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Enhancing Product Development Through Customer Success Feedbackby@carolinagarcia
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Enhancing Product Development Through Customer Success Feedback

by Carolina GarciaMay 15th, 2024
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Customer Success and Product teams often struggle to collaborate effectively on user feedback. This article provides tips for both teams to improve feedback collection and utilization. Key takeaways include prioritizing trends over one-off requests for CS, focusing on actionable feedback for Product, and fostering open communication between teams. By working together, CS and Product can create a win-win situation for users and the company.
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In most product-led companies, there are two main players: Product and Customer Success teams. While both of them root for the same goal, which is ultimately making users happy, these two teams often tend to be at opposite ends trying to defend their own points of view.


Customer Success teams are client-facing roles, spending most of their day interacting and chatting with users. This will obviously make them much more likely to hear all the concerns, complaints, or suggestions that clients give related to the product or service. Inevitably, the main thing that customer success teams want is getting those product fixes that could solve their issues, from bugs to more serious complaints.


Meanwhile, on the other end, we have the Product team, which also has a lot on their plate. Surely Product Managers care deeply about user feedback, however, they've also got to consider other factors to make decisions for their product roadmaps, which are the company’s vision, strategy, business KPIs, all of this as well as user research.


This is why in this article, we're diving into how these two teams can join forces to make the most of the feedback they're collecting without clashing.

Elevating the Customer Success Feedback Game

For Customer Success teams, navigating user feedback is essential. Here are three strategies tailored to enhance their approach and to help them channel it in the best possible way to the Product team.


✅ Prioritize Trends over Volume


In customer-facing roles, it's common to prioritize loud voices, but volume doesn't always equal representativeness. That’s why they need to shift their focus from individual user voices to finding broader trends in the feedback collected, and that way, they can uncover insights that truly matter for product improvement.


Now, when a specific request pops up, customer success shouldn't dismiss them. Every user's input matters, but it's crucial to put these requests into perspective and not just rush into accepting them. Categorize them for evaluation by the Product team, considering alignment with the product's overall direction.


Ultimately, you need to find that balance between understanding individual user concerns and keeping an eye on the feedback that reflects the majority of user needs. By looking at trends and data-driven insights, CS teams can ensure that their efforts turn into improvements that benefit their ideal client.


Example: Consider a language-learning app, like Duolingo. If their CS team observes a spike in chat inquiries about a particular module, it might suggest technical issues or a broader trend, such as overly complex vocabulary. This trend would show the product team that there’s a potential gap in the learning curve and that it needs adjustments.


✅ Discerning Actionable Feedback


Let's dive into the second point: not all feedback needs immediate action. Surely, it's important to create a safe space where clients feel empowered to share their thoughts. But the reality is that not every piece of feedback will lead to actionable changes. This is because, in some cases, the person offering the feedback isn't exactly the company’s target customer. They might be coming from a different industry or have needs that your product isn't designed to address so specifically.


Not every suggested feature will be in sync with your company's vision. Product managers must learn to distinguish what feedback is useful and what won’t result in massive changes, to avoid investing too much time and effort into them.


Example: Imagine that Spotify starts receiving feedback from users requesting the ability to upload their personal music library to the platform. Surely some users might value this feature, however, this just goes against Spotify's core offering, which revolves around streaming pre-licensed music. In cases like this, they can explain that this feature isn't currently supported, but they can highlight other features that the app has such as creating custom playlists or exploring curated music based on user preferences.


✅ Extracting Insights for Product Development


Finally, customer success teams should leverage qualitative research techniques, such as user interviews, to get the insights that will help product development. The key is asking the right questions and really listening to their stories, helping product managers make decisions that users will actually love.


Focus on understanding users' underlying problems rather than just proposing solutions. Users might not always have the full picture and they could propose ideas that wouldn’t actually work for the company. That's where the expertise of the Product team comes into play. They will be able to ideate solutions that address the root causes of user problems and plan proper initiatives to add to the roadmap.


So, the next time you conduct an interview or lead a feedback session, keep the spotlight on the problem. Explore the scenarios the users actually faced, the difficulties they encountered, and their desired goals. User suggestions are valuable and definitely worth hearing but don’t get too hung up on them or become overly dependent.


Example: Consider an e-learning platform. In a user interview, a student expresses feeling overwhelmed by course materials in a single module. Rather than fixating on the student's proposed solution, delve deeper to identify the underlying issue (e.g., information overload) and gather insights for the Product team. Solutions may include enhanced progress tracking, visual summaries, or content filtering based on difficulty.


How Product Teams Can Leverage CS Insights

Now, let's move on to some strategies for Product Managers and other Product team members to effectively use user feedback and drive meaningful product improvements.


✅ Bring Customer Success into your Product Roadmaps


We all know collaboration is key and “teamwork makes the dream work.” When product managers involve customer success in the creation of product roadmaps, they end up gaining so many more insights that help prioritize features that users truly care about.


My suggestion here is to always keep CS in the loop by regularly sharing product plans and roadmaps. This will help them understand why certain features are being prioritized and give them an idea of what to expect in the future, especially considering that they might have to communicate that to users whenever they ask.


The CS team is also in charge of driving renewals and expansion, which is why the insights obtained are important to nurture long-term relationships with clients and facilitate business growth. Beyond that, when they have clarity and visibility of the roadmap, they can answer customer questions with confidence, which builds trust and makes users feel valued and not just another ticket number.


Integrating CS into the product roadmapping process is not simply about collaboration, but about a partnership focused on reaching product improvement and customer satisfaction.


✅ Sharing the Load with a Collaborative Approach to User Research


Customer Success teams are usually the ones taking user research tasks. However, while they're amazing at interacting with customers and exploring their needs, relying solely on them is not sustainable, which is why a teamwork approach is needed.


PMs should step in and complement CS feedback with their own research efforts. This means diving into user interviews, surveys, and data analysis to get deeper insights and make smarter decisions about where to focus their product strategy.


As an extra tip, if the company you work at has the resources, consider hiring a Product Operations Manager. This role works as the gap between the Product and Customer Success areas. They will help by taking the operational functions, which often are very time-consuming, off of PM’s plates. They'll also be in charge of managing user feedback, which is great to have someone handling both sides.


Example: Imagine an e-commerce app with a rise in customer support tickets related to product returns. While CS reps can gather initial feedback through these interactions, a PM can find out more about it through targeted user interviews.


✅ Fostering Open Communication Between Customer Success and Product Team


To ensure collaborative efforts, PMs and CSs need to maintain open communication channels between each other.


​​A good starting point in this direction is by putting in place weekly or monthly meetings/check-ins where both teams can meet up to discuss the findings of the research. These meetings serve as an important room for exchanging ideas, settling down the priorities, and brainstorming solutions as a team.


Building a culture where CS team members can share their feedback and ideas directly with the PMs, and also the other way around, is extremely important. Open communication pathways between teams create a sense of ownership and shared responsibility for the product's success.


In the end, developing open communication channels is not only about sharing information, but it manages to create an environment of trust, transparency, and shared goals.


Example: A few ideas for open communication tactics are: (a) Scheduling bi-weekly meetings where CS reps share examples from support tickets and user interactions. (b) Promoting direct feedback, where customer success reps can directly reach out to PMs providing detailed notes on specific topics and (c) Implementing joint user research, where the PM and CS rep can co-facilitate user interviews.


Conclusion

Like we’ve seen in this article, by implementing a few key strategies, CS and Product teams could have a great collaboration and finally tune user feedback into meaningful product improvements.


CS teams can raise the feedback game by paying attention to trends and patterns in their research. Apart from that, using qualitative research methods like user interviews will help them discover the actual reasons for the user's problems, which will make their feedback more insightful.


Product teams, on the other hand, can utilize the insights by including CS in the product roadmapping process. This ensures features are prioritized based on real user needs. Additionally, sharing the workload and guaranteeing close communication with CS people is a great way of keeping everyone on the same page.


Ultimately, by working together, CS and Product will be able to come up with a customer-centric way of product development, and this translates to happier users, a more successful product, and a win-win for everyone involved.