How customer feedback and support teams can shape product development

Apps, Atlassian

28 August 2020 • 21 min read

    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. 

    Let the customers share their opinion

    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.

    Gathering customer feedback

    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 - the place for gathering both issues and feedbackOur 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.

    How does our feedback loop work?

    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

    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.

    Categorization. Distributing requests within the teams

    Getting more than 2000 requests during the three months period, it would take us forever to go through every request to check what it concerns. That’s why we categorize queries from the very beginning – customers select the subject area of their message and name of the app it involves. Once we receive the requests, we distribute them within our teams using our Queues for Jira Service Desk app.

    We define queues using JQL (Jira Query Language). For instance, we set the filter that issueType should equal New Feature or Bug Report. Then our queue shows only the records that match this requirement. We can also determine the user group for which a particular queue will be visible. This way, every participant of our process (support agent, product owner, developer, tester) has its own set of queues. What’s more, we browse the requests by the status like Waiting for supportWaiting for customerWaiting for analysis which is shown in the left side panel of our app.

    The support agent looks into the request (e.g. for new feature) and evaluates whether it needs further investigation with the reporter or it can be directly passed to the right team.

    There was no need to The agent changed the status for Waiting for analysis and the request went to the product owner

    There was no need to ask the user additional questions, so the agent changed the status for Waiting for analysis and the request went to the product owner

    In the product owners’ set of queues land only the requests which are ready for analysis. These queues are visible only for them and the analysts. They join forces to take a deep dive into a feature’s idea and decide on the next steps. To simplify and accelerate their work, product owners and analysts can use Requirements and Test Management for Jira. It’s a handy tool for organizing the requirements in a clear way, as it has a tree structure with different types of requirements. When the analysts get a new feature suggestion from the customer, they check its consistency with the requirements gathered in the app.

    Acting. Product development

    Once we select the customer’s feature idea for development in the next sprint, our support agent prepares the request for synchronization with the development project by adding Components and other useful information. Then the agent lets the customer know about what happens in the comment and changes the request’s status to Waiting for design. The last action triggers our Issue SYNC – Synchronization for Jira app which automatically creates an issue in the development project in Jira Software. It copies current status, most important fields’ values, attachments, and comments.

    Issue SYNC - Synchronization for Jira copied the request as a Story to Jira Software project and all fields' values remained the same

    Issue SYNC – Synchronization for Jira copied the request as a Story to Jira Software project and all fields’ values remained the same

    When the request appears as a Story in the development project, the team leader needs to look through it. They should fill missing information, link the issues with the original request, as well as with an Epic, and put it to the sprint. What does see the customer at this time? Since every status updates at their request’s view automatically, now they see Waiting for coding. What we also do is sharing the feature’s mockup in the comment as soon as we have it ready. This way the customer feels as a part of our development process and has an influence on its direction.

    Follow-up with the customer

    The customer knows that the feature is ready because we change the issue status for Resolved. Inside the request, we also share the new version of the app (containing the new functionality), so that the reporter could easily download it. We also ask them for opinion, since we care about customer experience in every stage of our feedback loop. Asking for their opinion is a brilliant chance for us to get a new brand ambassador. After all, what is a better product recommendation than customer satisfaction?

    Benefits of feedback loop

    We’ve just guided you through the feedback loop that we sincerely recommend, as it’s been successfully working for us for a longer time. Obviously it can be modified to match your specific needs and your team workflow. Anyway, you can be sure that every participant of the process benefits from it. Customers know that their feedback is heard and matters to you. For the support agents, it can be a great start to building a long-lasting relationship with them. Product owners get to know what the end users actually think about the products, what facilitates their work, and what they find difficult. The last information also shows testers what to focus on while checking a particular app. Finally, the developers and deployers can make sure if the feature which looked good while building and implementing, is really useful for the customers.

    As an Atlassian Platinum Solution Enterprise Partner and a Platinum Marketplace Partner, we’ve been working hard on helping improve the user experience of Jira Service Desk and Jira Software for the last 15 years. We’ve enhanced the overall quality of work comfort and customer service in over 5000 companies around the globe. Apart from providing expert services and developing apps on the Atlassian Marketplace, we’re also sharing knowledge on the subject with useful tutorials and guides. Read on:

    This article was also published on the Atlassian Community.

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