All teams within customer-centric organizations rely on customer feedback to do their work. It’s the only way to ensure that you are building a product and business that solves real customer problems.
However, each team leverages customer feedback differently:
- Product teams are interested in customer feedback about specific parts of the product.
- Marketing teams want to understand the top product benefits and value propositions.
- Customer support teams seek feedback on how satisfied customers are with their interactions.
In the past ten years, growth teams have emerged between product and marketing. Growth teams are comprised of marketers, product managers, designers, engineers, and data scientists. Their goal is to improve the customer experience in ways that also drive tremendous business growth.
Growth teams have unique ways of incorporating customer feedback into their work. The details below are based upon my experience running growth teams at large consumer internet businesses.
The difference between growth teams and product teams
Before getting into how growth teams use customer feedback, it’s helpful to understand the difference between growth and product teams. The skillsets found on both teams are similar, but goals and processes are very different.
Product teams are responsible for building new products. Examples include new checkout flows, rating systems, and search functionality.
In contrast, growth teams are responsible for improvements to the existing product. Examples include removing form fields, adding guest checkout, and optimizing search algorithms.
The processes used by traditional product teams and growth teams differ substantially. As a result, growth teams leverage customer feedback differently than typical product teams.
How growth teams work
The typical growth team process can be divided into four steps.
These steps are optimized to maximize focus and learning—two keys of growth team success:
- Prior to each quarter, there is a broad brainstorm to identify potential focus areas or themes for the upcoming quarter
- The team completes an analysis to select the most promising focus area for the quarter
- An initial set of experiments is documented and prioritized
- The rest of the quarter, the team runs experiments, measures results, learns, and prioritizes new experiments
What types of customer feedback do growth teams use during this process?
Growth teams succeed by finding product improvements that positively impact the customer experience. In most cases, the best way to understand how to improve the customer experience is by listening to customer feedback.
Growth teams use several sources of customer feedback throughout the process outlined above. However, different types of customer feedback are utilized in each step.
Customer feedback used while selecting the focus area each quarter
A few weeks before the quarter starts, growth teams aggregate customer feedback and other data from various sources.
At this stage, it’s wise to gather information from as many sources as possible:
- NPS surveys
- Customer support tickets
- Live chat logs
- Marketing channels
- Feature request boards
- Google Analytics
- Business intelligence tools
NPS surveys are a good starting point. They capture the most common sources of customer dissatisfaction, and quantify severity. Customer support tickets and live chat logs are also good sources of feedback.
Feature requests are another valuable feedback source. Grouping feature requests into categories is one way to identify promising product areas. The most requested features are worth consideration. If customers request a feature that already exists, that’s a good signal that the growth team should focus on those features.
Google Analytics can be used to identify major gaps in the product experience.
Questions to investigate using Google Analytics include:
- Do certain steps of the funnel that account for the majority of customer drop off?
- Does the product perform worse on certain devices or for certain customer segments?
- Are there certain user flows or pages that perform better or worse than others?
The goal of this analysis is to identify the largest product gaps and business opportunities. Interviewing customers is a productive way to validate the final list of potential focus areas before making a selection.
Customer feedback used while brainstorming initial experiments
Once the growth team has selected its focus area for the quarter, the next step is to brainstorm an initial list of experiments. The top experiments from this list will kick off the quarter’s growth efforts.
To brainstorm the list, growth teams do a deep dive to gather all customer feedback and data specific to the focus area.
For example, if the focus area is the company’s mobile web experience, the team should:
- Pull all NPS responses that mention the mobile experience
- Collect all customer support tickets and chat logs related to mobile
- Look at Google Analytics data for the mobile experience
- Do user interviews about mobile
The goal of this exercise is to identify potential reasons why the product underperforms in the chosen area. Perhaps mobile conversion rate is low because it’s difficult to navigate the checkout page. Or, mobile might underperform because the majority of visitors come from social media channels and land on dead-end blog pages.
Experiments are generally prioritized based on expected impact. Experiments that have high potential impact, are easy to implement, and are very likely to work should be at the top of the list.
Customer feedback while iterating on experiments
After launching the first experiments, the team enters into an iterative experimentation process.
The process steps are:
- Measure experiment results
- Identify learnings
- Re-prioritize new experiments
- Launch new experiments
This part of the process is all about speed and learning. Unlike traditional product teams, growth teams have to move quickly in between experiments. As a result, they tend to rely on experiment results and a handful of customer interviews to select their next experiments.
This need for rapid iteration also places a premium on organization. Growth teams that build streamlined processes maximize the number of experiments they can launch in a given quarter. Software tools can also add considerable value. Canny is an example of a system that organizes data. This enables the team to spend more time building, launching and learning from experiments.
For growth teams, customer feedback is invaluable
Customer feedback is extremely important for growth teams. In the long-run, working to satisfy your customers and grow your business go hand in hand.
The amount of feedback that is available today is a double-edged sword. But, having organized processes in place (and using a tool to help you manage feedback) can make the process easier, and help growth teams succeed.