7 Tips For Reviewing Every Customer Idea — In 24 Hours
Nearly 9,000 ideas. That is how many requests the Aha! community has shared since we launched our ideas portal back in 2014. We consider this a gift. Although not every product idea will make the cut — each one is valued. And so it is important to us to review every single one. Put simply, we commit time each week to make this happen. But we have also discovered some shortcuts to make the work lighter — such as setting up automation rules and using our product value scorecard. An efficient process leaves room for the product team to lead with curiosity and respond thoughtfully to new ideas.
It is possible to reach "inbox zero" on customer ideas and examine requests closely instead of just checking off each one.
Product managers are responsible for guiding the success of a product. But you are not the sole proprietor of innovation. Giving a voice to your community — customers, colleagues, partners, and others — encourages everyone to have a stake in the product. And when you gather ideas directly from users, you can better understand how to address their challenges and needs.
One of the easiest ways to improve idea management is to crowdsource feedback in a central place like an Aha! ideas portal. Consolidating ideas makes it easy to view, organize, and tag them as you like — then promote the best ones directly to your roadmap. Of course, not every idea will be a strategic fit and that is okay too. It is equally important to review and respond so folks understand why you will not be moving forward.
Driving innovation starts with encouraging your community to contribute their ideas freely. Then you can determine which requests are worth investing in and where they fit in your product plans.
Even with a central place to gather feedback, the idea management process requires significant time and effort. Our own product team knows this investment well so we wanted to share some tips you can implement using Aha! Ideas and Ideas Advanced to smooth out your process:
Keep it simple
Meet people where they are. Some folks will want to submit ideas directly to your portal. Others might find it easier to submit ideas while they are using your app or talking to your sales and support teams. You can set up an in-app feedback widget and connect Aha! to Salesforce, Zendesk, and other third-party tools. Bonus: when you integrate with Salesforce, you can also sync account and opportunity data to better understand the customers and business value behind each idea.
Set a goal
Goals drive action. Establish a measurable goal the whole team can rally behind. At Aha! we aim for radical responsiveness. With idea management, that looks like leaving zero ideas that need review at the end of each week. Hone in on a goal that is ambitious, measurable, and ties back to your overall company strategy.
Create a workflow that represents the main idea statuses and decision points in your process. For instance, we use statuses to communicate when an idea is under review or likely to be implemented — we have added a portal resources page to explain our process to customers. You can share documentation for your own idea review process using custom portal pages in Aha! Ideas Advanced.
Share responsibilities across the product team. Our team holds an ideas portal rotation — folks on call respond to new requests and aim to end each week with zero ideas unreviewed. Each team member follows the same guidelines for reviewing, tagging, and promoting ideas that are worth discussing in our weekly team meetings. We created automation rules that assign ideas to individual product managers based on the idea category. This is particularly useful if different product managers own specific areas of functionality.
It is usually easier to tidy small amounts frequently rather than letting chaos pile up. So keep idea categories updated and merge similar ideas as you spot them. (The latter also gives you a more accurate sense of the total number of votes for a given idea.) Invite customer-facing teams to hop in and refresh any ideas based on new information from customers.
Sometimes you spot a brilliant idea and immediately know it should be promoted to a feature. Other times value is harder to discern. In either case, be sure to quantify the value of each feature against the metrics that matter to your business. We use the Aha! product value scorecard to rank ideas by impact, importance, and alignment with our strategy against the effort to implement. You can also create reports that list ideas and their value score during each stage of your review process — to ensure scores are updated and reviewed at key points.
Being super responsive to customers encourages them to continue sharing. Our goal is to help our customers understand whether or not we are likely to implement an idea. Clear is kind, even if that means a clear no. If we are unlikely to implement an idea, we add an admin comment in our portal to share our reasoning and any workaround. Every time we change an idea's status or add an admin comment, everyone who voted or commented on that idea will get alerted about the update via automatic notifications.
By including your customers in your product development lifecycle, they will be more likely to keep sharing feedback — leading to a better product and happier users.
A final note: Many teams also define an SLA for each step in their idea review cycle to ensure they are meeting their goals. While ours is reaching "inbox zero" on customer ideas by the end of each week, yours might be to evaluate or reply to each idea within a different amount of time. If you set a goal like this for your product team, we would love to hear about it. Better yet, tell us how we can improve your Aha! product experience — leave an idea in the Aha! ideas portal.