Feature Voting: How to Make the Most of It

  • Stick to your development budget (and keep your boss happy!)
  • Stop building features that no one ends up using
  • Reduce the awkward goodbyes of customer churn

Why is Feature Voting Important?

Unless you have an unlimited budget and unlimited development resources (in which case, contact us? 🙂) then you need a way to prioritize and focus on what matters.

How Feature Voting Benefits Your Business

Not sold yet on the idea of feature voting? Take a look at some of the key benefits for your business:

You Instill Customer-Driven Development

We all have a crazy uncle that tells us not to share their “millionaire” business idea about creating a brand of sunglasses for dogs — “just in case someone else steals it”. 😬

You Make Data-Driven Decisions

Let’s talk about making data-driven decisions, by providing you with some shocking data…

You Empower Your Customers

Your earliest customers are crucially important to your long-term success because they’re the ones that trust and believe in your vision before the product is fully formed.

You Manage Their Expectations

Unfortunately, most customers have no idea about:

  • How long it takes to develop a feature
  • How much money it costs to develop a feature
  • If it’s even feasible, and what the opportunity cost would be

You Aggregate Customer Feedback

Imagine the following scenario:

  • Shaun requests a bigger menu header via your company Twitter
  • Ben sends the CEO an email asking for a redesigned admin panel
  • Dave posts a letter (an actual letter! 😛) wanting automated invoices

You Create Anticipation

The mere act of sharing your future roadmap and allowing customers to vote on it creates anticipation for what’s to come.

Best Practices On Using Feature Voting

In the mysterious world of feature voting, there are two main ways that you’ll see it implemented:

Simple Voting System

Using a simple voting system, a company will share a list of the top features on their roadmap and allow customers to upvote the features that they want the most. The result you end up with is a long list sorted by the most popular feature requests at the top and the more obscure ones at the bottom. This is the most common way you’ll see things done, but it does lack a little bit of detail and specificity.

Share regular updates

It’s also important to update users on how things are going on a regular basis. When you release a new feature that’s been highly requested, don’t just assume that they will know. Make sure that you communicate what’s been released and why it matters. And even if you haven’t released anything, try to communicate progress milestones wherever possible so that your customers can be a part of the journey. You want them to feel like they are co-creating with you so that they are more invested in your company’s long-term future. Err on the side of too much communication, rather than too little.

Engage with customers as much as you can

It’s tempting to just put up a roadmap and leave it there, but you’re leaving so much value on the table if you do so. Take advantage of the fact that customers are interacting with you and engage them on those features. Ask questions about why those features matter. Test your solution ideas. Engage in online communities in your space. Encourage two-way dialogue on your social media platforms. All of this serves to give you more information about what customers want and it can add color to the feature voting itself.

Challenges When Using Feature Voting

Feature voting isn’t all puppy dogs, unicorns, and rainbows — it has its flaws you need to be aware of. Here are some of them:

Customers don’t always understand the real problem that they face

It’s been a common trope in entrepreneurship that the real innovators and visionaries are able to ignore what everyone else is doing and break things down to first principles in order to come up with a solution that changes the world.

Customer Segmentation

While we might think that every customer is equal, the truth of the matter is that certain customers are going to be more valuable to you than others based on how they use the product, what payment plan they are on, how influential they are, and a myriad of other factors. Ideally, you would want to segment your customers into these buckets so you could apply more weight to the opinions of your more important customers, but in simple upvoting systems that isn’t always possible.

Disappointing Users

When you’re completely transparent, there’s always a risk that you overpromise and underdeliver.

Take it One Step Further: Connect All Your Feedback to Your Product

The concept of feature voting is simple, but it can run into all sorts of challenges when it’s not implemented with the right tools.

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ProdCamp

ProdCamp

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ProdCamp — public roadmaps and customer feedback management platform. Connect customer feedback to your #roadmap and focus on what matters. www.prodcamp.com