Customer feedback: the key factor in agile product development
Updated: Mar 28
The link between customers, products, and the companies that manufacture them has never been more important.
Product managers tend to combine various methods of gathering customer feedback when working on product development. Qualitative methods include user online forums, 1:1 interviews, focus groups, or customer surveys, which enable selected consumers to state their opinions on products in development. On the quantitative side, A/B testings and polls are used to either compare new product versions or check customer acceptability of new items altogether. However, all of these methods require a great effort in organizing, collecting, and analyzing and can become time-consuming and costly.
While companies recognize the importance of integrating customer feedback in their development processes and planning, they may face difficulties identifying a set of target customers and establishing them as their advisory board. Even if they had selected a great team of customers, there is no guarantee that this group truly represents the future customers who would purchase the product. Then product managers must determine how to listen to what this panel has to say. They must make sure that this group’s feedback is objective and that interactions with this selected bunch of customers are accurate and answer their needs and pain points.
Nowadays, product teams work in design sprints and develop in “small doses”. A standard in many industries, this is done in order to be more agile and reduce risks. A sprint usually takes between 5-30 days and focuses on a specific product segment or feature. Then customer feedback is required for that product development segment in order for the company to understand if progress was made or whether the product team needs to return to their planning boards and fix this segment further. Such a sequential process is considered to be lean and agile.
Agile processes start with research that leads to a plan, which then leads to a segmented development. That leads to a test which is actually the customer’s feedback role. Based on the satisfaction level (or lack of) that customers voice, the company can analyze and plan its next steps. By addressing and prioritizing customer pain points, every company can better align its product development to its consumers’ requirements.
Collection and analysis of customer comments occur at all stages, that is pre-launch, during the initiation, and post-launch. But as production planning and manufacturing processes move quicker in today’s dynamic and very competitive markets, companies are vying for the connection with their customers to become faster and agile in and of itself. Yesterday’s tactics of data collection and analysis simply do not suffice anymore in today’s environment. Feedback data must be tracked and analyzed in real-time so that this week’s segment gets the reviews and complaints right away and companies can figure out how to evaluate it and take it from there.
In a pre-launch, for example, getting customer feedback on prototypes, whether on existing features or on missing ones, can become crucial. During the launch, reactions from consumers on features, packaging, and overall brand impressions are key. And during post-launch, that is sometime after the product or feature is already circulating in the market, companies look for more observations from their customers in order to see whether sentiment towards their products and the overall brand has changed.
And as a dialogue between companies and their customers is an ongoing process, Affogata is the “all-in-one platform” that can help product teams to improve their agility. By using Affogata’s product enablement platform, they can test all features and products quickly at all stages in real-time and receive an analysis of customer conversations and reviews from all over the open web. Through this ongoing feedback analysis of their customers, they can understand better what works and what still needs improvement, be it in a feature or the full product or service. The clearer and the more accurate the data is, after bots and spam are removed from it by Affogata, the better is the companies’ abilities to take actions with regards to their next moves and operations in a lean way.