Customer Product Enhancement Requests

Tammy Krieger
Tammy Krieger Member Posts: 14 Contributor
Second Anniversary Photogenic

My entire career of decades whether on the customer or vendor side how to best manage and communicate enhancement requests seems elusive. Most if not all customer would describe some type of black hole experience with tossing requests to their vendors and never hearing back. 

Is anyone doing this well or even OK? Would love to hear your thoughts on your approach, e.g. collection systems/tools, feedback process as well as frequency, roadmap communication.

Comments

  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 249 Expert
    100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited April 2020

    At Duetto, we had a program that I thought was very cool. Of course, you had your normal due diligence of quantifying ROI of a particular product enhancement and weigh it against competing requests... yada yada yada.

    But one thing that product gave us in the Customer Success department was the ability to vote for one feature request that we would implement regardless of ROI as long as it was a single sprint season length of work. This allowed us to pick features that may not be with the overall growth strategy, but is a common ask from our customers. Think about the ones where we have a solution that is less than ideal. Because there is an existing solution, it was ignored by product. Now, we are empowered to select that because we keep hearing from our customer how important it was to them.

  • Arit Nsemo
    Arit Nsemo Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited April 2020

    My last organization is the one place where I'd say we did product feedback right. What we did was pretty quick and dirty, but it worked like a charm and was easy to stand up once we had buy in:

    1. Customer shares product feedback with CSM via email or on a call.
    2. CSM logs the feedback in a Google form as a user story, including the ARR of the customer, as well as their current risk level (this is critical and makes the product team's life much easier in terms of prioritization). The form was categorized by which engineering pod would own it. For example, customer-facing features were owned by Pod B, whose product manager was Rachel. When a customer-facing request came through the whole product team was alerted, but Rachel was responsible for an initial response to the CSM within 24 hours. 
    3. Product manager replied either with a simple answer to the question, or feedback on the enhancement request. If applicable, a Jira would be opened and shared with the CSM, and also tracked in the Google sheet.
    4. CSM shares response with customer.
    5. After grooming takes place, product manager was responsible for updates to the CSM in our weekly product/CSM meetings. 
    6. If CSM had questions about status in the interim, they would be able to work with the product manager owning it directly.

    The next level of this was for us to gather customers (we did this at mini summits, but you can also do this virtually), present them with enhancement and product requests, and have them vote, at scale, which ones they'd like to see our team develop. We turned customers into co-creators, and built beta program participants through this initiative. It also led to very successful products and features. 

    One pitfall we tried that I'd definitely avoid is having a #product Slack channel for general questions. This muddies it up and takes the product manager's time away from more critical things as they end up spending too much time answering one-off questions in real time. Include one off questions in the form as well, a 24-hour SLA for a reply is typically fast enough, and it's so much more civilized.

     

  • Joshua Maberry
    Joshua Maberry Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    edited April 2020

    I run Customer Success at a Managed Detection and Response provider.  This is something we have been continually developing and getting feed back on.  

    Current process:

    • Customer submits request via ticket or email
      • if by email the CSM will create the ticket
    • CSM does more discovery to find out what problem they are trying to solve
    • After gathering more information and context this is escalated to our product/development team
      • They have their own process to vet and prioritize the request
    • CSM then sets expectations with the customer on potential turnaround
      • Or if the request even makes sense for us to do

    I've found the most important aspect of this is setting expectations with the customer and gathering context from them around what they hope this request solves.  Many times the request can be solved without additional dev hours, and sometimes the request is simply not a reasonable one as it would take to many resources to achieve and/or doesn't make sense as a part of our service offering.  For the most part, even when we've had to say no, customers are happy as long as they feel heard and have good communication back from us.

  • Vijaya Vardhan P
    Vijaya Vardhan P Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited May 2020

    We managed this process via Salesforce

    1. Customer/support engineer/AM/CSM can log an enhancement request via the enhancement portal.
    2. The request then got routed to Salesforce. 
    3. The customer gets to see the latest updates on their enhancement requests in their portal along with support ticket updates.
    4. There would be an update on the enhancement request once every 2 weeks
    • If the enhancement request was coming out via the CR (the quarterly Current Release) that would be indicated
    • Or, if it is coming out via an LTSR (long term service release), that would be updated 
    • Only the high touch customers had the ability to file for a customization. Low touch, on a case by case basis

    Most of the times the customer understands that enhancements do take time. It is the lack of communication that kills them. After deploying this process, we cut out "what is happening with my enhancement" type of inbound support calls by over 85%. And, most of these calls eventually led to detractors anyways, as there was no supporting process earlier

  • Tobias Kederer
    Tobias Kederer Member Posts: 3 Navigator
    edited May 2020

    I look at this a bit different.  T-shirt size and group the collective requests and then let your customers decide by voting.