How We Use Customer Service for Rapid Product Development
Businesses can learn a thing or two from the film, Kung Fu Panda.
Really. Read on.
In the film, Po the panda was always looking for that special ingredient in life. The problem was that he never could find it.
This is much like the perennial challenge businesses face in differentiating themselves from the competition and developing truly popular goods/services.
In the film, Po discovered that ordinary things nurtured to perfection become extraordinary. Much is the same with business and developing great products. And the key to making the ordinary extraordinary is your customer support team.
Every day, your customer service team fields questions and feedback from customers. If this feedback is fed back to the product development team, the scope for meaningful product improvement is significant.
For companies like Agile CRM, this really is the secret ingredient. Listen to customers and give them what they want.
At Agile CRM, the product development team and customer service team is in constant communication to make sure the product and its upgrades are customer-centric. Every bit of feedback given by the customer is like a golden egg to us, and we strive to make the most of it.
We believe that the customer is in the best position to judge our product and suggest ways to make it better. Their evaluation about the product is accurate because they have first hand experience using it.
Here’s our process for connecting customer feedback with rapid product development (the “agile” in Agile CRM).
1. Refining Constant Feedback
Our support agents receive roughly 100 support tickets plus 30 customer calls per day. In all that chaos and ticket resolution, they keep tabs on the product feedback; once they close a ticket or finish a customer call, they input the feedback in the system and later refine it based on the relevancy, criticality and suitability.
The main criteria followed by every support rep when inputting customer feedback is ensuring that the feedback is pragmatic and actionable. Our reps also consider the product/feature rating provided by the customers to check how useful they are. This feedback is then sent to the product development team.
2. Brainstorming with the Product Development Team
Once the feedback is in place, both the product development and customer support teams have a discussion on what pointers are to be taken into consideration for the next upgrade. The support reps ensure that the development team understands the customer’s exact requirements and their pain points while using the product.
These discussions are held every day for 30 minutes where two sales reps meet the heads of the product development team. In these discussions the reps put forward their understanding about the customers’ concerns and feedback. So that based on these discussions, the development team can build product upgrades that not only improves the product but are also beneficial to the customers.
3. Display New Features
Because support reps are in constant contact with the customers, they market our new features/upgrades to the customers to gain knowledge on the usability. They display how certain upcoming features will work and reduce that extra manual work. The support reps have a saved active customer list with whom they discuss these new features/upgrades and demonstrate how these will work using screen sharing on a Skype call. Then they record the customer assessment, push this feedback on the development team table to evaluate and make necessary changes (if required).
4. Beta Program
We also apply “Beta program” to understand and monitor customer’s feedback on various crucial or in-demand upgrades/features. Our support reps have a defined list of 15-20 customers who receive the test links and over a period of 3 to 4 weeks we examine and evaluate their response on that upgrade/feature. Sometimes, we also encourage test volunteers who write to us to test the new feature.
By far, we had a very successful run using the Beta program for our important features such as Braintree, Email Builder and Helpdesk. Hitherto, our most successful and biggest Beta program was for Helpdesk, where we had more than 100 customers (volunteers included) who tested this feature and gave positive feedback.
Our teams understand that transparency is the key to develop an improved product. Hence, support reps are summoned for every product roadmap meeting to gain relevant insights about customer preferences. Being a small business, we maximize our potential using the resources available to us. That’s why support reps become the key resource for our product development team in creating the upgraded product.
Another resource that we utilize to gain better customer understanding is UserVoice. We post new feature/upgrade ideas on this platform and request our customers to rate these ideas. Based on their ratings, our product team learns the feature/upgrade that will benefit our customers the best and begins developing a feature along those lines. We believe that product development is a continuous process and keep adjusting our strategies accordingly.