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Customers and support agents are a perfect tandem for enhancing product development. The first ones use our product so they know its strengths and weaknesses. The second ones are on the front line in terms of handling customer queries and issues. Then it's worth creating a process of collecting customer feedback, passing it to the right team members, and using it for the new features' development or improvement of the current ones. We'll present practical tips and solutions by taking a closer look at how such a process is organized in our product teams.
We all work hard on developing our products, equipping them with new features and hunting for any bug that may appear in this whole process. However, our assumptions about the product's performance and its actual functioning may differ. Our customers are those who test the possibilities of our solution out on a daily basis and thus they can hit the problems or notice a lack of some core features. If we don't give them a chance to leave their piece of feedback, it's more probable that they'll give up on using our product. And what if we do? Not only they'll most likely stay with us, but also they'll be satisfied that our product meets their needs (obviously only if we consider them in the development process). It'll be a win-win situation because they'll hand us their pain points on a plate.
Three years ago our customer contacted us with a feature idea which came from their daily work issue. They found it challenging to give access to their issues manually for every user. That is why they needed functionality that makes it possible to do for the whole teams. Back then, Atlassian had just added Organizations to Jira Service Desk Server, but it couldn't be updated in synchronization with Jira user groups. The fact that the enterprises' Jira instances were connected to Active Directory to have the same data in two platforms wasn't very helpful. It was still effortful to keep the Organization memberships up-to-date. We gathered the requirements and added the synchronization feature to our Extension for Jira Service Desk app.
The customer's insight wouldn't probably get any further without the engagement of the support team. The customer support agents do their best to solve the reported issues. However, limiting the support role to answering customers' queries is a waste of their huge potential. Using the support team knowledge and their direct relation with the client is valuable for every business. Let's see how to start the process of using customer feedback for product development.
There are a variety of ways to collect opinions: free online customer surveys, follow-up emails with a request to rate the experience with our product or services, or even a complex feedback software. And each of these solutions could probably work for our company. But our support team uses Jira Service Desk to handle our users' requests, so having a separate platform for them to leave opinions would mean constant switching between the tools and as a result - a waste of time. That's why we decided on the Customer Portal to be the only place for gathering both issues and feedback.
Our Customer Portal in Jira Service Desk
Our clients can come to the Customer Portal from our apps, product documentation, our Marketplace account, emails we send them, or the Atlassian Apps landing page. We have a single project setup for all our apps and separate request types for different kinds of queries (problem with configuration, licensing questions, etc.). When the customers select the query type, they see only a few basic fields. However, the form can expand, depending on the values they enter. They fill the form top-down, seeing only the fields which are important for them at a given moment. Regarding the new feature's suggestion, we recommend our users to describe it as a use case, so that the product owners and developers could better understand their need. Once the customers send their request, its status changes into Waiting for support. Through the whole feedback process, they can follow the work on their request, since we update the status according to the stage a query is on.
Our feedback solution proves us right, as we regularly receive a lot of customers' requests through our Customer Portal. In the last 3 months, we've gotten more than 2200 requests together in all categories, including 227 new feature suggestions. And almost every type of query influences our application development.
We've already shown how we gather our customers' opinions. This activity is the first stage of our feedback loop. What does happen next? Knowing that we'd like to use customer feedback in product development, we need to set up the methods of processing it. But firstly, we need to get a closer look at the feedback loop in general terms.
The four-step strategy of gathering and implementing customer feedback. Source: HubSpot
The feedback loop is a process of using customer feedback to create better products or services. It lets us constantly collect, analyze, and implement our clients' suggestions to improve our products. Now we'll present how to perform the rest of the process (we covered the first stage previously) using the Atlassian toolkit and our apps expanding its features.
Are you curious about how feedback loop works in practice? Read the second part of the article.
Alina Urbaniak [Deviniti]