5 ways Productboard can help you conduct better product discovery
Product discovery with Productboard to mitigate product risk
There’s a lot of uncertainty and risk when it comes to building products. We like to think we know our customers and their needs, but it’s easy to go astray unless we take the time to regularly check in with them and validate our ideas as we go. This is why product discovery is just as important — if not more so — than delivery.
Product discovery is a learning process that helps product teams refine their ideas by deeply understanding real user problems and then landing on the best way to solve them. Discovery is critical because it helps you minimize the risk and costs around building the wrong thing.
Discovery can look a little different at each company, but generally it involves steps like:
- Uncovering underlying user needs through qualitative and quantitative methods like user research, observation, customer interviews, data analytics, competitive research, empathy mapping, etc.
- Clearly defining user needs by framing them as problems, validating that these problems are worth solving, and prioritizing which problems you’ll tackle first
- Identifying the optimal solution through ideation, mockups, prototyping
- Testing to determine whether your proposed solutions can actually solve the problems you’ve chosen to focus on through solution interviews (watching users interact with a prototype or early version of a product), beta testing, or close analysis of data following release
This might sound like a lot of work — and it is — but remember, the alternative is investing a lot of time and money into building something that your customers don’t actually want or use.
And, luckily, Productboard’s product management system can help you streamline and structure your discovery activities. Let’s take a look at some of the main ways Productboard supports product discovery.
1. Collect feedback from customers and segment trends and themes in Insights
Without a dedicated system for capturing user feedback, you usually only have time to explore a few select ideas to learn more about underlying needs, if at all. This means you risk missing opportunities, or else prioritizing (or even working on) features without a firm understanding of the real problem you’re solving. It’s a recipe for delivering the wrong features or time-intensive iteration rather than building the right solution the first time.
On the Insights board in Productboard, you have a centralized feedback repository for collecting feedback on an ongoing basis. This feedback arrives from many integrated sources with other tools like support platforms, CRMs, messaging solutions, sales tools, and CRMs.
Capture customer feedback from a broad range of sources in Productboard.
Having one centralized location for collecting feedback makes life easier for everyone in the product organization. “Now, everyone understands there’s one unified location in Productboard where all customer and stakeholder feedback lives,” says Shira Bauman, Senior Manager of Product Operations at Zapier. “Additionally, teams have clear expectations on how data should be used and triaged.” (Read Zapier’s story here.)
You can then review feedback to identify interesting user insights and link them to related feature ideas, or take advantage of Productboard’s intelligent capabilities for automatically distilling trends in large volumes of feedback—called “smart topic detection.”
The ability to pull out trends and themes and segment feedback in a meaningful way allows you to identify relevant feedback and actionable insights. This is how teams can do continuous discovery in a scalable way and ensure every customer conversation or touchpoint contributes to the shared learning of the organization.
Productboard can automatically distill recurring topics from large amounts of feedback.
While the product team is likely to spend a substantial amount of time reviewing feedback and analyzing trends, product leaders may also want to periodically check the Insights trends dashboard to easily see which topics are trending in customer feedback.
2. Narrow in on a few ideas and filter them on the Features board
For many, “product discovery” really begins when you start narrowing down what ideas you’re interested in pursuing and researching them further to ensure you understand the user need you’d be solving.
Productboard helps you do this with user impact scores, which show you the features that are requested by the most users. You can also filter this for individual customer segments, e.g. “Show me the top-requested features by Enterprise companies with more than 1,000 employees paying us more than $5,000 a month.”
The Features board allows you to sort ideas by user impact score and even filter to see what matters to specific segments, as defined by data from CRMs and product analytics solutions like Amplitude and Mixpanel.
Getting all of your feedback organized this way can bring a whole new perspective to your discovery. Ted Burns, VP of Product at digitally connected inhaler company Propeller Health, has seen this firsthand. After adopting Productboard, product managers at Propeller Health observed nearly 40 user requests for a notification that would show clinicians when a patient had first synced their Propeller inhaler sensor with their phone. “Seeing almost 40 [user insights] attached to a feature idea makes it really easy to point to as the thing to build next because you’ve had so many inbounds come in,” Ted says.
3. Get the full context of feature requests whenever you need it
Next, as you zero in on the ideas you want to discover further, Productboard helps by showing all the user insights associated with every feature idea. Reviewing these insights alone can give you a lot of clues into the underlying need— especially because you can navigate from each insight back to the original source of the feedback.
For example, let’s say you have one insight that’s linked to a feature idea that says “User wants a Salesforce integration.” When you navigate back to the full feedback captured on the Insights board (which might be something like a support ticket sent into Productboard from Zendesk), you can see even more context. The user says their real goal is to help sales reps capture feature requests from prospects and send them to the product team.
When you’re interested in learning more about a feature request from a customer, you can navigate back to their original request to get more context.
What if you want even more feedback? Easy. You know who this user is and have their email address captured in Productboard, so you can easily follow up with them to ask more questions or schedule a conversation. And you can do the same with everyone else who has expressed a similar need in the past since their insights are also linked to this feature idea in Productboard.
4. Gather more feedback from stakeholders in the Product Portal
The Product Portal (we also just refer to it as “the Portal”) is an interface you can share with colleagues and customers to showcase what’s planned, collect votes and feedback on ideas, and source new requests. It’s a great way to both earn buy-in for where your product is headed and validate feature ideas before you work on them.
The Portal continuously collects customers’ feedback and votes in the background and you can refer to it anytime you want to explore an idea further.
The Portal allows you to do this type of discovery very efficiently, at scale. Since the Portal is continuously collecting your stakeholders’ votes and feedback on feature ideas for you in the background, you have far more user insights already on hand when you decide to explore any ideas further. But you can also use the Portal to easily follow up with every user who has ever expressed a need for a feature, whether they did so via the Portal or through some other feedback channel like email, a Gainsight PX in-app feedback widget, or Zendesk support ticket.
With the Portal card update feature, you can email all users who’ve expressed a need for some feature. And you can even include a call-to-action to provide more information about their need, provide feedback on early feature designs, sign up for a product discovery interview, or join a product beta. This can be done by including a link to a Google form or survey in the update you email out.
In the Portal, you can follow up with all customers who’ve expressed a need for a specific feature and even prompt them to provide more feedback, participate in a discovery interview, or join a product beta.
This process creates a virtuous cycle where customers are much more likely to evangelize your product and provide more feedback once they see that you’re actually listening and acting on the feedback they’ve already shared. Guillaume Roy, Co-founder and Director of Product at GSoft, puts it this way:
“Our end goal is always to position the customer as the champion. So, when they know we are responsive to their feedback, when they see we incorporated their ideas throughout our product journey, they will increase usage and think to recommend us.”
5. Extend product discovery beyond feature launch
Usually product managers consider product discovery as a process that ends when you actually begin working on a feature, or certainly when you deliver the feature to customers. But what if it didn’t end there? What if you could follow up with customers immediately after a feature goes live, as they’re using the feature for the first time?
At Productboard’s recent Product Excellence Summit, SVP of Product Srinivas Krishnamurti shared his vision for how Productboard can help teams understand the impact of recently shipped features through SatisMeter, a survey solution and feedback platform recently acquired by Productboard. This is just one more way you’d be able to collect feedback on features and rapidly iterate on early versions of a solution to ensure you’re solving customer needs in the best possible way.
SatisMeter allows you to quickly survey and collect feedback from customers and can be used to extend discovery activities after you’ve launched a new feature.
Bonus: Apply a continuous discovery framework with Productboard
We’ve quickly looked at key discovery activities in this post (and you can explore them in more detail in this guide to product discovery process and techniques), but if you’re brand new to the idea of discovery, you might find it helpful to apply a framework like Teresa Torres’s opportunity solution tree. This will help you keep track of your discovery activities and eliminate some (but not all!) of the messiness that comes along with product discovery.
Want to give it a try yourself? Productboard Community Lead Scott Baldwin shares how to use Productboard to build an opportunity solution tree in this post from the Product Makers community.