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  3. How To Strengthen a Product Roadmap With Customer Feedback

Article How To Strengthen a Product Roadmap With Customer Feedback

Lauren Sickel Mar 15, 2022

Turning a bold vision into reality requires high-level strategic planning. A well-executed product roadmap lays the groundwork for how and when you deliver your product to market. However, many organizations overlook opportunities to incorporate customer feedback into their planning process.

Customers have big expectations. In a report that gathered insights from over 15,000 consumers, Salesforce discovered that 63% of consumers expect businesses to understand their specific needs and expectations. If you don't consider your customer throughout the entire product development process, you will set yourself up for failure.

Gathering customer feedback and allowing it to inform your product roadmap will increase your chances of a successful product launch. It will also give customers a better experience from the start, which helps build on brand loyalty. It should come as no surprise that a happy, loyal customer base makes for a great business.

product roadmap

What Is a Product Roadmap?

A product roadmap is an action strategy that communicates to others what you hope to accomplish with your latest product. It lays out everything your team needs to consider when creating and developing a product, including high-level goals, important features, and an overall timeline. A product roadmap can help you stick to your objectives and make it through a successful launch.

All teams — from marketing, engineering, and product management — must be on board with the overall vision. Think of your roadmap as a representation of your company’s commitment to delivering on your goals.

Having a well-designed product roadmap helps everyone involved understand where they need to focus. As you design your product roadmap, you'll also need to consider how to work in customer feedback to make sure you're on the right track.

How To Incorporate Customer Feedback Into Your Product Roadmap

When building your product roadmap, keep these essential elements in mind.

1. Define the problem

What have your customers been telling you? Think about the issue you’re trying to solve for them with your product. How will its development positively impact you and them? Look for gaps you need to fill based on customer feedback from day-to-day conversations with customers and answers customers have provided in surveys.

Look at what customers liked, what they felt was lacking, and what they expect and want from your company. All of this information will help you define the problem you need to solve.

2. Create well-defined requirements

Your sales and support team has the most first-hand knowledge of how customers feel about your company’s products. Combine customer feedback with the information gathered from those teams to figure out what use-cases you need to prioritize. Use that information to create requirements that cover every detail of your product.

3. Define your product’s value to users

Now that you’ve reviewed feedback from your customers and outlined your requirements, it’s time to quantify the value of your product. Define the specifics of how your product benefits customers and makes their lives better. Also, show why your product should be a consumer’s top choice compared to alternatives on the market.

4. Make deadlines but be flexible

Make sure your product roadmap includes details around when to complete various objectives. Leave some wiggle room in your deadlines, especially if you get customer feedback that could change the project's scope.

Keep in mind that the roadmap’s primary function is to act as a guide. You don’t want to make promises then not be able to follow through on them. Avoid using specific dates in your roadmap. Instead, use monthly or quarterly deadlines when it comes to deliverables.

5. Gather input from all stakeholders

A successful product launch will involve the knowledge and expertise of many of your company's internal teams. Reach out to each department early in the product roadmap development process to get their feedback. Talk to executives, marketing personnel, sales reps, and developers. They can give you valuable insight into things like:

  • Important product features

  • The performance of similar products on the market

  • What kind of market exists for the product

  • Technical details to include in the product's requirements

  • Advantages that the product offers to customers

It helps to come up with flexible outlines to present to each stakeholder. Focus on the information essential to that stakeholder's specific area. Allow each stakeholder to make modifications based on customer feedback.

Once you’ve come up with a basic roadmap, share it with the entire team. Visibility throughout the organization shows that you have a plan that aligns with the company’s overall vision and strategy.

product roadmap

6. Stay on top of fresh input from customers

In addition to gathering feedback from numerous sources throughout the planning process, you need to talk to customers directly to vet the problem you are solving and your proposed solution. It’s also critical to stay on top of ongoing feedback while you are executing your plan.

The best way to do this is to stay close to day-to-day customer feedback. Are customer needs evolving since you began executing on your plan? Are there new customers you should talk to who recently experienced the problem you are working to solve? What are Sales, Support, and Customer Success hearing? Keeping close to customer feedback is a key to a successful product launch.

If you need more detail beyond this feedback, never be shy about talking to more customers directly. You can also get input by sending out surveys, organizing panels to talk to customers in person, or inviting general feedback via your social media channels.

7. Stay connected to users

Your customers will continue to give you valuable insights, even after your product launches. Tap into your frontline teams, like the sales department, to get a sense of how customers are reacting to your new product. Real-time customer feedback is some of the most valuable information you can get to stay competitive.

Best Practices for Gathering Customer Feedback

As you start to develop your product roadmap, you'll want to start gathering all of that valuable customer feedback.

1. Go Where Your Customers Are

Start by collecting information through channels like:

  • Direct customer feedback

  • Conversations between customers and front-line teams like sales, support, and customer service

  • Social media channels

2. Analyze the Info

Once you figure out which feedback channels provide you with the most valuable information, connect it all through a centralized platform that's accessible to everyone on your team. Using a platform like Quala can help you gather input from all of your different channels in one place and mine through all of that data for insights to inform your roadmap.

With all of your data together, you will pull together a story on the key topics that are relevant to planning out your roadmap. Common examples include:

  • Difficulties customers have with using your products

  • New use-cases that the product doesn’t currently solve

  • References to new features or competitor features (these need to be tied back to use-cases)

  • Things that customers consider as a must-have

  • Whether dissatisfaction among the customer base is impacting sales

  • Which competitors are doing a better job meeting customer needs

  • Emerging needs of specific customer segments, such as high-value customers or customers with a specific firmographic (e.g. industry)

Your customer service stats can reveal the biggest pain points for customers. Look into how satisfied customers are with how your business responds to their issues. Your product roadmap may need to define ways to improve a customer’s experience when they interact directly with your organization.

3. Talk to Customers Directly

Start looking at the information you’ve collected to help define your priorities. Then, talk directly to your customers to get a deeper understanding of what they want and whether your product delivers on those needs. Their input and feedback will help you feel confident that you'll be able to deliver the right solution for them.

Get Started on Your Product Roadmap

Once you’ve identified your priorities and areas for improvement, take that information back to key stakeholders. With Quala, you can share valuable information with other company stakeholders to create a strong project roadmap that addresses all potential product issues and customer concerns before your product even hits production.

If you’d like more information on how Quala can improve your product roadmap development strategy, contact one of our representatives to set up a consultation.