How to Include User Feedback in Your Roadmap

Daniel Knott Daniel Knott
minute read
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Receiving user feedback for digital products can be very painful for companies, especially for the teams doing the development work. With the rise of smartphones and mobile apps, consumers have much higher expectations for overall product quality and features.

According to Google, more than 50% of customers will leave a website if the page doesn’t load within three seconds. Similar numbers have been revealed by techbeacon for mobile applications.

Poorly performing websites and apps can leave a bad taste in the mouths of customers, and they will often let you know about it. Reviewing and rating apps has never been easier. For most, it takes only the tap of a finger. However, companies and software development teams can take this negative feedback and use it to improve the product, boosting customer sentiment in the process.

How to Receive User Feedback

There are several approaches to choose from when collecting feedback from customers. Here are several options explained with pros and cons of each.

Include Surveys Inside the Product

Adding surveys to products is a common approach. Usually a small banner on top of the screen indicates the survey and asks the user for feedback. Another approach is to ask the user for feedback once she or he has successfully finished a task inside the product. This completed action might be a message was sent or the video call ended and the user will be asked to rate this part of the product.

The same technique is also used to calculate the net promoter score of a product or service.

Pros:

  • Easy to implement. There are many survey providers on the market that can be used to create a survey and add it to a banner.
  • Can provide detailed and specific feedback.

Cons:

  • Results could be incomplete as some users might not finish the survey. Therefore, a survey should be as specific and short as possible to keep users’ focus.
  • The quality of feedback could be lacking as anonymous surveys are an easy channel to provide bad or poor answers.
  • Evaluating the results can be a time-consuming process. A company should not underestimate the amount of work that is needed to read and analyze all the feedback.

Mobile App Store Reviews

The Apple App Store and Google Play Store can be valuable sources of information if reviews are detailed enough. There are two things a team should always do with these reviews. The first is to reply to the reviews providing the user some guidance and help on the problem. The second thing is to note down and cluster the feedback and reviews in order to plan activities in the upcoming roadmap.

Pros:

  • No additional work for the team. Users go on their own to the app stores to rate the app and leave a review.
  • A team can implement a "rate this app banner" to ask for feedback. The banner will open the mobile app store where the user can leave the feedback.

Cons:

  • In many cases, users only rate if they are unhappy with the product.
  • Some users only leave a rating without a detailed review.
  • Ratings and reviews are public. Everybody can read the feedback and potentially get a bad feeling about the product.

Conduct User Feedback Coffees

Another approach to get fast and real user feedback is to ask people directly in a cafe to take a look at the product or service while having a coffee together. In a nice atmosphere where people tend to have more time, a team can get valuable feedback for the current state of the product and plan more activities for upcoming roadmaps. This approach can be used in all stages of the product development cycle. It can be used to test and collect feedback on small changes to the product without longer preparation time.

Pros:

  • Face-to-face customer feedback.
  • Customers feel welcome and appreciated. It gives them a good feeling that the company cares about their feedback.
  • Fast results.
  • Can be used in all stages of the development cycle.
  • Preparation time is low.

Cons:

  • The people in the cafe might not be the target customers.
  • Interviewers must be trained to ask the questions in the right way.

Invite Customers to the Office or User Lab

Another way to get direct feedback from a customer is to invite them to the office or user lab. In the lab situation, the development team can show the product or provide the user with a prototype to gather feedback. Before inviting customers to the office, it’s recommended to take a closer look at the target customers and to select a representative amount of users.

Pros:

  • Face-to-face customer feedback
  • Customers feel welcome and appreciated. It gives them a good feeling that the company cares about their feedback.

Cons:

  • It takes time to prepare.
  • Interviewers must be trained to ask the questions in the right way.
  • The lab situation might impact users’ feedback.
Testing cafe

Getting Feedback From Crowdtesting

If a company wants to get real and fast feedback from its target customers, crowdtesting can be the right approach to select. The company can define the testers based on the target customers and the crowdtesting provider will help to select these testers from the crowd to provide feedback about the product.

Pros:

  • Fast and useful feedback from real users.
  • Product iterations can be easily distributed to the testers again.
  • Testers are available at all times all across the world.
  • Easy to initiate with the help of a crowdtesting provider.

Cons:

  • If the crowdtesting provider doesn’t deduplicate bugs, the amount of feedback can be very high.

Talk to the Customer Care Department

If a company has customer care resources, it’s recommended to talk to them. This department is usually in direct contact with customers and is aware of the latest feedback.

Pros:

  • Easy to do in regular sync meetings.
  • Receive the latest feedback from those who work directly with customers.
  • Easy to integrate into the development cycle.

Cons:

  • There is no direct communication between the development team and the customer.
  • The team has to wait for feedback.

How to Include Feedback Into the Roadmap

Depending on the development stage of the product or service, there are several ways to integrate user feedback into roadmap planning. If the product is in an early stage, it might be useful to invite users to the office and provide them a prototype to get a first impression about the potential usage. If the company has no user lab or can’t invite people, the user feedback coffee might be the right choice.

If the product or service is already established on the market and new features should be added, a development team can pick one or more of the above mentioned approaches to collect feedback to add to future roadmaps.

No matter which stage the product is during development, the collected user feedback should always be clustered in themes and prioritized based on the impact and the goals of the company. After feedback is organized, the team can start to define use cases and to plan the activities in an upcoming release cycle.

Depending on the development approach, be it Scrum, Kanban or otherwise, a team can have a special lane on the development board filled up with customer feedback. For example, in each sprint, a team can pick one or two feedback topics and work on them for the current release. With that approach, constant improvements based on customer feedback can be created and shipped to users.

Final Thoughts

Last but not least, when collecting customer feedback, it is often helpful to use the feedback to improve internal processes in addition to customer-facing products. In most cases, a company thinks everything works fine, customer feedback might reveal some things to improve upon. One example can be that teams should work closer together to eliminate dependencies that slow down product development or degrade the quality of the product.

Only with constant customer feedback and self reflection can a company provide outstanding products and services that customers will love.

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