If you’re just focusing on external customer feedback, you’re making a big mistake.
At least that’s what AtScale’s Dave Mariani says. In fact, internal product feedback is just as important to product success as external feedback—you need both to develop a full, accurate picture of what’s truly happening with your product.
Internal product feedback—the information your company’s customer-facing employees gather about what’s going on in the field—is invaluable. From Sales and Support to Marketing, your front-line colleagues can dive deeper into customer conversations, gathering unique and specific insights that are more difficult to glean from broad surveys. This on-the-ground customer intelligence helps you make more strategic decisions about where to invest in your product.
Additionally, your peers bring their own useful input to the table. As Mariani notes, “internal team members know the product better than anyone, and they know that if they encounter an issue or have a poor user experience, a customer will as well.”
You need a way to capture that valuable feedback and put it to use.
To be able to act on feedback and create a better customer experience, you need a clear, organized process in place to objectively evaluate internal requests. Otherwise, you’ll drown in a sea of scattered feedback and miss opportunities for product improvement that could lead to more revenue. Continuous dialogue, defined best practices for providing feedback, and a product feedback management tool will set you up for success.
Everyone who shares internal product feedback with you will probably see their input as a top priority. However, not all requests carry the same weight and not all requests should be acted on. The simplest way to avoid hurt feelings or wasting your colleagues’ time is to clearly communicate what type of feedback is the most valuable—and why.
Create and share an internal-facing product roadmap that clearly connects your product development plans to the company’s values, mission, and product mission statements. This overarching framework brings everyone on the same page and helps shift the focus from simply meeting department goals to meeting enterprise goals.
Then, summarize what feedback topics you are and aren’t looking for, connecting back to those values. For example, you might prioritize input on your mobile checkout because it ties back to the company’s goal of increasing revenue. However, if you’re lacking customer service personnel, you might want to hold off on implementing a new live chat feature. This transparency is critical to getting your internal stakeholders to seek and give the most targeted and helpful feedback they can. The power of teamwork!
The most critical rule of collecting internal feedback is to only consider documented input. Otherwise, you open the door to feedback getting lost. It’s tough to effectively keep track of one-off comments and conversations where coworkers vaguely mention something a customer told them.
Once you’ve established that feedback must come in writing, you need guidelines for your peers to follow. The goal is to get specifics. This makes it much easier to extract recurring patterns and themes from internal feedback. It also reduces time spent in emails trying to figure out what your colleague actually meant by “lots of people are saying you need to fix the Salesforce integration.”
The easiest way to keep feedback straight is to offer category labels for your coworkers to use. This way, you can visually see where most of their feedback is concentrated (e.g., current features vs. ideas for new features). It’s also helpful if they include the submission date.
Besides the above factors and a brief explanation of the feedback, ask internal stakeholders to include the following metrics in their submissions, if available:
Keeping track of submitted internal product feedback through disorganized emails, Slack DMs, online forms, spreadsheets, or paper notes (or all of the above) is a logistical nightmare. Just take it from Nathalie Jard, Product Manager at B2B software company Sharegate. Jard’s former company used to collect internal feedback in a spreadsheet with conversation tagging, which she described as “just a mess.”
To get rid of the mess, Jard switched to a feedback management tool. It saved her and everyone else stress and time. A feedback management tool acts as an integrated central hub where you can collect, analyze, and follow up on internal feedback. This platform gives you a clear, bird’s-eye view of all your feedback and reduces the likelihood of submissions falling through the cracks.
You can also easily dig into granular feedback segments with a few clicks of a button instead of manually trying to group like ideas together to pull out patterns. This makes it easy to objectively determine which feature requests need the most attention. For example, you can clearly see that you have 20 submissions about wanting a new Outlook integration but only two submissions about wanting a Yahoo integration. This segmentation is a lot harder to do in a spreadsheet.
This type of software also increases transparency with your colleagues. Customer-facing teams can easily check the status of their submissions, and you can send follow-up emails right within the platform. A feedback management hub also lets you store and update your product roadmap in real time, so no one is left in the dark about product decisions.
To make the most of internal feedback, hold bi-monthly meetings that bring the customer-facing and product teams together to discuss recurring topics that’ve emerged. When these high-level insights remain siloed with the product team, there’s a ton of missed enterprise business value.
By hosting a forum to share and discuss trends in the feedback, members across the organization will grow more in tune with the latest market themes and how they connect to product strategy. In turn, they can better tailor department strategies to meet the needs of the consumer base and the business. For example, instead of just promoting the general product on social media, Marketing can specifically showcase or ask users for their thoughts on certain features.
These meetings also give you the opportunity to ask questions and express appreciation to your colleagues for taking the time to submit feedback and meet with the product team. It seems like a small act, but saying “thank you” and showing that you value your peers’ efforts can boost morale and make for smoother working relationships.
Outside of bimonthly meetings, it’s critical to keep the feedback conversation going. Without regular communication, customer-facing teams may feel unheard by product teams, which tend to operate on monthly or quarterly cycles. The last thing you want is for your peers to feel like their feedback goes nowhere—if that’s the case, they’re likely to stop giving it.
Send out monthly reminders to your peers highlighting what feedback topics you’re looking for, and be sure to follow up with colleagues on their individual feedback. You don’t need to immediately decide if and how their input will be used, but you should at least confirm that your team is reviewing their submission and will follow up with questions. Then, if you make a decision to act on feedback, reach back out to them and explain the proposed course of action.
Besides eliminating communication gaps with your customer-facing teams, you also need to close the feedback loop with your users. A closed-loop customer feedback process will drive user loyalty, turning average users into passionate product advocates. These conversations also ensure you have a steady stream of valuable customer insights coming into your organization.
Ideally, the internal feedback you solicit should align with your stage in the product development lifecycle. The closer the match, the easier and quicker it will be to turn insights into actions that benefit users.
Internal product feedback is a game-changer for customer satisfaction, and it can help you attract new users. With a strategic approach to managing this input, you’ll be able to deliver better results to users and create better working relationships with your customer-facing teams. Win-win.
Make the most of internal feedback with UserVoice Discovery. Our feedback management platform seamlessly integrates with web-based apps, allowing your coworkers to deliver feedback in seconds. Then, you can quickly sort and analyze feedback by user and account segments to identify product gaps and decide what to prioritize. Try our free demo to see how UserVoice seamlessly transforms feedback collection and product improvement.