What’s the best way to manage customer feedback?

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
16 product things I learned at Imgur — Medium

Communities are unpredictable. Don’t take the community’s criticism too personally or you’ll become afraid of change and slow. Instead, be open, thoughtful and move quickly.

What’s the best way to make tough decisions?

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
Sam Gerstenzang – Seven things I learned in venture

The best way to become quickly knowledgeable is to find the right people and talk to them. There is no template for success, and no one knows what works. Big things growing really fast get really big, really fast. There is a huge advantage to being right early on.

What’s the best way to prioritize product features?

Brian de Haaf (Co-founder and CEO @ Aha!)
How to Say “No” to Your CEO’s Random Product Ideas

Here’s how to [prioritize]: 1. Goal first. Set your product strategy and then be proactive about communicating it within the rest of the organization. Define your vision and make sure everyone understands it, then your strategy can say, “No” for you. 2. Score ideas. You should rank features and prioritize the ones that will have the greatest impact on the product and the company. 3. Share your roadmap. Our product team shares our roadmap regularl… (read more)

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Learn the difference between people who might buy your product and people who are just commenting. Pay obsessive attention to the former. Ignore the latter.

Ben Erez (Product at Breeze)
22 Mistakes I Made as a First Time Founder — Viabilify

Anyone can get a potential customer to say they’re interested in something by asking the right questions. The only form of interest that ended up mattering to us from a potential customer was a full integration of their mobile presence, inventory and customer relationship processes into our software.

Ben Yoskovitz (VP Product at VarageSale, VP Product at GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce), Author of Lean Analytics)
Customer Support is the Ultimate Learning Experience

Most often, you just don’t know what people are going to do when they get their hands on your product. And customer support is the learning engine that can drive the company forward in terms of resolving usability issues, fixing bugs, prioritizing features, increasing virality/word-of-mouth and more.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
What problem are you solving? | A Founder’s Notebook

Explicitly articulating the user need and the proposed solution exposes your assumptions and makes it easier to test them (eg. with a survey) and entertain alternative solutions. This isn’t limited to product. In Seeking Alpha, we often talk about backing into the question. “Hey, I’ve had this great idea!” “What question is that idea answering?” “Ah, here’s an even better answer to that question…”

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How data should improve your product | A Founder’s Notebook

The job description of a data scientist in a startup: To interpret data into actionable decisions for the product, marketing and customer support teams.

Alan Klement (Author and Consumer Insights Analyst)
Replacing The User Story With The Job Story — Jobs To Be Done — Medium

Frame every design problem as a Job, focusing on the triggering event or situation, the motivation and goal, and the intended outcome: When _____ , I want to _____ , so I can _____. For example, “when an important new customer signs up, I want to be notified, so I can start a conversation with them. ”

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

Prioritization is critical and hard. (Equally important to setting the companys priorities is setting your own tactical priorities. What I’ve found works best for me personally is a pen-and-paper list for each day with ~3 major tasks and ~30 minor ones, and an annual to-do list of overall goals. )

Ben Yoskovitz (VP Product at VarageSale, VP Product at GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce), Author of Lean Analytics)
Prioritize Product Development by the Four Stages of Use

Think of your product less in terms of features and more in terms of the experience you’re trying to provide from start to finish: Ongoing Engagement: How do you make sure users get continuous value from your product? First User Experience: What do you want people doing as soon as they start using your product? Onboarding: How can you get people signed up? Marketing/Growth: How do you get users to your product? How do you get them to the front do… (read more)

Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder, CEO at Twitter and Square)
Jack Dorsey: The CEO as Chief Editor – YouTube

There are a million things that we could be doing, but only one or two are important. There’s all these stories from our users, from engineers, from support. We need to choose the one or two (or the intersection of a few) that are really going to drive the success of the product.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Why startups should focus on a Job To Be Done rather than “market need” | A Founder’s Notebook

Focusing on a Job To Be Done removes the need to specify who your target customer is, because your target customer is anyone who needs to get this job done.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: “I agree in principle…”

One of the great privileges of not living on the edge of disaster is that we have the ability to act on our principles. The hard part is realizing that it’s never the edge of disaster, and that the long run is always shorter than we imagine.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: On saying “no”

If it doesn’t move you forward, hesitate then walk away. The short run always seems urgent, and a moment where compromise feels appropriate. But in the long run, it’s the good ‘no’s that we remember. On the other hand, there’s an imperative to say “yes.” Say yes and build something that matters.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Worth thinking about

The key question isn’t, “what’s the answer?” The key question is, “what’s the question?” Is this area worth thinking about? Should I maintain the status quo? Is this good enough? Your focus is the heart of your organization’s future. Your attention is irreplaceable. The real question, then, is, “how much time are you spending deciding what to spend time on?”

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Deconstructing urgent vs. important

Unless you’re a day trader, though, this drama of seeing the news unfold right now is not going to help you make better decisions–in fact, it’s going to make your decisions worse. It’s also unlikely to make you happier. Or smarter. We’re more likely to be afraid of terrorism than long-term atmosphere change, even though it’s clear that the latter kills and injures far more people than the former.The news we consume changes us. Not just the news … (read more)

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
16 product things I learned at Imgur — Medium

Every feature you launch is a feature you’ll need to support with users, infrastructure and development. So launch as few things as possible.

Julie Zhuo (Director of Product Design at Facebook)
Pando: The tax of new

Define a green light criterion, and test a small launch against it. Define a sunset criterion.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Don’t be so clever. Obvious is usually the better product decision.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Just because it’s easy to implement doesn’t mean it isn’t costly. Product complexity isn’t just a technical burden but an education hurdle for customers and new hires.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Have a vision and thesis of the future but don’t overshoot the market, ignoring what people ask for today.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

The last 5% often makes all the difference.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Engage and include engineering very early in the product design process.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

If you’re saying “no” infrequently, you’re probably making bad product decisions.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Product design and usability is important for any product. B2B companies don’t get a pass. They serve people too

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Facebook’s most important advice for product managers | A Founder’s Notebook

Adding features doesn’t add users; focusing on your best features does. Every added feature adds complexity for new users to struggle with. Leaders must pare products down so new users can comprehend them.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Is this the most important feature of any app? | A Founder’s Notebook

Performance trumps other features. Still true today. And even more so for anything mobile.

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Ask two questions for every product feature. Will people buy because of this feature? Will people not buy because of lack of this feature? No amount of the latter will make up for lack of the former. Don’t build features if the answer to both questions is “no”.

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Development speed is everything.

Andy Dunn (CEO of Bonobos)
Get One Thing Right — Medium

Make one thing great. Get one thing right. That earns you the right to go from product one to product two.

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
Slava Akhmechet

The most important aspect of product management is categorizing features into three buckets: A gamechanger. People will want to buy your product because of this feature. A showstopper. People won’t buy your product if you’re missing this feature, but adding it won’t generate demand. A distraction. This feature will make no measurable impact on adoption.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Polyvore CEO Jess Lee on what makes startups successful | A Founder’s Notebook

First, figure out how to maximize your impact. Second, from that derive extreme focus. Third, thereby delight the user.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

When startups aren’t sure what to do next with their product, or if their product isnt good enough, we send them to go talk to their users. This doesn’t work in every case. It’s definitely true that people would have asked Ford for faster horses but it works surprisingly often. In fact, more generally, when there’s a disagreement about anything in the company, talk to your users.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Long Roadmaps – AVC

The best founders have these long roadmaps. If they can stay engaged in their companies, they can realize them over extended periods of time. There are so many reasons why this doesn’t always happen. Founders leave. Companies are sold. But when it all comes together, the result is magical.

What’s the best way to manage customer feedback?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Balancing product vision and listening to customers | A Founder’s Notebook

Finding the right mix of vision and listening is hard. It varies over time, and getting it wrong can lead to failure.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The challenge of pitching your app to journalists or VCs | A Founder’s Notebook

One of the situations where your product (such as a mobile app) gets judged by the wrong criteria is when you talk to journalists. For many products, journalists aren’t your target users, so they have limited patience. I found that getting journalists to install our app, including choosing 5 stocks, was tortuous.

Des Traynor (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom)
5 mistakes we all make with product feedback

If you want to improve your onboarding, only listen to people who recently signed up. If you want to improve a feature, only talk to those who use it.

Des Traynor (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom)
5 mistakes we all make with product feedback

Distinguish free from paying feedback. Periodically check in with users.

Des Traynor (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom)
5 mistakes we all make with product feedback

Ask users for feedback on day 30, 60, 120, 365, etc. Sightly more advanced — gather feature specific feedback based on usage.

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
16 product things I learned at Imgur — Medium

Public forums are not a useful way to get feedback, but are a useful way to get buy in from the community. This is true of both online and offline communities.

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
16 product things I learned at Imgur — Medium

Communities are unpredictable. Don’t take the community’s criticism too personally or you’ll become afraid of change and slow. Instead, be open, thoughtful and move quickly.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How to use net promotor score surveys to improve your product | A Founder’s Notebook

Using NPS survey responses has an advantage over mining usage data: the verbatim comments from detractors can tell you what’s missing from your product or what’s wrong with it, whereas usage data can only tell you what’s successful.

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
A Practitioner’s Guide to Net Promoter Score (NPS) | Sachin Rekhi

The most actionable part of the NPS survey is the categorization of the open-ended verbatim comments from promoters & detractors. Each survey we would analyze the promoter comments and categorize each comment into primary promoter benefit categories as well as similarly categorize each detractor comment into primary detractor issue categories.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: We don’t care enough to give you constructive feedback

Most of the time, people won’t bother to give you feedback. But when someone does care enough the ball is in your court. You can react to the feedback by taking it as an attack, deflecting blame, pointing fingers to policy or the CEO. Then you’ve just told me that you don’t care enough to receive the feedback in a useful way. Or you can pass me off to a powerless middleman, a frustrated person who mouths the words but makes it clear that the feed… (read more)

Ben Foster (Currently advising 10+ companies, 16 yrs PM/UX experience, VP Product at Opower, PM at eBay)
What’s the recipe for invention? – PM Rant

Recognize that ideas you hear (as a Product Manager) are typically shorthand for problems and solutions. Usually, with a little abstraction, youll discover some real nuggets.

Eric Ries (Author, The Lean Startup)
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

…the facts that we need to gather about customers, markets, suppliers, and channels exist only “outside the building.” Startups need extensive contact with potential customers to understand them, so get out of your chair and get to know them. The first step in this process is to confirm that your leap-of-faith questions are based in reality, that the customer has a significant problem worth solving. (p.88)

Tristan Pollock (Entrepreneur in Residence and Venture Partner at 500 Startups)
14 Marketplace Mistakes That Are Killing Your Startup | 500 Startups

Buyers are silent judges of your success: treat them well and they’ll spend money, otherwise they’ll just silently disappear.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Massively Multiuser Feedback – AVC

Finding the right balance between listening to your users and becoming hostage to them is hard. When you operate a large and public channel for these users, it is even harder. Being a CEO requires great listening skills, the ability to really hear and internalize opposing views, and then, ultimately, the courage to make the decision and go with it. That is true in terms of managing your team and your company and it is also true in terms of managi… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Watch What They Do, Not What They Say – AVC

Loyal users are always going to hate a big change to a service they use every day. I recall the outrage when Facebook rolled out the news feed, which has become the central feature of its product. It was as if they had destroyed the service.
Users’ actions will tell you what they think about a change more than what they write (on your platform and elsewhere).

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Getting Feedback and Listening To It – AVC

People tell you what they think you want to hear. That you are so smart. That you are so successful. They suck up to you. And it goes to your head. You believe it. I am so smart. I am so successful.
You have to get out of that mindset because it is toxic.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Continuous Feedback – AVC

Companies are using simple web tools to get continuous feedback on their performance. They are using this kind of approach to do performance reviews of everyone in the organization, they are using this kind of approach to get feedback from their customers, and they are using this kind of approach to get feedback from their Board, investors, and advisors. This makes a ton of sense. Startups are rapidly changing systems. If you use an annual review… (read more)

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

If you need continuous innovation like faster horses, listen to your sales team. If you need distruptive innovation like make a car, they won’t tell you that. They’ll mirror what your buyers are telling you.

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

Don’t listen to idiosyncratic feedback, make sure that lot’s of customers want it. Make sure that feedback goes toward the product you have, not the product they want. Be careful not to overindex for the buyer, you need to create value for the end-user.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
When your product change is greeted by a torrent of complaints, what should you do? | A Founder’s Notebook

Its easy to react emotionally to negative feedback. But as Eli Hoffmann (SAs VP Content) points out, a torrent of user complaints shows that people really care about your product.

Jason Lemkin (Managing Director at Storm Ventures, SaaStr.com)
What are the potential dangers in using a Freemium model? – Quora

The less the customer pays, the more feedback they provide, and the less engaged they are (making their feedback worse). The best feedback and least noisy feedback is from your most engaged (and generally most profitable customers). The biggest risk of all is listening to all the wants/wishes/complaints from the free and low-value converts and potential converts.

Des Traynor (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom)
5 mistakes we all make with product feedback

Treat every clustering of feedback that you see as a hypothesis, and then don’t build it, verify it. Don’t assume users request the right features: It’s essential to abstract a level or two above what’s requested, into something that makes sense to you, and benefits all your customers.

Eran Aloni (Head of Products at EchoSign)
Feedback versus vision in product management | A Founder’s Notebook

The trick is finding the point where feedback merits changing course. Small changes are usually easy to digest and act on, but acknowledging that key parts of your vision are flawed and that so much energy and effort are about to go down the drain goes against our nature and our inherent tendency to stay on course and reach our goal, even it’s no longer the right goal.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Survata – AVC

We’ve been using a tool at USV recently that I like. It is called Survata and it allows to you to create a survey and then target it at whatever number of completes you want. You can target it to respondents in 17 countries “by age, gender, geography, and custom attributes.” It is helpful for us to get a sense of what is going on in a market quickly. We generally go for thousands of completes and we get results within three to seven days. We have… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Use Social Sharing Platforms Like A Panel – AVC

You can turn your followers on social sharing platforms into a panel that will allow you to understand them and connect with them better.

What’s the best way to make tough decisions?

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
Sam Gerstenzang – Seven things I learned in venture

The best way to become quickly knowledgeable is to find the right people and talk to them. There is no template for success, and no one knows what works. Big things growing really fast get really big, really fast. There is a huge advantage to being right early on.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Sunk Costs – AVC

Sunk Costs are time and money (and other resources) you have already spent on a project, investment, or some other effort. They have been sunk into the effort and most likely you cannot get them back.
The important thing about sunk costs is when it comes time to make a decision about the project or investment, you should NOT factor in the sunk costs in that decision. You should treat them as gone already and make the decision based on what is in… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Satisficing – AVC

Satisficing is a decision-making strategy or cognitive heuristic that entails searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met.This is contrasted with optimal decision making, an approach that specifically attempts to find the best alternative available. I love the concept of satificing instead of optimizing. It is something I have been trying to adopt (changing behavior is hard) for close to twenty years now w… (read more)

Mike Maples Jr (Managing Partner @ FLOODGATE)
Ron Conway, Mike Maples Jr. – Angel Investing Revealed by Stanford eCorner | Free Listening on SoundCloud

The way I look at it, most decisions are either 50-50 or obvious and if its 49-51 it almost doesn’t almost doesn’t matter what you pick. Just pick one and execute it with brutal precision and you’ll be ok. When I flip a coin and it comes up heads and I wish it came up tails, I just turn it over and what tails says. If it comes up heads and I say ‘Oh I knew it all along I wanted it to be heads”, then I do what heads says. It’s surprising how you a… (read more)

Ben Erez (Product at Breeze)
22 Mistakes I Made as a First Time Founder — Viabilify

[Follow your gut. ] At one point during the first few weeks of starting our company, I had a very strong gut feeling to change the way we were going to tackle the problem we saw (aka in tech lingo a “pivot”). But the three of us weren’t on the same page and after a couple hours of arguing back and forth, we came together as a team and decided that we would not go in the direction in which I was pushing. In hindsight, I wish I stood my ground mor… (read more)

Dharmesh Shah (Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot)
Happy Birthday HubSpot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years

An imperfect decision today is better than a perfect decision some day.

Amir Elaguizy (CEO Cratejoy, YC Alumni)
58 things I learned at YC – Giftshop Scientist

There is no shortcut around learning, you just have to learn it. Everything is harder than it looks

David Frankel (Managing Partner at Founder Collective)
7 Deadly Distractions That Can Kill Your Business | Inc.com

Whenever a company strays from its core market, message or mission, the results can be devastating, particularly for small companies and startups. common causes… Waning confidence in current market position or pricing, overreaction to existing competitors or new, “hot” entrants in the market, sudden stagnation or rapid decline in growth, strategic partnerships with no clear metrics for success, pressure from investors or board members to change… (read more)