Incorporating User Qualitative Feedback Into Your Roadmap

In shaping your product roadmap it is critical to give your customers a voice at the table.  After all, they are the consumers of what you’re building, correct?  Building something without their voice in the conversation is akin to throwing darts a target with a blindfold on…random and potentially messy.

Whether you’re collecting feedback through a formal voice of the customer program (via surveys, user interviews, in-person session) or via informal means like bug reports and emails, as product managers we must find ways to synthesize and quantify the data in order to use it as input for our roadmaps.

One type of feedback that is often challenging is a user’s verbal statements during a user interview or via a comments box on your website.  How do you quantify a user's statement about how they really can’t find the tag button when uploading a document? Or that they don’t understand how the circle graph represents their scores? While I’m sure there are a number of ways to skin this cat, one of my favorite simple ways is to categorize and count.

It sounds elementary but is a relatively effective way to see trends forming in areas where your users are talking most about. For example, take our fictitious company here that conducted user interviews regarding their users pain points with their current solution.

Feedback Category
I really love the way you show me the statuses and percentage so that I can learn more about how I’m performing against the others. User Metrics
I don’t understand how to export my user data to use in XLS. Reporting
It would be great if I could use this on my iPad. Mobile
When I click on the number I expect it to take to show me a breakdown of each instance of the test. User Metrics
Why can’t I filter my data on this view? It would be really helpful Reporting
I really need to see a keyword breakdown without having to run a complicated SQL query. User Metrics

By categorizing each statement and matching it to a feature area, we can then see where their biggest pain points are (user metrics in this case) and start to dive a bit deeper to identify sub themes. It also allows you to identify more nuanced issues that would typically be missed by a structured survey response. 

The depth of your categories are up to you. I’ve done them as high-level features to start with but you can go to a micro level to eliminate steps (although it may be harder to spot trends).

In the end you’ll start to have a clearer picture of what your customers are feeling and can use that information as an input into building your roadmap, or you can use it to further dive in to a problem area and reach out for more information in order to further refine the problem.

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