Product Management | 18 August, 2020

Why SaaS Companies need to use a feature request tool

Hellonext, Inc.

Karthik Kamalakannan

When you’re building a product, it is not just enough to focus on marketing and sales. You’ve got to help your customers to fall in love with the product, and there is where your product success resides!

How do you know what customers love? It is a very tiring task where all the SaaS companies would face, but your job is to understand the mind of your customers as thoroughly as possible and to hand over what they need most desirably.

Collecting user feedback is one of the prominent ways where the majority of SaaS companies use to find their customer’s needs. Usually, feedback is collected through emails, messages, comments, and all other social media possible ways but organizing all of them from different resources, and finding a solution is daunting, right?

The feature request tool - is the place where you can find the customer needs and handle all of them in a single place without any manual efforts and time-consuming.

Every single feature request from your user is a precious opportunity to learn how you can improve your business. It is also crucial to let them know that their feedback is not only heard, It is also brewing up with meaningful changes, and you’re prioritizing their needs.

Unfortunately, when your feature requests are mishandled, it leads to unnecessary mess up in the company direction, a waste of time for all who are involved in this process. Finally, your clients tend to freak out. So, handling feature requests needs a tremendous attentiveness.

Feature requests can be hard to handle unless you have a perfect management system to maintain this; you need to select an essential feature request tool that suits your firm.

*Pro tip: choose the best feature request tool for your organization.*

SaaS companies used to categorise their feature requests system into 4 phases:

  • Tracking
  • Prioritizing
  • Road-mapping
  • Follow-up customers

In this article, I will take you through the following topics:

  • How to track feature requests and how effectively you can utilize them?
  • How to prioritize the feature requests and why it is essential?
  • How to structure feature requests according to your end goal?
  • How to estimate each feature request?
  • How to find the cost of the feature?
  • How to analyze the benefits of the feature?
  • How to know which feature is in demand?
  • How to do product road mapping and how you can use it?
  • Why is it crucial to follow-up with customers?

How to track feature requests and how effectively you can utilize them?

Over the past ten years, most of the SaaS companies tried many ways to track their feature requests, like

  • Manually updating a spreadsheet
  • Adopting a Trello board
  • Utilizing an issue tracking system

But none of them satisfied feature request tracking. Manually updating feedback in a spreadsheet is not a good idea because it is tough to reach out to every customer, and it feels less attractive for them to add feature requests in the sheets.

There are a lot of tools available that can make collecting feature requests easier, organize them, and sort the feature request based on a higher number of “feature upvotes.”

Feature upvote lets your customer suggest their needed feature for the improvement of the product. Here, all your employees, users, guest users can upvote to the feature what they need. So now it is easy to prioritize the most needed feature for the next release.

It is even easier to track when all the feature requests are time stabbed. Whatever the feature request system you use should be capable of handling all types of features requests without slipping through the cracks. When you have too many feature requests and can’t decide, start prioritizing all the feature requests based on each organization’s needs, upvotes to prevent from duplicating the same requests, and private requests (who reached to you personally for adding features).

How to prioritize the feature requests and why it is essential?

I have heard that this triage stage is the one where many companies would face a lot of difficulties to cross over! There is the trouble of choosing an erroneous feature which leads to failing the efforts.

However, prioritization helps to choose the right feature to work. Let’s see how we can achieve this.

How to structure feature requests according to your end goal?

If you’re not sure about which feature request is the right one, distinguish your customer groups and set-up your end goal based on their needs. For example, if you want to improve customer experience check on the importance of it from the customer side first. If you find it useful, then you choose it, likewise categorize the feature based on your goal.

Keeping an end goal in mind for each feature request helps you to arrange the production release for both the short and long term.

How to analyze each feature request?

Analyze each feature by asking yourself the following questions

  • What is the cost of the feature?
  • What is the benefit of the feature?
  • Which feature is in demand?

How to find the cost of the feature?

Check with the below questions before you start prioritizing the features.

  • How much time will it take to build a particular feature?
  • What is the complexity of working in this feature?
  • How will it affect the software’s previous version?
  • Is the development team ready to work with it?

How to analyze the benefit of the feature?

Try to measure the value in real terms; check around these questions to find its benefits.

  • What is the potential value of a new market if this feature is added?
  • The estimated number of customers who could stay?
  • Is this worth enough to acquire new customers?
  • What your most valuable customers are requesting, and are there any possibilities where all users can use the same feature?
  • What impact will it make on the business?

How to know which feature is in demand?

  • How well do your clients care about the feature?
  • Are your competitors obsessed on the same feature?
  • Customers are about to leave because you don’t have it?

Try to figure out which feature is in demand by solving these questions. The demanded feature will never fail to work so you can choose it without any second thought. The efficient way to find the demand features is via feature upvote; more the votes, more the demand.

*Pro tip: If you need more clarity on prioritizing feature requests methods check out our blog on How to know what and when to build features for your product.*

What is product road mapping, and how you can use it?

Once you’ve done prioritizing, it's time to get things for planning the release. Most of the companies stick with a less formal system, using labels as “to do,” “in process,” and “completed” with less of a focus on deadlines and dates.

We prefer building a “product roadmap” to manage a plan that matches short and long-term goals with specific solutions to the improvement of the business.

Product roadmaps are created in different ways to showcase information like high-level strategic initiatives, periodic releases, detailed features, support, and bug fixes. There are plenty of product roadmap templates/tools available for sale; get one for a better experience.

Always start building your roadmaps by considering high priority to customer requests by mapping and scoring using a scorecard for every product is highly significant.

After building your roadmap, promoting transparency in communication with your team is essential to make great products that also help to keep entire organizations aligned with the set product strategy. As long as your roadmap is perfect, you’re in good shape.

Why is it crucial to follow-up with customers?

Ultimately, customers are the only hope for us to create products. As long as you receive the feature requests from them, it’s essential to ensure that every request gets a personalized reply. Try to develop a good relationship with them. It will be a great time to ask any questions that will clarify what the client needs out of the feature.

Always, keep your customers in the loop throughout the production process. Be completely transparent about process and priority. Understanding how your company prioritizes feature production may help your customers to stay connected. Paying constant attention to customers, clearing bugs, taking out the process iteration faster is how a SaaS product carves its way to success.

Last updated: November 23rd, 2022 at 5:11:32 AM GMT+0

Hellonext Blogpost Author Profile

Karthik Kamalakannan

Karthik is the Founder of Hellonext. He has helped prioritize customer feedback to build great products since 2006. Today, he helps product companies build data-informed products with Hellonext.

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