A product roadmap is a constantly evolving process throughout the product’s lifecycle. And it’s up to you — the product manager — to set the priorities and make sure you align your product roadmap with company initiatives; a process which involves identifying ways to improve and prioritize your products. But how can you be successful in doing this if you haven’t even gauged how your customers feel about the product in the first place? This is where customer feedback comes in.
What are product roadmaps?
A product roadmap is essentially a high-level visual which lays out the evolution of your product, including where you’re at now with the product, where you want to be and how you will get there. In short, it’s a way of communicating your product strategy.
More specifically, product roadmaps enable teams to:
● Priorities tasks as well as initiatives
● Coordinate activities among teams
● Build understanding within teams
● Create transparency, both internally and externally
Never worked with product roadmaps before? Venngage has a great template that will help get you started.
What are the challenges of building roadmaps?
Unfortunately, building roadmaps isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There are a few hurdles to overcome if you want your team to truly benefit from a product roadmap and pump out a successful and viable product (or service). So what are some of the biggest challenges?
1. Setting your priorities for the roadmap
This may come across as a surprise to you but the act of prioritizing your ideas and plans for a new product can be quite tricky. What will go into your roadmap? Which initiatives should be high on the list and which should be sacrificed? It’s critical that you identify the benefits of each decision you make within your roadmap and actually, product management as a whole.
2. Trying to please everyone
Everyone has an opinion when it comes to how the final product will look and function. As a product manager you likely need to take down the requirements of all stakeholders and somehow work these into your product map, BUT be careful here. Trying to please everyone (stakeholders and customers alike) will likely land you in what we call a ‘feature soup’.
A feature soup is the result of prioritizing unrealistic features as well as intricately detailed features into your roadmap, which typically leads to confusion and obscurities. That’s why it’s so important to hold back on packing your roadmap full of features, but rather taking things one step at a time and sticking to your priorities from the start.
3. Incorporating data into your roadmap
Lastly, many PMs struggle with incorporating data into their roadmaps. And sure, the intuition and vision of a PM goes a long way, however having a roadmap supported by evidence and real-world data will take you much further as this gives you a direction for your strategy — especially if it is a combination of quantitative and qualitative data.
Quantitative data such as growth metrics and impact on the market give you insights into trends as a whole, whereas qualitative data such as customer feedback will help you maintain a customer-centric approach when creating and improving upon your new product. For example, what do they think of your product? How do they experience it? What are their suggestions for improvement? The sooner you start working this data in your roadmap, the better off you’ll be.
In this article, we will focus on the latter: customer feedback. Want to learn more about why this is so important for your product roadmap as well as how to apply it within your roadmap? Keep reading…
Why is feedback a necessary ingredient for navigating your product roadmap?
Face it. Even the best product teams will only be able to dish up an approximation of what customers need in a product based on assumptions alone. However, with insight derived from customer feedback, product teams can uncover customer pain points, identify the features and functionalities customers care most about, and most importantly, priorities their product roadmaps accordingly. This customer-centric approach essentially gives you a sense of direction with your product that both you and your customers will be pleased with.
How to navigate a product roadmap with feedback
So how exactly does one collect customer feedback in a way that helps them create an effective product roadmap? Here’s our advice.
1. Start by setting a goal
Define what it is that you want to learn. Decide which areas you want to improve upon. Lay out your priorities. These are the initial steps you must take before you even think about employing feedback surveys on your website or mobile app.
For example, many product managers will start by focusing on the onboarding process. In fact, a good onboarding experience can bring you a number of benefits including lowering your support costs, increasing product adoption, and decreasing sales costs. This means that if your customer experiences a poor onboarding process it can be detrimental to your growth — especially considering it sets the tone for any future purchases or interactions with your business.
2. Make sure your collecting the right feedback
Once you’ve laid out what you want to achieve with your feedback, it’s time to start creating your surveys. Depending on your goal for a particular survey, you’ll need to make some decisions regarding the deployment and content of your survey. Deployment refers to how (i.e. passive or active surveys) you will deploy and where you will deploy your surveys on the website. In terms of content, you’ll need to decide on which metrics you want to use (Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction, Goal Completion Rate) and any other question types you want to incorporate.
Our advice is to use a mix of quantitative and qualitative feedback. Quantitative feedback includes metrics (or scores) which you can measure in a dashboard and steadily monitor their progress, whereas qualitative feedback includes open questions with which you can measure sentiment and really zoom in on why someone feels negatively about your product, service, or that particular page.
There are many feedback metrics to choose from when building a survey including:
● Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is a customer feedback metric that indicates how likely your customers are to recommend your business to others (including friends, family or colleagues). Typically visitors are presented with a scale from 0–10, with 0–6 being Detractors, 7–8 being Passives and 9–10 being Promoters. These groupings are helpful in tracking how loyal your customers are collectively.
● Customer Effort Score (CES). CES is a customer feedback metric that measures how much effort it took your visitor to achieve their goal. It’s important to know when the levels of effort among customers (to achieve their goals) are high because more often than not, high effort results in lower customer loyalty.
● Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). CSAT is considered one of the top scoring methods and customer feedback metrics (along with NPS and CES) among businesses for measuring customer experience efforts. It is essentially a measurement of how well a webpage meets the expectations of your customer.
● Goal Completion Rate (GCR). GCR is a customer feedback metric that measures the number of visitors who have completed, partly completed or failed to complete a specific goal on a website or mobile app. This metric is ideal if the user’s goal is to improve online sales funnels as it provides a lot of insight into where customers are and are not successful.
● Smileys / Star Ratings. These two are typically used for generic page rating, e.g. to measure the usability of a page. Alternatively, you can use number ranges, colors bars and even thumbs.
Need some inspiration? Check out this survey marketplace.
3. Analyse your results & take action
As you might’ve guessed, collecting feedback is actually only part of the process. Making sense of this feedback data (in the analysis phase) is just as important as collecting it.
Ideally the analysis phase involves rapidly sorting feedback and identifying trends such as root causes. Considering feedback typically comes in large numbers, dashboard analyses are particularly helpful in the analysis phase. Dashboards can help users visualise feedback all in one place, making it easier to identify trends such as an increase in usability on a certain page, a decrease in satisfaction in a certain funnel and more. There are also technologies such as text analytics which enable teams to gain insight into the sentiment behind trending feedback topics and really gauge how customers are feeling.
Once analyzed and insights have been extracted, the next step is to take action. Taking action based on feedback not only helps build up loyalty but can also lead to increased conversions. By leveraging the insights gained through careful analysis, companies can optimize their websites or apps in a way that provides their users with a much smoother journey. To do this properly, it is ideal to have the right action management process in place, enabling you to engage your ‘at-risk’ customers and put them back on the path to success.
Consistency is key!
Roadmaps evolve — which means you should continuously adjust yours throughout the lifecycle of the product, based on the ever-changing customer needs. In fact, most forward-thinking product managers see a roadmap as more of a dynamic compass than a rigid guide.
Therefore the process of navigating your product roadmap with customer feedback is an ongoing one as well. If you continuously monitor feedback from your customers, you will always have the latest and most relevant input for your roadmap.