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Your silent customers have something to tell you

Why capturing little annoyances can transform how users feel about your product

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Who feature requests come from

Customer feature requests tend to enter a SaaS business via the support team and often it’s a result of them being annoyed about something. This can lead to the majority of feature requests coming from users who aren’t particularly happy.

People have to reach a certain point before something annoys them enough for them to take action and reach out usually via an in-app support request or email to the help team. This is certainly the pattern we saw in previous companies but as our businesses scaled, we started to think about our other users….what about all those customers that have great feedback & feature requests but no method to communicate them? The silent customers that only talk when we phone them up or when they have a real problem they need help with?

If you don’t have a method for capturing and organising feedback & feature requests from your silent customers, you can quickly end up in a situation where customer feature requests are skewed by the loudest voices and users with the biggest problems.

The currency of the feature request

As we’ve mentioned before customers love to feedback and make suggestions and this is often done using feature requests. Instead of explaining a use case and pain point, the discussion usually begins with a feature request - it’s simply the easiest way for customers to explain what they need.

It takes a lot of effort to educate this out of users and that’s simply not possible at large scale nor is it arguably, the best thing to do anyway. Instead, have an open dialogue about feature requests. Dig to the bottom of the problem and you’ll be surprised at what you will find. Often the same feature request from different customers is requested to solve very different problems. You have to look beyond the how and think about the why.

Little things can mean a lot

When we introduced a simple way for customers to submit and prioritise feature requests we suddenly began hearing from the majority of our customers; we were getting engagement from a whole swathe of users who we’d previously had little contact with. Yes, we’d onboarded them and reached out but there are small annoyances they come across in the day-to-day use of your product that they will simply never tell you about.

The reason for this is often users don’t feel the issue is big enough to contact you about through the usual channels - they forget to mention them when you’ve reached out or they are simply too busy to email you. And when you do talk, it’s often only the big features they tell you about; they won’t reel off the list of 10 - 15 small things that irritate them each day, it will be the next big development, the …it would be nice if the product did X.

The powerful thing about having a method to collect these little annoyances is that they can transform how your customers feel about your product. Those small improvements - the ones you don’t hear about through support - can collectively make a huge difference. It’s not just that little things can mean a lot, they really DO mean a lot.

We were shocked at how this revelation transformed the input customers have into our product roadmap. The importance of the 5 - 10 features customers were telling us they needed through support channels were no longer top of the list.

So what were they replaced with?

You guessed it…little issues. Most of which we had never, even heard of. And what was even more surprising is that these small issues tended to be an annoyance for masses of customers, not just one or two.

Often the same customers we had down as needing big features would prioritise several minor annoyances above bigger pieces of development. This meant we were able to quickly pick off a ton of small improvements that made a huge group of customers much happier when using our product every day.

Closing thoughts

So do be aware that your silent customers have something to tell you…not collecting the small issues can lead to customer feature requests becoming skewed by big ticket features and the most demanding or annoyed users of your product.

Search out the little issues and start making a difference to the loyal people who are using your software every day. Your churn rate will be grateful for it.

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I could have gone off on a tangent about customer success in this article. Something we are passionate about. However, I’ll leave that to Lincoln Murphy. Genius.