Building quality products and services is the first, most important, step in building a great company, but knowing how to add value to our customers isn’t always as simple as it sounds.
That’s because most of us think there are a ton of things that will improve our life that actually don’t. I mean, how else would companies like Skymall and Sharper image stay in business? “Yes, sir, it’s an alarm clock that can also make toast and slushies.” “I’ll take it!”
Take a look in your closet, basement, or garage for instance. How many of the things you’ve bought over the years turned out to really be useful? User ideas for product improvements and feature suggestions are the same way. Like impulse buying, people impulse recommend, and if you’re not careful, your product will be as cluttered as a hoarder’s garage. If you’re thoughtful about what you decide to implement, though, you can build something really strong.
So the question is “How do you get quality feedback from your users, while avoiding going down the rabbit hole?” Here are three things I’ve learned that might be able to help you:
1) Get feedback from people who are USING your product.
While building an application, you’ll always run into people who have a ton of ideas for cool features. “It would be awesome if you could do this, and maybe a button here could do that” etc, etc. When listening to these ideas, remember that the feedback most likely to give you the highest ROI almost always comes from users who use your product on a daily basis; trying to implement tons of ideas from people who only love the idea of your application (but don’t use it regularly) can be an easy way to go down the rabbit hole.
2) Is it multifaceted?
In my book, multifaceted features add benefits across a variety of potential use cases. Multifaceted features have two big benefits. First, they benefit more customers, and second, they make it easier to pivot your business without losing work. Features that solve a very specific use case, but take a lot of time and resources, detract your focus from something that might be able to benefit people with a lot of different use cases. Sometimes it’s necessary to put your focus into something more narrow, but just make sure to consider what you may have to give up in exchange.
3) Calculate the net benefit.
To prioritize feedback it’s crazy important to consider how much work it will take to implement. An easy way to do this is to use the following equation:
Value = (Benefit) – (cost of building or implementing)
This equation helps to show that although a feature might have a crazy huge benefit, whether or not it’s worth implementing is always dependent on the cost. One of the most important things I’ve learned from working on a startup is that the easiest way to add value to your users is to find those features that add value while requiring minimum investment/cost.
So, again, here’s a quick summary:
- Be wary of the person who has tons of new feature ideas but doesn’t actually write out the check.
- Consider the flexibility of the feature for a variety of customers/use cases.
- All else held constant, the longer something takes to build, the lower the ROI.