How to Prioritize Customer Needs and Stay Within Budget
When you’re faced with a lot of customer feedback, it’s difficult to know which product changes you should tackle first—any product changes you make will have an impact on your growth and overall success. In fact, fast-growing, successful SaaS companies tend to prioritize their customers’ needs (earning high retention rates as a result).
When time and budget are limited, focusing on feedback that falls under one of two areas will help you make strategic decisions that retain your existing users and support product growth: changes that address urgent issues and those that support your value proposition.
Then you can prioritize customer feedback requests in a way that aligns with and supports your overall product strategy.
What Is Customer Feedback, and Why Is It Important?
Customer feedback is the information your customers provide describing their opinions, reactions, and feelings about your product. Feedback can come in the form of product reviews, survey responses, social media comments, or direct communication with customer-facing staff.
Feedback is important for understanding how your customers really feel about your product. It’s an external check you can use to verify your assumptions and understand what customers find valuable about your product.
Find Customer Experience Trends
Customer feedback can be a numbers game. While you shouldn’t necessarily discard any good ideas, you should have a general notion of how many of your customers are asking for the same product update. Aggregate your customer support tickets, comments on social media, and user suggestions from other channels into like categories, and you’ll see trends emerge in the things your users are asking for. From there, you can prioritize the most popular customer requests.
Categorize Customer Feedback
You can categorize like requests using a system that fits your product, but if you’re not sure where to begin, consider grouping feedback based on:
- Feature requests
- User interface (UI) or product design
- Customer experience
- Bug reports
- Reason for churning
An important side note: If you don’t already have a single, organized system to manage customer feedback, now may be the time to implement one. It’s common for feedback to come in through myriad user-facing channels, like social media, customer satisfaction surveys, reviews, email, chat boxes, or direct contact with customer-facing teams. A shared customer feedback tool will simplify your workflow and funnel all of that valuable intel into a single source of truth for your entire company.
Once you’ve established your categories, you can sort your customer feedback and quantify the most common requests. Sometimes, this is a straightforward process: You’re getting a high percentage of requests for a faster-loading app, for instance.
Other times you may have to dig into specific feedback to understand what your customers are really telling you. For example, if you’ve received feedback via exit surveys that users are leaving because they expected your product to do something it doesn’t, then the root cause of the problem may lie in your customer journey. Revamped marketing efforts and updated sales copy with clearer product descriptions could address that customer churn.
If you need additional context, you can always ask for one-on-one interviews with customers. It’s always a good idea to talk to your customers as often and directly as possible. One-on-ones allow you to get more details and ask specific questions about each customer’s feedback. That additional information can help you figure out if one customer’s experience represents a greater trend.
Ideally, you actively seek out customer opinions instead of passively waiting for feedback. For example, you can send out regular surveys for existing customers, ask churning customers why they’re leaving, or host focus groups to validate new feature ideas. This will help you stay connected with your customer base as your company grows.
Evaluate Requests Based on Urgency and Your Team Resources
After you’ve collected, organized, and analyzed your customer feedback, it’s time to make a plan for which requests to take on first. That means you’ll sort requests into high-priority projects and set others aside for when your team members’ schedules allow.
Focus on High-Value Changes
The best way to prioritize is to figure out which updates would have the biggest impact on your product’s value. Valuable products improve retention rates by reliably solving customers’ problems, even as those problems change over time. The only way for you to keep (and grow) customer loyalty is to change your product alongside customer needs—otherwise, your users will look for a new solution for their current and emerging problems.
Map your highest priority feature or function back to your value proposition. What is the one thing your product does better than all of your competitors? What do your most devoted customers love best? That feature or function should always be your top priority.
That’s not to say that you should ignore the other aspects of your product—if you’re receiving an overwhelming amount of requests dealing with the same general issue, that’s a clear sign that updates are in order. Urgent problems like bugs or app crashes should be addressed quickly, as these issues can lose customers the longer they persist.
Your customer feedback could also point you toward opportunities for expanding your target market. For example, if your customers regularly ask for a specific feature and none of your competitors offer it (or they don’t offer it well), you have a chance to break new ground and add to your product. In other words, find out what your users want and then deliver it.
Stay Within Your Team’s Capacity
Overall, it’s important to weigh each issue’s urgency against your team’s finite time and budget. Your most urgent problems have to be addressed first, but then you should balance your high-value changes with your team’s capacity to make those changes. In general, prioritize product changes in this order:
- Urgent problems with the product and its functionality
- High-value features that would improve customer experience and grow your company
- Low-priority projects that can wait until your team has extra time
Keep a bird’s-eye view of your planned product journey and roadmap as you prioritize. If you are faced with competing requests at the same level of urgency, you can deal with those on a first-come, first-served basis. Just keep in mind that taking a purposeful approach is typically the best way to manage product updates.
Incorporate Customer Feedback Into Your Product Roadmap
Your day-to-day tasks can get quite granular when you address customer needs by patching bugs and fixing urgent issues. However, product management is thoughtful and strategic work. The small choices you make now can impact your bottom line years down the road.
Your product roadmap should influence your strategic approach to tackling customer feedback requests. As you're prioritizing some projects over others, look to your guiding vision and goals to determine if a new product change is relevant or not—or to see if your product roadmap is what needs an update.
Update Your Roadmap When Needed
Roadmaps aren’t static. Your customers’ needs will influence yours. When considering product changes that don’t align with your roadmap, keep an eye out for clues that you’ve missed something. For example, if feedback trends show that customers consistently ask for a function you thought was out of your purview, it’s worth examining whether that would be a value-add for your product. You may have an opportunity to update your roadmap, expand your product value, and reach new markets you thought were unobtainable.
As long as your focus is on meeting—and exceeding—customer expectations, you’re likely to build a strong base of loyal customers with a high lifetime value.
Use a Customer Feedback Management System for Easier Organization and Collaboration
Prioritizing one update over another isn’t always an easy choice to make. However, with the right information at your fingertips, you can take some of the complexity out of your decision-making process.
UserVoice Discovery simplifies customer feedback management. We act as a centralized feedback hub for your product, connecting every team member to your customers’ needs. With UserVoice Discovery, it’s easy to collect cross-channel feedback, aggregate it into your focus areas, and analyze which product ideas have the most customer support. You can share product roadmap changes, update your internal teams, and follow up with customer requests all within one tool.
Sign up for a free trial of UserVoice Discovery and find out how we can streamline your product update process.