July 9, 2020

How to Integrate Customer Feedback in the Product Development Cycle

More than ever, listening to customer needs and adopting a customer-centric approach are hallmarks of good business. Listening to your customers is not a one-time activity; there are multiple ways of capturing customers’ feedback along the development cycle that will improve your process and final product.

Approach pre-development from the customers’ perspective.

Everything begins with the customer. What do we know about their challenges? What are their pain points? What is the real problem here? We need to know where we are coming from to define where we are heading.

There is no specific area in which to capture feedback; it can come from everywhere: employees, customers themselves, leadership, and partners.

Begin by capturing all of the feedback in an ‘’ideas’’ backlog that you can organize and prioritize. Put together a panel of users/customers to be your go-to —they can be part of the development cycle by validating along the way. We call it a ‘’customers’ advisory group’’ and it is an invaluable resource for development.

Engage your panel/advisory by sending them a survey with the main ideas or asking the challenges they are facing. Perform your metrics analysis regularly in order to identify trends and customer pain points.

Heatmaps are another great tool for understanding customers’ behaviors. All too often, there are discrepancies between what we think the problem is and what it actually is. Heatmaps provide a quick way to analyze interaction with specific parts of the page.

Eye-tracking tools can also help you understand a user’s interest in a page, what attracts their attention first, how they scan the page, and what should be put first.

Inform conceptualization with customer feedback.

Designers and product managers often come up with new features or ideas for enhancements, but these are no replacement for customer-informed development. The experience and expertise on your team can actually be a bias.

Going back to the advisory group or other customers is important. During the conceptualization process, customers can be touched three times:

  • With a storyboard and a sketch of the concept to validate your understanding of the issue and how to get it resolved.
  • A low fidelity prototype, showing customers the different steps of the new process.
  • A clickable or high-fidelity prototype, being the exact experience of what could be the end product.

During the prototype phase, customers can be addressed online via tools dedicated to user testing or offline via interviews that can also integrate a combination of online scenarios and a conversation. Each step allows for the refinement of the concept and validation of the benefits of the development to come.

Involve customers in features development.

You can involve customers even during the software development cycle by presenting the advancements after each sprint. Doing so is also a way to make sure the product is going to get adoption once released. Too many products are unsuccessful not because they are not good, but because the timing or other conditions were not right for adoption.

Implement mini User Adoption Testing (UAT) after each sprint cycle as a best practice. At the end of the development cycle comes the final UAT, which consists of an end-to-end test of the product following specific use cases and hence responding to specific scenarios and pain points.

Customers can provide valuable feedback post-development.

The product release does not mean that we are done with customers’ feedback.

During the first months of the product’s life, use a feedback button to drive more attention to the changes and show customers how the organization values their feedback. Go back to your metrics and analyze the impact of the new product.

Never stop learning what customers need and how they interact with applications. Test and learn via A/B tests and multivariate testing, which should be an integral part of continuous development and making sure we optimize tools to their greatest potential.

The development cycle begins and ends with customers.  Not sure how or where to get started? Get in touch with the Product Strategy & Innovation team at Method and let’s see how we can get your development cycle moving in the right direction.