The response so far has been incredible:
— Ashish Krishna (@specx) September 14, 2016
— Rob Go (@robgo) September 14, 2016
— Cristina Knellinger (@CSKnellinger) September 16, 2016
And my personal favorite:
— Mattermark Daily (@mattermarkdaily) September 16, 2016
After these responses started coming in, my manager Dave (that guy who sends you emails) messaged me and was like, “Yo. People dig the framework.”
And I was like, “Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Now I feel like we need to showcase some real-world examples of when we got customer feedback and used it to make improvements to our own product, you know? Because it’s one thing to have a framework and to talk about being customer-driven, but it’s another thing to be able to point to concrete examples of when we’ve actually taken customer feedback and made real changes.”
Dave had a point.
Describing how a process works in theory is fine, but this definitely isn’t something we need to be talking about abstractly.
The Drift team was built around the principle of being customer-driven.
We’re regularly chatting with customers and prospective customers in real-time, on our website, using our own live chat product.
And when we receive feedback about our product, which happens on a daily basis, it all inevitably ends up in front of Drift product manager Matt Bilotti.
Interview With the Product Manager
It’s Matt’s job to figure out which feedback to take immediate action upon, which feedback to flat-out ignore, and which feedback to ignore temporarily but keep an eye on.
When you have hundreds of suggestions coming in, this type of prioritization can be a tough nut to crack.
So, how does Matt know when a particular piece of feedback has reached critical mass, and that a product update is likely in order?
I asked him.
Unless your business is comprised of 20, high-value enterprise customers, you’re not going to make an update if only one or two customers suggest something. When you’re a SaaS platform or an commerce platform with hundreds or thousands of customers, getting the same piece of feedback from one or two customers is good to know, but it isn’t necessarily enough to justify prioritizing that over some other improvement.
But if you get to a point where you hear the feedback once, then you hear it twice the next week, then you hear it three or four times the week after that, and so on—that’s a sign. As soon as you start seeing a suggestion scale with your growth (e.g. you’re growing 10x, and the suggestion for something is staying pretty consistent with that growth), that’s when you know it’s time to work on it.”
My follow-up question for Matt:
Can you share a few examples of when the Drift product team identified that a suggestion was scaling and took action to address it in the product?
Wish you could have your live chat widget appear on your site only when visitors are from a particular geographic region?
Welp, a lot of Drift customers felt the same way. Here are a couple examples of real feedback we received about it:
As Matt explained to me, “In the early days of Drift, we had just a few targeting conditions, like URL, number of site visits, and browser type. But then we had a bunch of people saying, ‘Hey, I only operate in a single country, can you make it so I can target Drift only at certain locations?’ or ‘Hey, I want to run a meet up in a certain state, can I only target Massachusetts?’”
At first, the team was hearing this suggestion about twice a month. But that wasn’t enough to prioritize it. As Matt told me, “It wasn’t enough to prove that working on geo-targeting was more important than the other things we were hearing about more often and working on.”
But eventually the frequency of feedback picked up, and once it did, Matt knew it was time for a feature update.
We were getting 200 conversations per week, and three were about this—that’s 1.5% of all conversations requesting geo-targeting. And then you have to abstract that out to consider that 1.5% of people who were writing in were suggesting this. But for every one person who’s saying something to you through chat, or through your support inbox, or through your sales and marketing inbox, there are 10 other people who showed up, looked for the feature, saw it wasn’t there, and just didn’t give a shit, then they left and now they’re gone forever.
As a general rule, Matt believes that if there’s one person suggesting something, there’s anywhere between 10 and 100 people who feel the same way but aren’t saying anything.
“So when you hear these kinds of suggestions, they’re really important. The suggestions you’re consistently hearing more and more often are always going to be the ones that win.”
And for Matt, this all ties into using Responsive Development principles:
We move quickly. We’re not locking ourselves into what we’re building over the next three or four weeks. Because we need to be able to stay tuned to the growth of the suggestions for things that we would otherwise push off. It’s not only having live chat that’s important, it’s having a product process that’s open and willing to focus on things that are coming up more often—as opposed to having a three-month roadmap.
Driftbot is our chatbot which arose from a common objection that people had to using live chat: handling volume.
Here’s our sales rep Kevin chatting about the problem internally:
As Matt explained, “We were hearing from people who had lots of website traffic. And they’d say, ‘Oh, this sounds cool, I kind of want to do it …’ but then they’d stop themselves and ask, ‘How do I handle the volume? Will we have to hire another person? What about all these chats coming in that aren’t that useful?’”
And that’s where our chatbot was born.
Driftbot was born out of this objection that we kept hearing, this blocker that was stopping people the most: handling the volume and making sure the conversations were qualified. So we built the bot as a way to help all those people who were saying, ‘Hey, I want this, it’s great, but I want to make sure that I’m not overwhelmed or wasting my time with useless chats.’
Driftbot solves these issues by serving as an intelligent switchboard for incoming chats. Instead of being immediately routed to a person, website visitors first have a quick conversation with Driftbot to figure out who the best person is for them to talk to.
The point isn’t to replace human-to-human conversation with a chatbot, it’s to facilitate it. Driftbot helps ensure website visitors get connected to the right people in your organization (e.g. Sales, Support, Marketing) so everyone can use their time more productively.
The angle that we came from was based on the things that customers were actually saying. It was based on the problem. It was based on the reason people weren’t using our product in the first place, which makes the end result, Driftbot, a genuine feature that is honest to the thing it’s trying to solve. We didn’t build it for the sake of building it. People were telling us that this problem was stopping them from using our product, so we developed the best solution possible for that problem.
3) A bunch of little things
Alright, so this example doesn’t really fit the mold of the first two, but it needs mentioning.
There’s a misconception that being customer-driven means you’re constantly adding new features and making massive changes to your product based on customer feedback.
In reality, those bigger updates — like adding new features, or, say, building a chatbot — are rare. The majority of the time, being customer-driven is about making little fixes and incremental updates based on what you’re hearing day-to-day.
And thanks to live chat + Responsive Development, we’re able to deliver a level of customer service at Drift that isn’t possible in a traditional Waterfall or Agile product environment. Here’s how Matt explained it:
Most people in this world are used to the following: you see a problem, you send an email into support, you get the automatic responder thanking you, and then maybe you hear back in the next two days. And when you do hear back, someone just says, “Hey, thanks so much for letting us know, I’ll pass it along to the engineering team.” Chances are you’ll never hear about it again. Then maybe, one day, you’ll go in and it’s changed in the product.
But because we use live chat, when people write in we can get back to them day of with solutions. People have access to us, they can reach us, and we’re actually going to help if something isn’t working right. Granted, we can’t do something about every single thing that every single person writes in. But if something’s broken, we’re here. And we’re people. That sort of instant response and feedback is what makes us different –when we get back to them the day of with a fix, it blows people’s minds.
If you showed up to our door and said, “Hey, I can’t use your product right now,” we’re not going to tell you, “Hey, you know what, thanks — you can leave a note we’ll get back to you within 24 hours and then we’ll figure it out.” With live chat, you can’t send people away. It forces you to be more customer-driven. You actually have to follow-through.
With live chat, you’re not only able to listen, but you’re also able to have 1:1 conversations with customers so you can start digging deeper.
As Matt told me:
With live chat, you can start suggesting things. You can start crafting the solution with the customer. “If we had this, would this help solve it? Do you have any other ideas? If you had a magic wand, what would be the perfect solution for this?” You get to have this dialogue, which I fundamentally believe creates a better outcome. It creates a better solution for the problem. Because then we’re not in a place where we’re just building things behind closed doors, with no outside line to the customer. It makes things so much easier to get right the first time because of all those other layers that you get out of a conversation.
If you don’t have live chat, you’re missing out on all these incredibly valuable conversations that can help you A) understand the angle of the problem or the suggestion from the customer, and B) validate potential solutions along side them while you’re talking to them.
Ultimately, being able to rapidly respond to your customers’ day-to-day concerns, and being able to swiftly squash bugs as they arise, will likely earn you more goodwill than having some massive product overhaul every few months.
So while you should always be on the lookout for feature-related feedback, especially as it starts occurring more and more frequently, don’t ignore the little things, like broken links, or even typos.
Remember, whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral, all feedback is valuable.
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