Your customers’ feedback is an invaluable source of information about how to improve their experience with your product and your organization as a whole. The information collected is valuable to both customer-facing teams and the teams building your product. In working with many different companies across industries and growth stages, we’ve found that everyone seems to get plenty of feedback. In fact, the most common comment we hear is some version of “we have more feedback than we can handle.” So while there are opportunities to improve how you collect feedback, in this post we’ll focus on why customer feedback is so important and how to make the most of your feedback through a seven step process for effectively analyzing and managing it.

 

What is Customer Feedback Analysis

Customer Feedback Analysis is the process you use to turn the raw feedback that you receive across all different channels into useful insights that you can use to improve all aspects of the customer experience. These aspects include your product itself, as well as the onboarding, support process or even things like the sales experience. Without a good process for customer feedback analysis and management, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of feedback you have and will be either unable to find meaning in it or you may draw the wrong conclusions.

 

Why is Customer Feedback so important?

You can’t grow a successful SaaS business without satisfied customers. To grow a successful SaaS business, you need to increase your recurring revenue substantially every year. If you don’t have happy customers, for every new customer that your sales team wins, you’ll lose some percentage of customers who are unhappy with their experience. This “leaky bucket” makes it incredibly difficult and incredibly expensive, to grow your recurring revenue. To underline the point, winning new customers is hard. But for every customer you lose, you have to acquire a new customer just to break even.

So what does all this have to do with customer feedback? If you want happy customers, you need a strong understanding of what parts of your product experience are working well and what isn’t. The best way to learn this is to listen to your customers. Customer Feedback contains a wealth of valuable information that you can use to make your product better and to improve your customers’ overall experience.

If you successfully manage and analyze your customer feedback, you’ll have a clear understanding of which items to prioritize on your product roadmap, how to improve your onboarding and support experience and how to stay ahead of your competition. By constantly implementing the improvements that your customers are asking for, you’ll develop a loyal customer base who will be unlikely to churn, will buy into your higher priced offerings and will even refer new customers to you. So how do you analyze your customer feedback?

 

7 Ways to Effectively Analyze Customer Feedback

Consolidate feedback into a single system of record

We think of feedback as broadly two types: proactive and reactive. Proactive feedback is feedback that you actively solicit from your customers. This may include things like surveys, customer advisory board sessions or quarterly calls with your customers. Reactive feedback takes the form of bug reports, support requests or feature requests. And all of this feedback comes in through many different channels.

Because feedback is comes from  so many different places, this feedback often lands in many different systems. Support requests go to a ticketing system like Zendesk, feature requests may be stored in a project management system like Jira and feedback collected from prospects may live in a CRM.

With feedback sitting in all of these different systems, it’s impossible to holistically analyze that feedback. So it’s important to choose a single system in which to consolidate all of your feedback. We’ve seen companies use project management systems, CRMs or ticketing systems to consolidate feedback. While any of these solutions can be made to work, we believe that the best system of record is one that was built to manage the feedback process (yes, that’s what we do).

Route feedback to the appropriate team

We find that most companies route feedback to a frontline Customer team, regardless of what type of feedback it is. This approach unnecessarily burdens your frontline support team with a lots of feedback that they can’t actually do anything about. For example, requests for feature improvements will ultimately be handled by the product team, so why not route that feedback directly to them? And urgent bug reports (e.g. your login page isn’t working) should be escalated immediately to an engineering team who can fix them. You can make this whole process more efficient by asking a few simple questions of your users at the time they submit feedback. This helps get the right feedback to the right team, and will ultimately provide a much better experience to your customers.

Categorize feedback

Now that you have all of your feedback in one place, you need a way to make sense of it all. This process begins with classifying or categorizing your feedback. After talking to over 50 companies about their feedback management process, we’ve developed a structured feedback taxonomy that can be used to categorize feedback. There’s more on the topic than we can cover in this post, but the important thing is to have a consistent system that you can use to turn a sea of feedback into meaningful, structured categories that will help you make sense of what your users and customers are telling you. This includes determining what each type of feedback is (e.g. a specific and actionable request or a general suggestion about your product) and grouping similar types of feedback together.

 

Segment your user base

To put your user feedback into context, you need to understand where feedback is coming from. Segmenting your user base into groups such as free users, new customers, enterprise customers and VIP users will allow you to associate each piece of feedback with the user segment that it came from. Not only does it put the feedback in context, but because not all users or customers are created equal, it will help you determine how much weight to put on a specific piece of feedback.

Weigh customer feedback

Now that your feedback is in a single system, and has been categorized and segmented, you can associate weights to feedback, which will help you more effectively prioritize it (more on that later). Useful approaches to weighing feedback include associating feedback to revenue (e.g. recurring revenue of existing customers or potential revenue of open opportunities) or measuring how pervasive a particular feedback request is (that is, how often is it requested and by which segments).

 

Prioritize feedback

The weights assigned to feedback in the previous step will help you to determine which feedback to prioritize for immediate action. That said, the context of your particular company and product will drive which items get the highest priority. If your product is particularly dependent on a few VIP users, you may need to first address the issues that are most important to them. Or if you have a large user population who share similar priorities and characteristics, you may first focus on the item that impacts the largest percentage of users.

As you identify a set of features to prioritize, you can engage your users right inside your product experience to have them vote on which of that subset is most important to them. This process will make sure that you’re working on the features that will provide the most value to your end users, and will make your users feel like their opinions are valued, deepening engagement.

Close the loop

Of course, you can’t build everything that every user has asked for at once. But keeping your users up to date on the status of their requests and providing transparency into other priorities that your team is working on will help your users see that your product is constantly improving. Customers will usually agree that items that your team has prioritized are more valuable than their request, which makes them more understanding that it may take time to get to their requests. 

So make sure that you update your users at each stage of the feedback journey. Confirm that you’ve received their feedback, let them know when it’s being considered and, most importantly, celebrate the release of those features that they’ve requested with an in-product announcement, where you can thank them for their feedback.

Analyze your feedback effectively to delight your users

The sheer volume of feedback that most companies receive can be overwhelming. By implementing a structured approach to analyzing and managing your user feedback, you’ll turn that sea of feedback into meaningful and actionable insight for your product roadmap. Companies that manage feedback well build better products and have much happier customers. What feedback challenges are you working on right now? We’d love to hear from you.