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Here is our take on how to manage product feature requests and respond to them graciously.
Customer Support is a very essential part of keeping your customers satisfied. It is never an easy task but sometimes it can become much trickier. Your customer support team must be trained to handle such tricky situations where they have to turn down a customer’s request without making them dissatisfied. One of the trickiest situations for any customer support team of a SaaS company can be a ‘product feature request’.
A product feature request is a condition where a customer, instead of telling their problem starts suggesting some features that your SaaS product should have. The customer may request a feature that your SaaS product or service cannot support at least in the near future. It can be tough for a customer support agent to inform the customer that the feature is not possible in the foreseeable future without disappointing them. Customers are not a part of the product development team, and they cannot be expected to understand the nitty-gritty of the entire development process. There is a high probability for them to become unsatisfied when their request is turned down or they do not see the feature within a few days of their request.
In this write-up, we will be sharing some pro-tips for managing and responding graciously to product feature requests by your customers. These tips will help you in responding to product feature requests in a way that you respond honestly without disappointing your customers.
Before we discuss the ways to handle product feature requests it is imperative to understand why customers approach you with these requests. Unless you do not understand things from customers’ point of view you cannot be empathetic and respond to them graciously.
At the surface, it may seem that customers are trying to tell you what to do but in reality, they are sharing their pain points. If you pay attention, they are giving you the hint that they have a certain problem and they believe that you can provide them with the solution. So, if you think intelligently, product feature requests are feedback and valuable information from your customers that they are providing you willingly.
When a customer is requesting a product feature, she is telling you that she uses your product and trusts you. Providing feedback like this makes them feel that they are a part of the entire business process. So, product feature requests provide you with the opportunity to understand your customers’ expectations better and strengthen your bond with your existing customers.
You might have had not-so-good experience dealing with product feature requests in the past. Now, let us provide you with tips to manage product feature requests like a pro and respond graciously to your customers.
The first thing your customer support agent needs to do is to listen to whatever the customer has to say. You should never ignore your customers’ responses whether they are positive or negative. You need to strengthen your bond with your customers and so you need to listen to them intently. The customer should feel that they are valued. If you need to ask a few questions to understand exactly what your customer wants to say, just go for it. This will make your customers feel that you are paying attention to whatever they have to say, and their suggestion will be considered.
The next thing you need to do in this regard is to be grateful and express your gratitude to your customers for giving their precious time and for providing you with their valuable insights. Customers’ genuine feedback is an asset for any SaaS company that wants to grow its business. And you should be thankful to this customer who approached you for providing that valuable asset for free. A thank you at the end of the conversation can go a long way in strengthening your bond with your customers.
Never make the mistake of lying to your customers for making them feel valued. Respect your relationship with your customers as you would do with your personal relationships. Many companies make the mistake of giving false hope and hollow promises to their customers. The customer might feel joyous at the moment but will eventually become dissatisfied when you fail to keep your promise. Instead of making false promises, you should remain honest and transparent with the customers who approach you with product feature requests. If you do not see the possibility of that feature in the near future, you should communicate the same.
Sure, automated responses save lots of time and energy when it comes to repeated questions and queries. But when it comes to product feature requests you should never rely on automated responses. Customers know when they are interacting with a computer rather than a human. When customers feel that their message did not reach any human eye, they feel frustrated because their effort to reach you went in vain. So, make sure that any product feature request is handled by a human who can follow all the above-mentioned rules.
When a customer requests any product feature she is simply showing you the way she thinks her problem can be solved. The majority of the time the proposed solution by customers is not feasible. But it does not mean that you should simply decline customers’ requests. Your customer support team should be trained to see the underlying problem for which the customer is suggesting a product feature. When you understand the problem of your customer you can provide them with an alternate solution. You must know that there can be many solutions to a given problem. The solution to your customers’ problems might already be available in your product. You just need to educate the customer about the solution to her problem.
This might feel scary at the first glance but it is okay to give an explanation when you have to. When your product has no alternate solution, and you cannot implement the requested product feature be honest with your customer. Instead of giving them a plain ‘no’ try to explain to them the reason why the said feature is not possible in that given time or why your product is not the right thing for solving their current problem. The customer might not like their idea being rejected but this gesture will build their trust in your brand that you listen to your customers and care enough to give them a genuine explanation as to why you cannot incorporate their idea.
‘Closing the loop’ is particularly important when it comes to dealing with customers; be it customer complaints, feedback, or product feature request. You cannot leave the conversation with your customers open-ended. You need to make sure that whatever your customer had to say had been said and they have been given a response to their every query. Never ever leave any communication with your customer hanging mid-air. They should be asked whether their communication with the agent was satisfactory or if there remains something else to be said. Another thing that you need to take care of while closing the loop is that you should seal it with a smile and thanks to your customer.
This last tip is like an after-sale service. If you develop any product feature that might have been requested by any customer in the past, you should update them with the news. This will make the customers feel special and valued. You can send personalized emails or messages to customers about updates in your product feature thanking them for being a part of the development. When you make your customers feel so special, they are likely to develop loyalty to your brand in the long run. Even if the feature is not exactly as requested by the customer you can update them about the features that can provide a solution to their problem.19
Product feature requests, most of the time, are not about developing the requested feature. They are about managing your customers’ expectations. They are about being empathetic to your customers and making them feel valued. Managing product feature requests is just like managing your personal relationships. You have to be respectful, empathetic, and honest at the same time. If your customer support team manages to handle product feature requests gracefully you will earn some high-value customers who can help your brand grow.
Rakhin has over 10 years of experience driving business development and client services. In his prior roles, he stayed close to customers to understand their requirements and help them achieve their business goals. He is passionate about customer success.
Published 10 Mar 2022, Updated 10 Mar 2022
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