As a SaaS founder, product owner, or product manager, you will often have to deal with feature requests. Even if you have the perfect product-market fit, your customers will request features that they think would make their lives better.
Sometimes, those features are excellent and the requests make sense. Other times, they make you scratch your head and wonder what your customers are even thinking about.
Handling feature requests is a delicate matter and it’s an issue of communicating with your customers, setting expectations, and managing your entire product in a sensible way.
To help you better manage your feature requests, here are some tips.
You really need a dedicated app for feature requests
In an ideal world, all of your customers would leave feedback and feature requests in one place. Be it your email inbox or some other channel, you’d be able to easily collect feedback and act on it. In reality, things never work out that way.
As many channels as you use, that’s how many places you will get feature requests from. Your website chat, email address, social media inboxes, blog comments, LinkedIn page, G2 and Capterra reviews, you name it.
As a result, your product team has to work hard on putting feature requests from all of these sources into one place before doing anything else. You can use a tool such as an Excel sheet or a Trello board to collect all your feature requests in one place.
But then problems start to appear…
- You only have qualitative feedback that cannot be measured and prioritized
- You have a lot of duplicate or similar entries, so it’s hard to know how many are interested in each feature
- You have no way to follow up with customers as you don’t know who requested what
- You have a hard time turning those feature requests into an actionable product roadmap
You’ll quickly realize that to collect feature requests and manage them, commonly used tools such as Excel sheets won’t cut it anymore.
A dedicated feedback tool like FeedBear is designed exactly for this kind of job. You can use the feedback board aspect of the tool to collect all the feature requests in one place. Even if a customer leaves a request elsewhere, adding it to the feedback board is a matter of a few clicks.
Moreover, you won’t have issues with duplicate requests. Our software detects duplicates and suggests existing requests to users. You or your team members can also easily merge ideas together, so any remaining duplication or similar ideas can be tracked together. As customers can vote on the feature requests, so you’ll get a clear idea about how many are actually interested
Last but not least, you can directly connect your feature requests to your product roadmap. That way, you can translate the requests into actionable insights that your product, marketing, and sales teams can use. Perhaps more importantly, you communicate with the customers that their requests matter and that you’re actively working on them.
With your roadmap, you give everyone that cares an overview of what you’re working on and what’s going to be released soon (anything you’ve decided to make public, at least), which will help you better manage expectations from customers when it comes to new feature requests.
The great news is, FeedBear has all of these functions in one tool! Using FeedBear, you can collect feedback in one place, measure it and quantify it, sort your feature requests and move them to a product roadmap. It only costs $49 per month but you can get started today for free with our 14-day trial!
Feature requests are an opportunity to communicate
In (your customer’s) ideal world, each feature request would result in that feature getting built in the future. In reality, it takes a lot of steps and stakeholders for a feature that was requested to be even considered for development.
If you want your customers to continue providing you with feature requests, you need to show them that their voice is heard. When someone submits a request to you (regardless of the platform they choose), they should feel valued and appreciated.
Use every opportunity that you have to talk to your customers, acknowledge their feedback, and thank them for their support. Be it an email, an automated chatbot response, or something else, thank them as soon as they submit a request.
The hard part comes later - letting customers know that the request they submitted is being worked on and that it’s going to be delivered at some point in the future. The number of requests you get = the number of emails you need to send out.
Feedback platforms like FeedBear make this part easy. When a feature request becomes an item on your roadmap and you make any progress on it everyone that took part in it gets notified by email. That means that every time someone…
- Leaves a comment on a feature request
- Upvotes it
- Requests a feature and it gets built
… they get an email notifying them about the update.
This helps you build a better relationship with your customers, by letting them know that their voice counts.
Feedback needs to be quantifiable
At their core, feature requests are customers’ descriptions of what they would want from your SaaS product. And this is great - you need a description to understand their point of view and why they need a certain feature in your app.
Problems arise when you have several feature requests, from different stakeholders, customers and other parts of the business, and you need to decide what to build and what not and what to prioritize.
If you want to prioritize your feature requests, they must be quantifiable.
The easiest way to do this is to let your customers vote. Your customers will be able to see a list of existing requests before putting in their own. They can let you know which feature they want you to build by upvoting it.
Deciding which feature to build next may be as simple as relying on the number of upvotes. However, it’s usually more complex than that - you’ll have to consider factors such as overall business goals, budget, developer time, technical difficulties, and other factors.
Having the number of customer votes is a great starting point for determining which features you want to prioritize and build first.
If you don’t already have a system that allows your customers to vote on feature requests, we suggest giving FeedBear a try.
Discuss internally and externally
While your customers may seem like the most important stakeholders when it comes to requests, your team is just as important.
Even if a request gets hundreds of votes and it seems to align with your business goals, you should give a chance to your team to discuss the request and give their own feedback before proceeding to put a feature on your roadmap.
What most product teams do is build features based on their assumptions. They assume that the customers would love a certain feature.
And when your entire product plan is based on assumptions, you create features that no one wants to use. You waste your developers’ time and your company’s money and in the end, you lose your customers’ trust by building features they have no use for.
This is what feedback boards are for. Ideally, you should have one for your internal team, be it in the form of a Jira board or a dedicated tool such as FeedBear.
When you receive a feature request, let both your team and your customers comment at the same time. This allows for a lot of transparency and lets your customers see that they’re talking to people in charge and their words don’t fall on deaf ears.
You need a product roadmap
Every good feature request should result in a finished feature. But the road from a request to a feature that goes live in your product can be long and bumpy. There are quite a few steps that need to happen in between.
One of the best ways to show that progress and keep yourself accountable at the same time is to create a product roadmap. If you collect requests and use them to build features for your product, a roadmap is your platform to show progress, as well as let your customers communicate with you and among each other.
A roadmap is your plan for the future and you should use it to tell your existing and potential customers what you have in the pipeline for the months to come. It builds transparency and an open line of communication with your user base.
At the same time, every good piece of roadmapping software will let your customers interact with the roadmap. This means that they have the option of voting and leaving comments, as well as having a discussion with your internal team.
When you use good roadmapping software such as FeedBear, each interaction with the roadmap means an update in the future. Every time someone upvotes a feature request or leaves a comment, they will get an update about that feature as soon as it moves to a new column or it gets launched.
Think of a roadmap as your product’s PR. It’s what communicates your progress to the world while engaging existing customers and attracting new ones.
Feature requests are one of the most challenging aspects of every new startup. With some good practices, feature requests can become one of your best avenues to communicate with your customers. They can provide valuable ideas for what to build next, what to improve, and what to discard.