In the world of SaaS, the customer success (CS) team plays a critical role in ensuring customer satisfaction, retention, and growth. One of the primary responsibilities of the CS team is to gather feedback from customers and relay it to the product team, which can use this information to make product improvements and add new features. However, this process can often be inefficient and frustrating for both teams. In this blog post, we'll share our experience in creating an effective feedback loop between our CS and product teams using a central repository for tracking feature requests and regular communication channels. We hope these strategies can help your teams collaborate more effectively and deliver better products to your customers.
When I first arrived as the new Director of Success a year ago, I noticed that the existing system for tracking feature requests was pretty inefficient. It involved tracking some requests in AirTable, using some tags in Intercom, and relied largely on anecdotal evidence. This made it difficult for the Product Team to navigate the number of times a feature had been requested, or to understand the nuance of any specific request, as well as arduous for the Success team to add and update requests efficiently.
After several meetings and demos with the Success and Product teams and advocating for a new, simpler tool, I was able to bring in the Product Manager to see some demos of different feature request tracking tools, and together, we made a decision on which tool we would use moving forward. From my end, it needed to completely integrate into our ticketing system, as well as being supremely easy to add votes to if you were on Success, Sales, or Marketing. From the Product end, it needed to capture the ARR of partners requesting these features, have the ability to sort, filter, and categorize, and capture real snippets of what people were looking for.
There were some of our key learnings from this process that may be helpful as you’re looking to better partner with your Product Teams:
- Centralize feature requests: One of the biggest challenges in the feedback loop process is keeping track of feature requests from customers and prospects. We found that using a centralized tool to track these requests was essential for keeping everyone informed and updated. The tool should be easy to use and accessible to the CS and product teams, as well as sales and marketing teams. Our current tool integrates directly with our support ticketing system, which enables our support team to click a button to record a new feature request. Additionally, other teams can use the Chrome extension and/or Slack integration to add features they hear during sales demos and customer calls. By using a central repository, all teams have access to the same information, and there is no confusion or duplication of efforts.
- Establish clear communication channels: Regular meetings between the CS and product teams are essential for effective collaboration. It's important to establish a regular cadence of meetings and communication channels to ensure that feedback is shared in a timely and organized manner. We set up monthly meetings with the success, sales, marketing, and product teams to come together and discuss feature requests. Initially, we did this because it gave the product team the opportunity to ask more detailed questions about what customers might be looking for, and it gave the go-to-market teams the space to comment both broadly and specifically on what we're hearing from everyone we chat with. Over time, we set up a specific cadence for these meetings to ensure that we're not just talking about the same five feature requests each time. Now, we rotate monthly through 1) the top requested features, 2) the features that may be the easiest to add to an already packed product roadmap, and 3) the trending topics that seem to be coming up more recently.
- Choose the right tool: When selecting a tool to centralize feature requests, it's essential to choose one that fits your team's specific needs. We evaluated several feature request tracking tools before settling on Canny.io. We chose Canny because it integrated seamlessly with our ticketing system, was easy to use, and captured the ARR of partners requesting these features. Additionally, it had the ability to sort, filter, categorize, and capture real snippets of what people were looking for. Initially, we used the free version, but we eventually upgraded to a paid version when we realized we needed more functionality, like the ability to leave internal-only comments about requests.
- Provide training and support for new tools: When implementing new tools, it's essential to provide training and support to ensure that everyone knows how to use them effectively. The Customer Success Team should take the lead on training and support to ensure that everyone is up to speed. We led the internal training to all teams through various methods: documentation, video walkthrough, live demo, and constantly referring people back to the tool when they ask us a question or mention something in a meeting or Slack. (Ongoing training is just as important to make sure all the feedback from customers ends up in the same space!)
- Look for additional prioritization options for feature requests: Usually, Customer Success teams use the amount of customer feedback as a driving force for prioritizing feature requests. But when working with a Product Team that has a significantly built-out roadmap, there may be some surprises that come from “quick wins.” When you have a big group of people that are asking for the same thing all of a sudden, it’s also an opportunity to bring up trending topics if you’re not locked into discussing the same most-requested features each time.
Creating an effective feedback loop between the CS and product teams is critical to delivering better products and services to your customers. By centralizing feature requests, establishing clear communication channels, and choosing the right tool, you can streamline the process and improve collaboration between teams. We hope these strategies can help your teams work together more effectively and deliver the best possible customer experience!
Laura Litton, a proud Chicago native, honed her teaching and coaching skills in the dynamic environment of Chicago Public Schools. With a profound love for education and an insatiable curiosity, she constantly explored inventive strategies to captivate and motivate both teachers and learners. Transitioning to the education technology sector, Laura remains steadfast in her belief in the profound impact of education, striving to cultivate thriving environments for students and educators alike. As the Director of Success at LiveSchool, she applies her expertise to connect with and support the educational community they serve.