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February 1, 2022
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 min read

A product vision is meaningless if it isn’t rooted in customer feedback.

A product vision is meaningless if it isn’t rooted in customer feedback.

Google’s vision statement is “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.” It’s succinct, but bold — and it’s anything but static. This vision guides every decision they make about how to serve their customers. 

But it’s also worthless if they’re not learning from their customers along the way about how to make that one click faster, richer, and better. Failed projects like Google+ and Google Glass are cold, hard proof. Google gave customers what they thought they needed, instead of listening to what they actually wanted for a better user experience.

Your own product vision will be formed early in the development process, setting the foundation for every version of your product that’s to come. But your vision should be mapped to customer feedback to guide critical decisions, inform your evolving product strategy, and deliver on your promise to your users.

Your product vision sets up long-term goals and the product roadmap

A product vision helps your team stay focused about why you’re building your product and what problems you hope to solve. Even though you’ll craft your product vision during product development, it’s not finished at this stage. Think of it more as a living, breathing mantra that you need to constantly execute and refine.

What is a product vision?

A product vision is a short statement that captures your product’s purpose, the problems it will solve, and the goals it will achieve in the future. While your product vision statement might be short — maybe a sentence or two at most — it acts as a north star, containing pertinent info about the direction you’re heading with your product. It provides your product team with a common reference point as they move forward, creating a shared understanding about how your product will serve your company vision and customer needs.

Why do you need a product vision?

The vision provides you with a roadmap as you’re building and iterating on your product to guide your decision-making. This is crucial not just for developing new products, but future product updates and releases as well. A well-crafted, compelling product vision helps you stay aligned with broader strategic goals and put your customers first. 

When it comes time to decide which features to launch next or how to structure the pricing, product owners and stakeholders can draw from a great product vision to make those decisions with confidence. Instead of floundering at these questions, teams can work towards implementing a effective product strategy that fills a market gap and continuously exceeds user expectations.

How can you create a product vision?

Since you’re describing the future state of your product, you’ll want to think about two to five years in the future when you’re writing your statement. Be practical, considering your target audience and market and how your product fits in. But you can be a little bold, too — your product vision should be aspirational, describing how your product is different from what’s been done before.

Most importantly, think about your target customers and their pain points. In a list of 10 product vision principles, product manager Matt Andrews recommends “Start with why” at the very top. Your customers are your purpose. Their challenges are exactly what your product hopes to solve. That’s the starting point for a clear product vision.

Your product vision statement may be drafted, saved, and shared with your product team. But it’s never complete. You have to execute on what you’re promising to deliver throughout every phase of development to bring this vision to life.

While Google has failed with some of their product launches, they are still the most popular search engine on the web. That’s because they’re constantly iterating to bring you the most relevant search results. They introduced featured snippets and the “People Also Ask” feature to provide quick, helpful answers. They include video carousels at the top of the first page of results when it’s relevant. That’s what customers really want, and that’s what “in one click” really means — the heart of Google’s product vision.

Mapping your product vision statement to customer feedback delivers more valuable insights

Your product exists to serve your customers. Your vision needs to incorporate their insights and feedback as you’re carrying it out — otherwise, you won’t be very successful at fulfilling it.

You’re constantly learning more about your customers, their challenges and pain points, and how they use your product. You take your best guess at this during the early stages of product development from what you see in the market. But you only learn it firsthand once your product is officially launched, from direct sources of feedback like app reviews and customer support channels. You can’t guide product decisions in the right direction without incorporating this knowledge.

Even from the beginning, what you define as your product vision is based on insight into customer needs and a perceived market gap. Without that, you wouldn’t have a minimum viable product (MVP). Those customer insights directly inform the vision and product goals.

As an example: Asana’s product vision is, “In the future, anyone can prioritize their day across all of their apps in Asana.” They’ve crafted a vision that speaks to how their product will address common frustrations with workplace management software. But customer insights connect back to the product vision in a couple of important ways:

  1. Current frustrations and priorities: Asana needs to understand how their customers want to prioritize their day, how they’re using apps together, and which apps they’re using most often. Without direct customer feedback, Asana’s team would just be building products for themselves. Their vision will never pan out.
  2. “Future state” decision-making: This is a vision of the future — it starts with those exact words. Their vision is bound to evolve as user habits and behaviors change. That impacts the product decisions that stakeholders make, like which apps to support first, and which integrations to prioritize.

Two companies with similar resources and even a similar product vision at the outset will have entirely different outcomes depending on their approach to customer feedback. A company that chooses to analyze and incorporate feedback to evolve their product vision will see higher retention and growth. Their counterparts who ignore customer insights will release products that don’t resonate and lose users. Decreased revenue will follow.

But successfully connecting customer feedback to your product vision requires constant input and analysis. You have to use what you learn from your customers to prioritize what to build (and what to defer to later launches). Then, you measure the impact on customer behavior and sentiment by collecting more feedback, and you iterate again.

Amplitude is an example of a successful company who executed on their vision in a really competitive product category: analytics tools. Their mission is essentially to help companies build better products. Their competitors were tempted to go broad — they built analytics dashboards, but they also built A/B testing, surveys, and other all-in-one tools.

But Amplitude wasn’t swayed. They dug in, listened to customer feedback, and gathered useful insights. They found that customers wanted deeper analytics that could drive them to an actionable solution. So instead of building an all-in-one platform, Amplitude focused on improving their core analytical workflow and solving those customer concerns first. While they had a similar vision to their competitors, they incorporated a far deeper level of customer insights to power their product success.

Three ways to apply customer feedback to your product vision

Use customer insights to execute your product vision by keeping feedback at the heart of your decision-making. Analyze feedback strategically to prioritize your next update, quickly resolve UX concerns, and unlock growth opportunities by better serving your customers.

1. Prioritize product decisions through feedback analysis

Every investment you make in your product is a tradeoff. Each time you roll out one feature, you’re consciously choosing not to address something else. Quantify your customer feedback to prioritize product and feature updates.

When you decide to develop and launch feature A — let’s say A/B testing — over feature B — maybe a CRM integration — you’re making a strategic bet on your product. You’re also betting that customers will stick with you because more of them prefer to see feature A.

You have to choose high-impact areas for your bet to pay off. If 10% of customers care about A/B testing, but 50% care about the CRM integration, you’re making a poor investment in your product development. You risk about half of your customers growing frustrated and leaving for a competitor if you don’t prioritize that feature.

But you still need a quantifiable way to determine which customer insights to prioritize and act on. You can’t rely on your team to sort through mountains of qualitative feedback and make decisions based on the trends that stick out most — that introduces too much bias to be effective.

Manually tagging feedback with specific reasons or categories is technically possible, but totally unrealistic for creating a workable feedback taxonomy. Employees have to tag comments across every channel as they come in: social media, reviews, support tickets, sales conversations, you name it. It’s way too time-consuming, laborious, and ultimately unreliable for critical decision-making.

But with an automated feedback taxonomy built on natural language processing (NLP), the system tags and analyzes large volumes of feedback to objectively quantify customer requests. An NLP system cuts through the noise so you can make high-impact product decisions. You’ll no longer make decisions based on, “We’re getting more requests to fix our login issues this month.” You can drill down to granular insights, like 73% of users reporting a login issue since launch and 57% of users reporting a merchant issue at payment.

2. Pay attention and react quickly to maintain quality

You can have a high-level vision for your product and continuously build towards the future. But you also need to be tuned into customer feedback in real-time so you can react quickly to issues and quality concerns, and keep that product vision on track.

Every product vision should incorporate a baseline for quality, because customers adopt products that make their lives easier — not those that introduce new problems. Feedback helps you meet those expectations even in a world of continuous product deployments. In almost every case, you’re not building and shipping software every six months, so you don’t have time to test for every bug yourself.

Instead, product updates now ship every two weeks. Bugs are commonplace, quality issues can creep in, and your customers won’t be shy about letting you know. They’ll sound the alarm on social media or call in to your support line about issues with product releases. Don’t let their problems go unaddressed. You have to listen to feedback quickly and react fact by deploying updates and fixes in order to deliver on your quality promise.

Automated feedback systems can tag customer feedback in real time, as it flows in, so you can stay on top of the concerns that are plaguing users. A tool like Enterpret is also easily searchable for direct customer quotes so you can act from those insights. We worked with Swift to build an automated feedback taxonomy that still captures their voice of customer; every piece of feedback is grouped and quantified, but they can quickly find specific customer quotes in the same tool. They can quickly determine the exact reason for the feedback and get to work on a fix.

3. Run growth experiments rooted in feedback

Your customer feedback is also an excellent source of inspiration for ideas about what’s next for product development. The best teams do a lot of experimentation around opportunities for added features and product growth.

To be successful, run experiments that work towards executing the purpose of your vision. Don’t just test meaningless design or UX features because they look nice. The point here is growth, so these experiments should impact retention, revenue, or another metric that will expand your product’s footprint.

Customer feedback is crucial to surfacing new experiments, but it’s not just A/B testing new button colors on a mobile app. Those are useless and rarely help you carry out your product vision. Successful experiments are rooted in customer pain points — what your vision strives to eliminate. That’s where insightful, qualitative feedback accurately informs the steps you’ll take. Your customers probably aren’t frustrated daily by button colors. But they might be growing frustrated by a lack of functionality.

We worked with one customer who regularly received complaints about the character limit for submission requests on their app. This feedback came up again and again in the data through our automated NLP system. The company decided to run an experiment and see if customers were willing to pay for an increase in character count. This feature indeed proved to be valuable enough that many users were willing to pay extra for more characters. 

By making decisions and running tests with quantifiable feedback, our customer unlocked a brand new revenue stream. They also iterated on their product vision, expanding on useful features that delighted their customers.

Apply automated feedback tools to better serve end users

Concentrate on putting insights to action with an automated feedback platform. Use a tool like Enterpret to set up an automated feedback repository, collect data across multiple channels, and aggregate it into one unified taxonomy.

Your customer feedback comes via no shortage of channels: app store and G2 reviews, replies from multiple social media accounts, support calls and chats, and video calls over Zoom and Gong. To ensure you’re executing on your product vision, you have to comb through all of those conversations, and conduct additional research through customer surveys and user interviews. 

You’ll likely end up with thousands of responses and comments for employees across different departments to tag. This is a highly manual process that’s prone to mistakes — and it’s a gigantic waste of time. Enterpret uses large language models to gather all of your customer feedback, regardless of its original source, and create one unified feedback repository.

Learn how you can eliminate the need for manual feedback gathering or tagging with Enterpret so you can focus on what’s important: driving your product vision forward.

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