Feedback channels & tips every Product person should know about

Being product manager is an overwhelming job — then, there’s flurry of product asks. In this article we’ll talk about how to filter good product inputs from averages ones to become 10x Product Manager.

6 min readApr 18, 2022
Not every feature is worth building

As a product manager, you’d often be at the crossroad of deciding what to build (or, more importantly not to! ).

There are existing customers asking for changes in existing products, GTM / prospect will fail if you don’t promise them their blue eyed feature. And then, there’s org wide initiatives, hygiene items ( compliance, security, experience issues and metric instrumentation ). How do you decide?

Every product manager has their own method of solving the ultimate prioritisation / cross-product alignment problem but, the question remains — Is there a method to the madness?

In a conversation with our friend Ravi Madabhushi ( Director of product at Freshworks ), we dived deeper in this question. His thought process was so structured that it not only answered the question but also helped establish a structured approach to product planing — prioritisation and alignment.

Ravi says, there are largely 7 channels of product inputs for product managers. This can be a new functional request, improvements on existing product, may come from internal or external teams, existing or new customers.

Do all product inputs need same treatment or, should one look for specific insights across channel? Well, thumb rule says that product manager’s job starts at very early in the process — looking for signals by asking right questions.

Let’s see what product insight to look for across each channel:

Channel #1: Existing customers

These are users who use your product and find some degree of success with it. They are looking to get more value either by easing up the existing flow or, adding more use cases.

This can be as trivial as asking for a minor change or complete overhaul of the flow. Also, this customer can be just <7 days or >90 days using the product. And, if this change will impact experience for other uses.

Product insights to look for:

  1. Understand “why” do they need this change?
  2. How long the “customer” has been using the product?
  3. Is it possible with a workaround?
  4. Gauge criticality of the ask? Will they (leave) pay extra , if you (don’t) build this?
  5. Understand usage pattern from similar users / competitor? ( Mixpanel, Intercom do a great job there.)
  6. Make sure it doesn’t cannibalise other users’ experience. Check if any customer will leave if you do this.

Channel #2: Customer success teams

Customer success teams are usually part of SaaS products closely working with existing large ticket size customers to, well become more successful with the product. They are practically truest voice of customers since they don’t have pressure of sales-closure. Here’s how you can best product inputs from them:

Product insights to look for:

  1. Give this a high weightage if you are SaaS product with >$5,000 ACV to Mid market /Enterprise
  2. Is this feedback relevant to at least 40% of the other customer( 80:20 rule doesn’t apply here)
  3. If your product work with tenancy ( this feature can be enabled for interested customers ONLY).
  4. Will they pay extra (or churn), if you build this (or don’t) for them?

Channel #3 Prospects

This is your customer pipeline. In a SaaS business, these are users trialing your product whereas, in consumer product, they could have just downloaded an app.

Typically, these will be largest source of product inputs for you.

Product insights to look for:

  1. Make sure you let them float their voice ( in-app chat, customer support email/call options/access to Trello board etc.)
  2. Make sure to capture their stage and actions in the product ( completed the onboarding, activated, reached aha moment )
  3. Capture a pattern ( Are a lot of prospect not converting due to this ask? )

Channel #4 GTM teams: GTM teams in include product marketing, solution engineering, pre-sales, and sales ( I know, it’s a stretch but there’s a reason.).

While, you may have tried your best to capture user feedback within app, users will be venting their frustration about your product on Social media, in sales calls and such. Here’s how you can best leverage it:

Product insight to look for:

  1. Make sure there’s a structured channel/format for these inputs — Typeform, Support ticket format etc.
  2. Make sure these are NOT coming over email / chat. For ex- in Freshworks, I insisted all email/chat feedback to be resent as support ticket.
  3. These inputs are triaged on regular basis ( Fortnightly, monthly or, quarterly based on your product iteration cycle — sooner the better.)
  4. Communicate updates to the GTM team
  5. Let them update on the same thread

Channel #5 Company leadership

Oh boy, the elephant in the room. But, let me state this clearly — leadership has a holistic and long-time vision and they make decision to bring parity on strategic level across the board. Which may not seem priority at individual level but critical for the org.

Ex. In a mutli-product company, there can be product at different stage of maturity but items around — compliance, security, data ingestion need to be of same standard.

Channel #6 Development teams ( Design, copy, Engg, QA ):

These are folks working on previous product items and very likely has a good understanding of where flow breaks.

Due to time constraints, often shortcuts are taken and functional as well as tech level. While they may not have customer/use-case context but their feedback can be extremely valuable for enhancing experience, long term reliability.

Product insight to look for:

  1. Make sure dev teams can float their suggestions on product
  2. This should include design, copy, dev and QA
  3. Be aware of tech shortcuts ( not only tech debts) which enhances the experience
  4. Commit 20% of entire product bandwidth to this channel.

Channel #7 Hygiene tracks ( Experience, Metric instrumentation, Security, Compliance )

These items can come from various sources — org wide initiative, direct customer/GTM ask from existing customer / prospect. While, this comes as a critical ask all the time, as a product manager, you should be able to objectively prioritise this among rest of the product asks.

Product insights to look for:

  1. Are we losing (gaining) customers because of this compliance? Ex — GDPR compliance is a MUST for selling SaaS product in Europe. HIPAA is must for selling to healthcare companies in USA.
  2. Metric instrumentation MUST be part of the product go-live check list. ( More on this item in next blog.)
  3. Be very careful of customer communications — email, chat, notification. If you are not sure, consider it a “No”.
  4. Use off-the-shelf solutions for compliance instead of building in-house ( cookie control etc for GDPR compliance.)

Bonus track #8 Product Managers’ intuition

In a product company, Product Managers are at the centre of universe. While other functions — business, engineering may know better in their respective area — only a product manager know an item in it’s entirety.

Interestingly, this makes product manager smartest person in the room. Also, since their only deliverable is forming right product view and alignment ( no functional deliverable like — designing, coding, selling etc. ), they can make unbiased holistic decisions.

Product insights to look for:

  1. Back intuition with objective decisions (metric, framework, internal system, anything) — extremely helpful for cross-product/ functional alignment
  2. Over-Communicate: communicate separates a great product manager from good ones. Know your audience, anticipate their questions and address them.

Final words

Don’t build features; solve problems: Finally, remember that real contribution of a Product managers is not to “build features based on ask” but to solve problems. If /how that can be solved in the least effort (integration/ automation), that’s all that really matters.

Focus on your success metrics: At the end of every year, it is the metric that you own and improved for org is what counts. Everything else is peripheral ( good to do.)

Build a system and stick to it: When it really comes to prioritisation, we often have shifting dip-sticks, which creates ambiguity within the PM and across the team. We only think of these frameworks (RICE, value-effort etc.) during interview and never after that. Having a system to prioritise/ align product inputs, can help you become 10x product manager.

That’s all for now. Hope you find this helpful in collating and processing your product input.

Authored by

Ravi Madabhushi (Director of Product Freshworks Inc) in a conversation with Vipul Mishra (Product Manager Life At Flipkart , Ex- Freshworks Inc).




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