If you talk to enough users, you can quickly develop an ever-expanding list of tactical and strategic feedback. User feedback is essential of course, but it can challenging to separate the signal from the noise. Not all comments by your users are made equal; some ideas may be the 10x you need, while others will leave you treading water as you try to create a complex feature.
I am going to talk about how we’ve approached this at Axis by using Notion. You can download the template we used at the bottom of this post.
1. Define your product’s value prop
For any product to take hold in a market, it has to provide some value to the user. That value can be more ephemeral, like human connection, or it can be a concrete monetary value or anything in between. When you define your core value proposition you then have to ask yourself: How should we deliver on this? What are the best processes for fully delivering on our proposition? We concluded that no matter what the process for delivery is, the base assumption is that your proposition has to align with user expectations of your product. If you are selling them a regulatory compliance tool, they cannot log in and see nothing but advertisements for health supplements.
What is Axis?
Axis is a knowledge base of government regulations and officials that helps large companies do business in foreign markets. For example, if you operate in Saudi Arabia - our software tells you which laws you must comply with and which officials you need approvals from.
When we defined Axis’ core proposition we spent time speaking to prospective users - They first wanted to know if we had the data in the first place. If we did, they wanted to find it quickly, and sometimes that was enough. But, often there was a third task: Doing something with the data - usually sharing, but not always.
We reviewed those categories and looked for a shorthand for them. What were the broadest categories which could encapsulate our users’ desires? We landed on these three core product pillars:
- Definition: Ingest raw data and turn it into clear, digestible information.
- Measure: Do we have the information our users want? Is it accurate? Is it clear?
- Definition: Index the information and make it trivial to find.
- Measure: Ok, we have the information but can our users find it quickly and consistently?
- Definition: Make the information actionable, modifiable, and shareable.
- Measure: Now that our users found the information can they do anything useful with it?
Under these three pillars, we were able to begin structuring user insights in a way that enabled us to understand how opportunities overlapped with our business goals, and whether a user’s seemingly dire request was as important as purported. In some golden circumstances, a single user’s seemingly small insight could open up a wealth of new possibilities.
Our Notion template helped to organize all of those thoughts into action items.
2. Use a flexible database to capture your user's info and perspectives
Within Notion we built a database that functions primarily as a CRM for sales. However, it also operates as a means to catalogue the requirements, problems, and bright-spots of any and everyone that we talk to - from seasoned users to prospective clients.
This is what the CRM looks like:
Each of the rows in that view represents a customer, and each customer has many more input fields than the basic sales view. Everything from pipeline size to their wants, a summary of who the individual is and how we met them are made easily available within the template. Inside each page you'll see:
Beyond the base properties of the template, you can make use of Notion's flexibility and catalogue each contact in the general comments section on the individual's page. Notion has a simple "@Today" command that will fill the date and from there you log any call notes you need.
3. From plaintext feedback to force-ranked feature requests
Take Monday's call as an example: Waystar presented a variety of opportunities which ranged from a mobile app to exporting to .pptx and .pdf, they also expressed a primary use-case in the fact that they are regularly talking to ministers and ambassadors. All of this works together to help build their individual persona, but it also enables you to take the product opportunities and add them into the 'Wants' field.
Once all of the user's wants have been recorded, you can switch the view of the Notion template over to boards for our Create, Find, and Act pillars and order the requests by volume.
You do not have to abide by the concepts of Create, Find and Act - we found that these were valuable categories for our product, but they may not be for you. The virtue of this template is being able to restructure it and refine it to fit your business case. But, once all of these ideas have been logged, you can begin to grasp the full view of the product directions available to your business.
We take the top features across the board and commit to a process of product discovery where we determine what user problems are truly being solved, how it overlaps with our existing business goals, and how this all mixes together to support the original value proposition of the product. Once comfortable with that you can begin assessing technical feasibility and creating production-ready designs. This is obvious but still worth noting: Only some feature requests we log are eventually built. Sometimes users will ask for features that may not align with our business priorities or product vision, and more tactically, some don’t overlap with other users’ requests.
This process that links our CRM together with our product priorities is not the only tool in our kit, but it is a powerful means to keep track of what your customers are requesting and focus your understanding of the opportunities available to your team and product.
And then features get built
Link to the template