How to convert user feedback into a new product feature
There are two necessities for succeeding in product management: knowing your customer base and satisfying your customer base. User feedback is a valuable method product managers can use to keep a finger on the pulse of both, as well as get practical feature requests from actual users.
Feature requests are specific, consumer-generated ideas that a user believes can make a product even better.
With feature requests in hand, you might wonder how to translate this feedback into a new product feature.
Why is it important to survey your customers?
If you’re looking to turn users into lifelong brand advocates, you first need to understand exactly what customers like and dislike about your company. Customer surveys are fool-proof ways to gather these details, as well as locate any customer-identified areas for improvement.
For one, customer surveys are simple methods to get your customers involved with your company, services, or products. Users feel valued when you ask them to share their personal insight, and they appreciate it when you address their specific concerns. Satisfied users can translate into loyal, repeat customers who share their experiences with others.
Likewise, customer surveys can serve as a roadmap to improve your general operations or product-specific features. Using a survey maker like JotForm can accelerate the process and help you gather priceless, unadulterated feedback on items such as functionality and design, accessibility, content, and more. Product managers should ask specific questions about a user’s exact needs to generate new product features.
8 tips for converting user feedback into a new feature
One of the most common problems among product managers is receiving feature requests that are hyper-specific to the individuals that requested them. When it comes time to convert user feedback into potential new features, it’s key to organize, prioritize, and conceptualize each idea to ensure whatever feature is in the pipeline will benefit your product as a whole.
Consider these eight tips for converting user feedback into a new feature.
1. Sort feedback
There are three different types of user feedback that can be turned into new features for a product:
- Bug reports: when a user flags something that’s not working properly
- Feature improvements: when a user suggests updates to a current feature
- Feature requests: when a user submits an idea for a completely new feature
Bug reports generally require quick fixes, as the core of the product or feature won’t change. Feature improvements or requests, on the other hand, can entail months of work.
To ensure user feedback remains productive and timely, it’s paramount to sort each submission. This way, simple bugs can be fixed immediately, and more specific requests can enter the pipeline for consideration.
2. Understand the use case
Before converting user feedback directly into a product feature, consider why a user is suggesting the feature in the first place. What’s the use case? Each of your product’s features should address a problem among your target audience or encourage more users to sign up to use your product.
A new feature should also align with your current brand initiatives and goals. If one user out of 20,000 suggests a use case for a feature that doesn’t apply to the remainder of your audience or your long-term goals, that’s an indication the feature may not be such a great idea after all.
3. Prioritize and categorize
This next step is crucial if you plan to manage a large volume of requests: Categorize and prioritize each one. Once feature requests or improvements have been placed into buckets and vetted, further categorizing each idea makes it easy to plan for and implement the new product feature.
A convenient method of categorizing feedback is to assign an importance label, such as “High Priority” or “Stretch Goal,” to easily visualize which suggestions must come first. You can further prioritize “High Priority” ideas by ranking them in order of most important to least important, then putting those at the top of this list into the backlog.
4. Poll your customers
If you’re on the fence about a new product feature suggestion, poll your community. Start by discussing the user feedback with colleagues to gather their viewpoints. If the verdict is still out on whether or not the new product feature would solve real-world problems for your customers, ask your customers themselves.
Customers like to feel valued, so give them a chance to weigh in by sending additional customer surveys or chatting with them on social media platforms. If the consensus is that the feature would make life easier for your clientele, it’s likely safe to move forward with. But if there’s little to no interest in the feature, it might be wise to shelve the idea for the time being.
4. Create UX wireframes
Once a feature request has been prioritized and has received the green light from colleagues and customers, save yourself — and your developers — time and energy by creating UX concepts first. This will help solidify the use case for the feature, so you can be sure you’re developing it correctly from the start. Otherwise, you risk misinterpreting the user flow and adding or removing functions that could complicate the user experience.
Start with mockups or wireframes designed in InVision Studio, Photoshop, Figma, or even with pen and paper. Flesh out the functions and map out which actions a user would take. When it comes time to map the technical elements, you can be confident the feature matches its use case.
5. Create a feature prototype
Even if it looks great in theory, the only way to truly put a new product feature to the test is to create a prototype. Using your UX concepts as the basis for the feature, build a prototype that can be shared internally, among customers, and with stakeholders when applicable. A prototype will serve as a substitute for the real thing, so you can also determine if the new feature will mesh seamlessly with your existing interface.
6. Gather feedback on the prototype
With a prototype in hand, return to the user feedback that first referenced the new feature. Locate the contact details for the specific customers, and ask if they would like to see the new feature or test it. If your customer survey was sent via email, simply grab the user’s email address and send the prototype of the feature with a brief message thanking them for their recommendation.
This can be an excellent way to gauge if the new product feature satisfies its use case or if existing customers will find it difficult to manage. Plus, it shows customers that you took their feedback to heart.
7. Soft launch the feature
If emailing customers samples of your prototype is nerve-racking, beta test or soft launch your new feature instead. Allow a sample of your audience to test-drive the new feature, or A/B test it with your existing features to figure out which customers prefer.
This method of testing or soft launching can be noncommittal, so there’s no harm done if you choose to scrap the addition at the last moment — plus, you’ll have a concrete reason why that specific feature request may not work in the future.
8. Measure success over time
When you convert user feedback into a new product feature, the goal is to improve your product as a whole. Be sure to continue sending customer surveys so you remain aware of customers’ expectations. Remember to ask specific questions about the new feature and encourage customers to relay their honest feedback to inform new product additions.