How to Filter And Manage Customer Requests in SaaS Like a Pro
How should product managers handle customer requests to improve customer satisfaction and drive value for users and the business?
This is the question we’re exploring in the article, so grab a warm beverage, find a comfy spot and let’s dive in.
- Customer requests are queries about your product. Some of them are solved quickly by customer support while others involve the development of new functionality.
- A customer request management system consists of tools and processes that allow the relevant teams to deal with requests efficiently.
- Managing customer requests is necessary to ensure customer satisfaction. It is also a chance to differentiate the product from the competition and identify areas for improvement.
- By acting on customer requests, we show them our dedication to providing a good customer experience. This can improve brand loyalty.
- Service tickets show the UI elements and product areas with excessive friction.
- Similar requests and customer feedback may highlight problems that need urgent attention from the product team.
- At the same time, product decisions shouldn’t be based solely on customer requests.
- To avoid falling into the customer request trap, we need to build only features that solve customer problems that are aligned with the product vision.
- Moreover, requests for highly customized features don’t drive long-term value for the business even if they come from powerful customers.
- Customer requests collected with public roadmaps and feature request widgets give a high-level view and allow detailed analysis as well.
- When responding to a request, we need to understand the problem it will solve and think of alternative ways to do it.
- Interviews, in-app surveys, prototypes, and fake door testing are some ways to check if there are enough users in need of the feature.
- When assessing the viability of the feature, we need to pay attention to the cost of investment and missed opportunities.
- To prioritize features, it’s best to look at the impact they have on customers’ lives and organizational objectives.
- Want to see how Userpilot helps teams manage customer requests? Book the demo!
What are customer requests?
A customer request is a question about an aspect of the product.
This could be sales, deliveries, features, and pretty much every other element of the customer experience.
What is a customer request management system?
The customer request management system helps teams streamline all the activities and processes that are required to handle requests or queries raised by customers.
The customer request management lifecycle typically consists of 4 main steps:
1) The customer contacts the business and raises the issue. This could be through various media, like a passive feedback widget.
2) The request is prioritized and assigned to the person who is in the best place to address it.
3) The person deals with the issue.
4) The ticket or query is closed.
Resolving the issue could be as simple as referring the customer to existing knowledge base articles. However, sometimes it requires the involvement of other departments, which adds a few more steps to the process.
A good customer request management system gives customer support and customer success teams flow for assigning, prioritizing, and escalating issues.
Why should you filter and manage customer requests?
Creating a delightful customer experience is not only about the product and its features anymore.
Quality of customer support could be one of the differentiators between businesses. It could also be a decisive factor between satisfied customers and churned ones.
From a product development perspective, customer requests are an opportunity to add value to the product.
Closing the feedback loop drives customer loyalty
Effective management of customer requests has a psychological dimension.
By collecting user feedback and closing the feedback loop, you show your customers that you value their input and are committed to delivering a valuable experience.
Such commitment is a surefire way to boost customer satisfaction and drive brand loyalty.
Service requests help you identify and remove friction
Service requests show teams where the friction is.
If customers keep raising tickets regarding particular functionality, it may mean that the UI needs improving or that product education doesn’t work as it should.
Whatever the reason, you can tweak your offerings to remove the friction and improve user satisfaction.
Customer feedback and requests can help prioritize decisions
User feedback and requests are an indication of what really matters to the users and can help us identify unmet needs.
For example, if many customers request one particular feature more often than the other, it could be a sign that the product is not satisfying an important user need.
Should you use customer requests to guide product decisions?
The short answer is no.
As mentioned, customer requests can be an indication of poor customer service or an unsatisfied need. However, satisfying every single need is not feasible.
Nor is it desirable.
After all, we’re not building products that solve all the problems in the world. Instead, we’re building products that solve a specific problem very well.
In fact, acting in the spirit of ‘customer is always right’ may prove really harmful for the product and result in a waste of resources and a very diluted value proposition.
How to avoid falling into the dangerous customer request trap
Managing customer requests and closing the feedback loop in a sustainable way that drives product value requires methodical analysis.
The team needs to understand who the feature requests come from and why they’re asking for the features. Only after a thorough investigation, we should consider developing the features.
Understand and make sense of confusing feature requests
Users may not have the technical expertise or the ability to articulate why they need it. Very often, they simply ask for one that competitors are offering.
That is why the first step should be to understand the reasons for the request. Or in other words, what problem are the users unable to solve?
It may turn out that our product already has the right functionality but the users simply don’t know how to use it. If so, tweaking the onboarding or in-app guidance may be a quick and cost-effective fix.
However, if we don’t satisfy the need, it doesn’t mean we should re-prioritize our roadmaps or backlogs to deliver the feature. For starters, there may be a more innovative way of solving the problem.
That’s if the problem is in line with the product vision. If not, that means it is just not the right product for our customers.
Avoid hyper-personalization requests
Even if there is alignment between the product vision and the opportunity, it may not have a broader market appeal. Or in other words, there may not be enough users who would benefit from the solution to the problem.
That’s often the case when we want to make our power users happy. They may be the most vocal ones but they only amount to a small percentage of the total user population – as small as 1%.
Generally, the more customized the feature is, the more difficult it will be to scale.
Avoid catering to VIP customer requests
Resisting the pressure to develop highly customized solutions is particularly hard with large corporate customers. As they bring a lot of revenue, they may feel entitled to concierge treatment. And we may be afraid to lose them.
However, whether it’s a request for a new feature, more customization, or more support resources, we should always assess the costs against the potential benefits.
If it turns out that accommodating the requests jeopardizes the achievement of your strategic goals, the risks may outweigh the benefits of retaining the customer.
How to manage customer requests without hurting customer satisfaction
Acting on customer requests is a fine balancing act. If we don’t we risk damage to customer satisfaction and our reputation.
If we do it too eagerly without sticking to the guardrails, we may put our organizational goals at risk.
Collect feature requests in a way you can use the data
Collecting the right data in a way that allows the right level of analysis is the first step. A product manager needs to see the big picture but also look in more detail.
A feature request widget inside the product is an easy solution here. These are easy to set up and give users a chance to submit their ideas any time they wish.
A public roadmap is another good way to collect customer requests. These are even easier to set up because you only need a project management tool that supports Kanban boards like Trello.
The key benefit of public roadmaps is that they are very transparent. They show who submitted the request and if you enable voting – how popular it is. It also gives you a chance to show off which of the requests you’ve already dealt with.
Understand the requests at a deeper level
As mentioned, understanding the reasons for customer requests is essential to manage them effectively. To do that, we need to carry out a deeper customer needs analysis.
Product usage tracking is a reliable way to go about it.
We could start by grouping all the users who have made the request together in segments. Next, you look at what features they’re using.
This can be enough to see that it’s not missing functionality but simply a feature discovery issue.
Identify the real job to be done the customer is trying to solve
To satisfy user needs, we need to understand what exactly the user is trying to achieve. Only then, we can generate solutions.
To get such details, we need to follow up on specific customer requests.
Customer interviews are probably the best bet here as they allow the product manager to customize the questions on the spot.
Is the feature request in sync with your product vision?
When you uncover a user need or pain point that your product is not solving, it’s not always a bad thing. It may be that the problem simply doesn’t fit into the product scope.
There are very few good products that can satisfy a very wide range of problems. The best products are great at solving very specific users’ pain points only.
That’s why checking how the problem is aligned with the product vision is the next step.
Validate the customer requests at a larger scale
The fact that a certain user segment is asking for a feature doesn’t mean that there is a wider demand for it. Before committing to feature development, we need to validate if it’s going to drive value for other users and help us attract new customers.
User interviews and or in-app surveys can help us verify if other users have similar problems. You can even put the idea out to your social media followers and ask if that’s something they can relate to.
Once you zero in on the problem to solve and have solution ideas, prototype testing and experiments like fake door tests could help you choose the best answer to the problem.
Is the opportunity cost worth it?
Next, we need to assess the viability of the solution from a financial point of view.
The first question is how much time and money is needed for its development. The more complex the request, the more expensive and time-consuming it is going to be.
Technical debt may be a factor too. If developing the feature requires massive changes to the existing infrastructure, the cost may outweigh any benefits.
What’s more, we need to look at the cost of missed opportunities. These are all the other things we could be doing to improve the team’s efficiency and incorporate product changes that help users get their job done in less time and with less effort.
Use a prioritization framework before adding the new feature to your product roadmap
When prioritizing features that go on our roadmap, we should be assessing the problems they solve. We want to choose the features that will have the largest user segment and will have the biggest impact on their lives and our strategic goals.
Some prioritization frameworks are better for that than others. Popular frameworks like MoSCoW or Kano Analysis are great when scoping the MVP because they only group features into broad categories.
For roadmap prioritization, techniques like Cost of Delay or Prioritization Poker may be more suitable. They are a fairly quick way to prioritize features by assigning numerical values.
There are very few businesses that can afford to ignore customer requests if they care about repeat business or customer retention rates.
Collecting and analyzing customer requests is a great way to identify new opportunities to add value and delight to the product. However, to avoid falling into building traps, we need to assess them methodically and rigorously and resist the pressure to please customers at all costs.
Would you like to see how Userpilot can help you collect customer requests and analyze product usage data? Book the demo!