The best source of ideas for your business are the people that work with you, but you must have a system in place, or they'll quickly learn it's not worth sharing. They need to know you're listening.
You must give a response and create a positive cycle that has people come back with more and more ideas.
If there's no system, ideas get lost, people quickly stop sending them. You've lost an invaluable source of innovation and drive in your business.
Your team knows your product inside out. They use it, push it to its limits, and test new things every day. They get to hear all the customer complaints and praises. So, it makes a lot of sense to hear your team out.
But how do you go about collecting their feedback and managing it in a sensible way?
Here are a few options to consider.
An idea board tool
Tools such as FeedBear allow you to collect ideas and feedback from your team.
You can make your idea board internal only, or allow your customers to access and participate.
There's a few main reasons why a dedicated tool for idea collection makes sense:
- Use voting to let the best ideas surface to the top. Let your team vote for the ideas they care most for and you'll soon have a quick way to know what to prioritize. The most popular ideas might not necessarily be the best ones or the most important ones to execute on, but they certainly deserve your attention.
- Commenting and discussions let you dig deeper. Other team members can suggest their own take on an idea, or report what customers have said or requested. The ability to ask questions and dig deeper to find the root cause for a problem or request will be invaluable.
- A dedicated space for ideas. You could probably have a shared google doc or spreadsheet. You could use anything - but a dedicated idea tracking tool creates the system to ensure ideas are followed up on, people feel listened to and participation and engagement is built into the platform. Your google doc will get lost and forgotten. FeedBear keeps the conversation going, automatically.
- Automatic notifications drive engagement. You've sent an idea, now? You wait anxiously to get some sort of proof you weren't completely out of line. Your idea has legs. It's an upvote, then another, a comment, a colleague had the same thought, someone else has a question. For these things to happen, for ideas to pick up traction, you need to have a system like FeedBear with automatic email notifications, so your team is always engaged when there's
- A space to close the loop. Ideas get built, they become part of the product, or they inform a new feature set, but often times we forget to let people know what happened and miss an opportunity to thank them and make them feel listened to. With FeedBear you can notify everyone of what's happening to their idea by changing status (e.g. planning, in progress, done) and showing a roadmap of where all ideas are by status. You can also post an update and keep a changelog with a log of changes and releases. It's a mini-blog that tells everyone what has been done and released. Another opportunity to close the feedback loop and promote sharing ideas openly inside the company.
You can collect ideas in different boards (e.g. feature requests, bugs, translations) and organize them further with tags (e.g. integration, priority, corporate, etc). The search feature will help you find exactly what you need in seconds.
Project management tools
We all use some form of project management tool to manage our daily flow of tasks. If you’re in a tech team that’s developing a SaaS product, it’s likely Jira, Asana, ClickUp or other similar tools. I
No matter your app preference, every project management tool has tasks, cards, boards and columns that you can choose for leaving feedback internally. Instead of jotting it down elsewhere, they can write down what they think needs to be improved on the spot. Your dev team can then take those cards/comments and turn them into tasks, shortening the feedback loop.
This sounds great in theory, but in practice, it’s not perfect by any means. This system means that every team member needs to create a new task, note or card for a new piece of feedback or search the existing database for a similar note by someone else. Moreover, if they see a piece of feedback or a feature request, they can’t upvote it or rank it higher because very few project management tools have this option.
An example of a product roadmap in Asana
Last but not least, it can be very difficult to merge and categorize the internal feedback from your project management tool with the feedback from your customers, or affiliate partners, for example. Unless you have some sort of Zapier magic going on with emails from customers being turned into Trello cards, it will be difficult to have both internal and customer feedback in your PM tool.
There are some tools such as Trello that can be pretty good for creating product roadmaps, but they don’t have much going on in the process that happens before the roadmap.
All in all, project management tools are great for managing your day-to-day tasks but they are not so great at capturing your team’s feedback.
We all use emails and they take up a good chunk of our day. That makes them a great platform for exchanging internal feedback about your product. If someone has an idea about an improvement or a feature, they can just send an email to your product manager or a dedicated feedback address. Since they’re sending emails every day, this shouldn’t be a problem, right?
In fact, that just might be the biggest problem. We all get hundreds of emails daily and it’s pretty easy to get lost in your own emails. When you have 1389 unopened emails, the last thing you’ll think about is sending the developers an email about that bug you saw on staging last night.
On top of the clunkiness, email suffers from another issue. Say that you have a separate address just for collecting feedback from your team. You’ll have to organize the emails into buckets according to priority, the type of feedback, the team it came from, and more. Once you do that, you’ll need to prioritize the tasks that need immediate attention. Unless you have some special plugin to do this for you, the standard inbox features won’t cut it for sorting your product feedback.
While it may seem convenient, email is far from perfect for capturing and managing feedback internally. If you do decide to go this route, you will need something on top of your standard email provider such as Gmail, for one simple reason. Voting is a crucial feature for any type of feedback and with email as a format, it’s pretty complicated to vote on anything, be it internal or external feedback.
If you’re around my age, you’ve probably spent some time in your teens on forums. Before social media became big, forums were the best thing for meeting new people and exchanging information. You can set up a forum in a few minutes nowadays and they’re fairly easy to use. With a short introduction to the format, your team can use forums to provide feedback.
While they are easy to set up, you still have to think of a way to structure your forum. You need to divide it into sections and open threads for different feature requests and bugs and come up with a way to get a birds’ eye view of your entire internal feedback system.
Wrike’s feedback forum
In an age when we’re used to information being dynamic, forums are a bit outdated and it may take your team to get accustomed to them. While they are easy to use, the adoption rate may be far from what you’re expecting.
They can be a great way to foster a sense of community and encourage your team to get in discussions. Everyone can discuss features/bugs/requests in different topics, attach images, code snippets, videos, etc.
One major thing that forums are lacking is the ability to vote on features and feedback. While there are ways to incorporate this in a forum, you cannot immediately apply the results as you could with a proper product feedback tool.
Slack/team messaging tools
Just like many companies use project management apps nowadays, team chat apps such as Slack are equally popular. They are great for communicating with your team, especially in an era when remote work is becoming the new norm. Besides communication, Slack and similar apps have tons of useful plugins and integrations that can be extremely helpful.
If you want to encourage your team members to leave feedback about your product quickly and effortlessly, just make sure to ask them to leave it in Slack. They can type out a message in a Slack channel and leave it be. You can then upvote it using emojis or some other type of system you come up with.
You can also get Slack to send you messages from other apps through integrations. For example, if a bug is created in Jira, you can set it up to send you a notification for each new task in a separate Slack channel. Moreover, you can set up any app you communicate through to send a message in a Slack channel of your choice.
There is a downside, though. First of all, you’ll have to look for an integration (or several) to make use of Slack for product feedback. Zapier is a tool that can integrate pretty much anything you want if there is no suitable Slack integration available. This can take time and money to get right and there’s no guarantee you’ll find a combination that works for you.
The second problem is the issue of cost. If you’re on a free Slack plan, your messages will disappear and you won’t see your history once you cross 10,000 sent messages. If you want to unlock your history, you’ll have to pay for accounts for your entire team. If your team is small enough, you don’t really need a paid Slack account. And if your product feedback keeps disappearing, Slack is pretty useless.
Then there is the issue of integrations. Whether you use Zapier or something else for making Slack a product feedback powerhouse, you’ll have to pay for each new tool you add, racking up costs. And at this point, why not pay for a separate tool just for internal feedback?
Last but not least, Slack can get very busy and noisy if you have a larger team - imagine all the product discussions mixed up with blog marketing, sales, customer support... Finding the right message using its search function can be a proper hassle. You can generate some great ideas in Slack but getting to them months later is a whole different issue. Even if you strongly encourage threaded communication, not every team member will use threads. All of this combined makes Slack feedback a great idea in theory, but practice shows otherwise.
There are other chat tools such as Microsoft Teams but they are all inferior in terms of customization and integrations.
So, what’s the best way to collect and manage feedback internally?
There are quite a few ways to go about it, as you can see. Each has its pros and cons and none of them is ideal for getting feedback internally… Except for a proper feedback tool such as FeedBear. It’s built for this purpose and it allows you to easily capture feedback across different channels and make your team’s voices heard.
You can try it free for 14 days and you’ll see exactly why it’s the BEST way to get insights from your team about your SaaS products.
And when you’re ready to get serious about managing feedback internally, you can opt for the paid plan which gives you ALL the features at a flat $29 per month. Sign up today to get started!