sold on the public customer feedback board, although the private board is decent if you’re happy with proxy voting. After all, Trello is basically a great tool, and they do have a generous free plan.
However, Trello isn’t specifically set up to deal with customer (and team) feedback and this is apparent. It can feel like a bit of a workaround. So we’ll continue to use Trello for many jobs but managing and prioritising team and customer feedback won’t be one of them.
For more information on how to use Trello to manage customer requests see their article on the subject.
To read why we love Trello for executing an already planned strategy and Feature Upvote for consolidating and prioritising feedback read our blog article.
UserVoice is the Goliath to our David; the elephant to our antelope; the supersized coffee cup to our regular. In short, it is large, has been around for ages (est. 2006) and is crammed full of functionality. It also has two distinct offerings: a help desk and a customer feedback product.
So, if you want to use UserVoice to track and prioritise customer feedback then you most certainly can. Many people do. To hear direct from the elephant’s mouth you can always visit their website. Or try them for free, although you’ll need to sit through a sales call first.
Advantages of UserVoice:
- Established and feature-rich (and nobody ever got fired for buying IBM; although I don’t know if they got promoted either)
- Different products so you can potentially solve multiple problems
- Deals with enterprise companies so experienced with their requirements
- Extra cost for simple things like your own custom domain. Last we heard, it was an additional $70/month to add a custom domain
- Some people think the user interface isn’t great (UserVoice was created before responsive design took off)
- Expensive, particularly if you just want to collect and manage customer feedback
You need to fill in this form to request a trial of UserVoice
UserVoice seems to be a hit with bigger companies and people that want a help desk and customer feedback tool in one. For smaller and medium sized companies that want a simpler (and much cheaper) way to track and quantify feedback, particularly if they have mobile-first customers, then it can be a bit disappointing.
After trying and failing to find a simple way to manage and prioritise customer feedback for one of our other products, we decided to build our own solution. Which is how Feature Upvote came to exist. From the start, we had certain key aims:
- All features and integrations included as standard
- Friendly and transparent about what we do (no sales call or hidden pricing)
- Value for money so a good choice for smaller and medium sized companies
- Simple user interface and no login required for people giving feedback
- Not just for English speakers – feedback boards are available in 8+ languages
- Works as well on mobile as desktop or tablet
- Quality help articles because outdated or hard to understand help articles are SO ANNOYING
Sitebulb is a desktop website crawler. This is their customer feedback board, provided by Feature Upvote.
Interestingly, we started out marketing Feature Upvote as a simple and effective way to collect and organise customer feedback, but have found that a significant minority of customers, usually product managers, use our boards to collect feedback from their teams. So they make their boards private (we have SSO). Good to know!
In terms of disadvantages, we’ll hold our hands up to the following:
- We’re a small team so we can’t offer you phone support or ‘always within 30 minutes’ email responses
- We plan to keep Feature Upvote simple and easy to use so if you need a raft of features then UserVoice are a better bet
- We provide a feedback board so if you need a help desk as well then we’re not a good bet
- We’re probably a harder sell to management who haven’t heard of us (although we hope our competitive pricing might help!)
- We can’t help you plan Christmas (try Trello for that, or even Jira)
How to choose software to help you track and quantify customer feedback
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my budget? What is the price of the software, including all features I need?
- Do I need something that is built exactly for the job or can I deal with a workaround?
- Am I happy with proxy voting or do I want customers to directly suggest feedback and vote?
- Do I need telephone support or a company that my CEO has heard of?
Once you’ve got your answers then it should become clear which software option is for you. We hope you choose us (or try us out at least) but we understand if you don’t. No software as a service (SaaS) company is a great fit for everyone. We particularly appeal to small to medium sized companies who want to hear from their customers, as well as to product managers who want a simple way to gather internal feedback through a private feedback board.
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
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