6 steps to revive a failed feedback program

6 steps to revive a failed feedback program

This article was written by Matt Goodman. Matt has years of experience as a Product Manager, and currently works as a Sr. Solutions Architect as a part of Productboard’s Professional Services team.

“Our feedback feels like it is going into a black hole.” – Customer Success Manager

“Our stakeholders don’t give us enough context when submitting feedback.” – Product Manager

Do these words sound familiar? If so, then you’ve likely tried to set up a feedback program that for a variety of reasons hasn’t been successful. This is common across many Product organizations who are starting to become more mature and recognize the need for a robust feedback program between go-to-market (GTM) teams and Product.

The good news is that it’s not too late to restart your feedback program, and we have a guide to make sure it’s done right this time!

Here are 6 steps to ensure you are able to successfully revive your feedback program.

Step 1: Get feedback on the program itself

Start by taking inventory of the performance of your program. What’s working well? What isn’t? One good way to start this process is to send out a survey, both to GTM stakeholders and Product teams. Alternatively, you can also run a series of retrospect meetings with these teams to collect the feedback you’ll need to decide how best to proceed.

With your GTM stakeholders, a few of the probing questions you’ll want to dig into include:

  1. Are you able to surface feedback easily? How confident do you feel that the product team is actioning your feedback in some shape or form?
  2. How knowledgeable do you feel about our product roadmap? Can you find information easily to be informed about our roadmap? 

If the answers to these questions imply customer facing teams don’t feel their feedback is taken seriously, then you have a big problem on your hands. Even beyond the feedback program, GTM stakeholders are in many cases amplifying the voice-of-customer, so if they don’t feel like the feedback they’re sending is being actioned on, can you confidently say your Product teams are listening to your customers? Ensuring the feedback of your customers is not only listened to, but also a part of your prioritization process is key to ensuring your Product team is truly customer-centric.

On the flip side, Product teams may also have problems adopting a feedback program where they feel like feedback being sent from your stakeholders is lacking the necessary business context needed.

It is important to dig into concerns from both the GTM teams and your Product teams to ensure both sides feel heard, and to understand how you can revive your feedback program with a focus on two key components:

  1. Ensuring that all feedback submitted is done in a way that requires the desired outcomes and business context the customer is hoping to drive. This ensures that the Product team has a much stronger understanding of the problem space.
  2. Making sure that GTM teams are provided the transparency to know exactly how the prioritization process works within your organization, and how customer feedback is taken into account.  Provide the tools and resources to easily pull an up-to-date roadmap filtered by their specific customers to help them guide roadmap discussions, without needing to loop in limited Product Management resources.

Step 2: Gauge your Product <-> Stakeholder relationships

Do your Product teams speak regularly with their GTM counterparts from Support, Customer Success, Professional Services, etc.? The larger your organization, the more concern there should be that your teams work in silos. Even the best Product team cannot build a high-quality product that responds to the needs of their customers without being in touch with those customers. And often the best way to do that is to work with your GTM teams! 

Illustration showing how Product teams get bombarded with feedback. Utilizing GTM teams makes the management of this feedback at scale much more manageable

Illustration showing how Product teams get bombarded with feedback. Utilizing GTM teams makes the management of this feedback at scale much more manageable.

A few ideas we’ve implemented here at Productboard to ensure our customer facing teams are on the same page as our Product team, and the flow of feedback comes through with minimal friction:

    • Institute a voice-of-customer program where representatives from your customer facing teams collect the top ideas or trends from customers to surface to the Product team. This can be done quarterly or every other quarter depending on your industry to ensure the voice-of-customer remains fresh.
    • Open a Product channel on Slack or Teams where GTM teams can ask questions about the future plans of the Product. Think of this as a place where your teams can comfortably AMA (ask me anything) to your Product team.
      • Note: This should not be used as a venue to ask questions that can be resolved by your help center or support team.
    • Ramp up a Product Buddy program where each Product Manager is matched with a representative from Customer Success and/or Professional Services. 
      • Benefits for Product Team: Have a resource who can provide dedicated insight into a particular area of the Product including adoption challenges, areas of optimization, and future opportunity ideas.
      • Benefits for Customer Facing Teams: Get closer to the Product so you can better speak to the strategic plans of the product, and have an opportunity to influence the long-term roadmap.

Step 3: Get executive buy-in and alignment

Executives work together to set the strategic vision and priorities for your organization. If teams are not communicating well, it’s important to identify this challenge and have a plan to remedy it. In order to successfully revive your feedback program, leaders from your Product and GTM teams will need to make a proposal as to the purpose of the program, why it’s currently failing, and how to get it back on track.

Once your executive stakeholders are bought into reviving this program and the go-forward plan, they should make an announcement at an all-hands or monthly department meeting expressing the importance of this program and ensuring it is re-established as a priority. Executive involvement out of the starting gate is key to ensure the program starts with strong adoption, and your executive stakeholders should at a minimum stay informed of overarching initiatives within the program and the overall performance of how the relaunch is going.

Step 4: Define a program charter to set and align on expectations

Now that teams are bought into reviving your feedback program, it’s important to create a program charter that aligns everybody from GTM and Product teams around the roles and responsibilities for ensuring this program is successful.

Some important questions you’ll need to consider:

    • How will feedback be shared?
    • How often will Product teams review this feedback and how will GTM teams be able to view where their submitted feedback is in the product lifecycle?
    • What’s the plan with older feedback? Will we integrate it into this new system? Start fresh? Just import top feedback and ignore the rest? 
      • Note: Many organizations have strong opinions about what to do with older feedback. While I’m in the camp of importing your top feedback only, there really isn’t a wrong approach as long as everyone is on the same page.
    • Will there be regular program meetings to ensure early issues are resolved and risks are managed?
      • For the first few months, I’d recommend more regular meetings such as bi-weekly. As the program becomes more stable over time, you can shift the meeting cadence to monthly or even quarterly.

Make sure the program charter that answers these questions is visible to all teams who are impacted by the changes, and ensure the message is consistent across different channels, meetings, etc.

Step 5: Clearly define the new process for submitting and reviewing feedback

Feedback must be structured and certain fields need to be required. There is no wiggle room on this statement. Anecdotally, most of the customers I’ve worked with who have tried and failed to run a feedback program have allowed stakeholders to submit feedback from a variety of different locations with often relaxed or non-existent structure required.

To keep it simple, in order to have a successful feedback program, feedback must:

  1. Be structured
  2. Ensure high-value fields can be set as required
  3. At a minimum, include the customer’s company name and business outcome they’re trying to solve for.

I’ve put together some resources with the support of the rest of the Professional Services team to provide a few options to submit structured feedback into Productboard utilizing your existing ecosystem:

It is important that once this high-quality feedback makes its way into Productboard that your Product team is able to review the feedback on a regular basis. For most teams, this will be done on a weekly basis. This may vary depending on the size of your organization and amount of feedback you regularly receive. One interesting idea I’ve seen from a couple of organizations that are still scaling is to have a rotating ownership of feedback triaging from the Product team. This reduces the time commitment of regular triaging, and has the added benefit of helping to uplevel your Product team about all the feedback coming in across the different portfolios, not just in their own Product domain. 

A key aspect of triaging feedback is to tie the feedback to the relevant feature as seen below, and set a priority score based on how important the idea is to the customer:

Setting a priority score in Productboard

This will benefit your organization in two ways:

1. You will be able to take this feedback and use it as part of your prioritization process in the form of the User Impact Score. Prioritizing must include User Impact Score as it acts as your voice-of-customer, and if you’re not deciding what to build with the customer in mind, then you will often have trouble with growing and retaining your customer base.

Screenshot of Productboard

2. Your GTM teams can actually filter on shared roadmaps to see where features are on the roadmap for the specific companies they’re managing. This ensures everyone remains on the same page, and will ensure your customer facing teams can easily share a roadmap that shows a customer how their feedback has been used to inform the Product direction.

Screenshot of Productboard

Step 6: Iterate, iterate, iterate!

Iteration is the key to continuous improvement! Once you’ve successfully restarted your feedback program, it will be key to identify risks, see what is working, and fix areas that aren’t. In order to produce a successful feedback program, iteration is key! 


Click here to learn more about Customer Success Stories with using Productboard’s feedback capabilities. If you are interested in partnering with folks like me to help you drive change in your organization, please visit our Professional Services page for more information.

You might also like

Areas of opportunity for product managers in 2023 (& how Productboard can help)
Company & Product

Areas of opportunity for product managers in 2023 (& how Productboard can help)

Dottie Schrock
Dottie Schrock
Deliver on customer needs faster with continuous insights
Company & Product

Deliver on customer needs faster with continuous insights

Productboard Editorial
Productboard Editorial
Don’t let these 6 product nightmares terrorize you — Productboard is here to help
Company & Product

Don’t let these 6 product nightmares terrorize you — Productboard is here to help

Productboard Editorial
Productboard Editorial