Feature voting platforms like UserVoice and Canny can be a convenient way to hear from customers. The former began in 2006 as a way to monitor customer feedback, while the latter’s designers market the product as a modern alternative founded a decade later.
While these platforms give you an idea of what your customers are saying, public voting boards don’t always deliver the necessary results to manage products. Here’s why you shouldn’t use them, and why you should try platforms like UserVitals instead.
Feature Voting Does Not Create Real Customer Interactions
Having one-on-one conversations with customers is the only effective way to get valuable insight into your products. When you speak directly to customers and hear their real feedback, you can build better products that meet your customers’ needs as a founder or product manager.
You won’t get this kind of insightful customer conversation with feature voting platforms. These tools only provide one-way conversations; your customers ask for a feature, and you do what you want with that information. Sure, you can reply to a post with a nice message like “Thanks for the feedback!” but that doesn’t add any value or solve a customer’s deeper issues.
For instance, a customer on a feature voting site might ask for an integration feature. That’s only the start of a conversation. When you consider this feedback, you might ask questions like “how does integrating x with y help customers?” or “what would this integration mean for the other features connected to x or y?”
When asking these questions amongst your product management team, you might discover better solutions for the real problem the customer needed to solve. The process would have been more time-efficient and perhaps cost-effective with a one-on-one conversation.
Public Voting Boards Damage Your Product Roadmap
As we’ve established, you can’t know what your customers really want just by looking at the most popular post on a feature voting platform. And without understanding what your customers want, you have no way to create a product that effectively serves them. Simply speaking, the “3 W’s” are the reason why public voting boards damage your product roadmap.
1. Feature Votes Don’t Show WHO
Feature votes are just a way to measure how many people might want the same feature. You won’t know who those people are, and chances are they don’t even need the same upvoted feature.
For example, the top-voted post in a feature voting platform might ask for an exporting feature. One voter may have only wanted to export data for a meeting, which an automatic emailing feature might do better instead.
It’s highly unlikely that everyone who upvoted the feature has the same problem as the original poster. They might have thought it was cool, or know someone who might like that feature and wanted to show support. You don’t know what everyone wants unless you speak to them directly. It’s like getting advice from strangers.
If you don’t know where your feature demands are coming from and understand your customers’ true intentions for voting, you can’t move forward and make better-informed product decisions. You can’t get insights from anonymous takes. Plus, you won’t know who your valuable customers are.
When you don’t know who to prioritize, you can’t get quality feedback. Feature voting just doesn’t have the range of services that lets you focus on developing features for your target audience groups. You need a way to meet these people so you can better align your company strategy with their needs.
2. Feature Votes Don’t Record WHEN
Customers usually click or tap on an upvote button as soon as they need the feature. Feature votes don’t have timestamps, so you won’t know exactly when a customer casts a feature vote. As such, you won’t know when they need help. That customer may have moved on by the time you start working on a feature that addresses their vote.
Feature votes remain static while the customer’s priorities may have changed, meaning you could miss your opportunity to solve a problem that was urgent for a potentially valuable customer. If you know when a customer needs a certain feature, you can align their request with your constantly-changing company needs for a better marketing strategy.
3. Feature Votes Don’t Explain WHY
We mentioned that upvoters might not have the exact issue as the user who gave feedback on a feature voting platform. Not only will you not know who and when these users are, but you also won’t know why they agree in the first place.
Feature voters are customers, and they have an explanation hiding behind their votes. They want something done and expect their votes to be heard. When you don’t know why they voted, you have no real feedback. You just know that it’s something they might want.
Upvotes are a popularity rating, not real customer feedback. Fifty upvotes on one feature does not mean all 50 voters want the same thing; they might simply want something related to the thing they voted for. To truly and effectively address a customer’s pain points, you must understand why they’re requesting a feature.
Why You Should NEVER Use Feature Voting
An effective product management team is customer-driven, meaning you must operate with the end-user in mind. You know they have a problem and you want them to know that you have their solution.
You cannot be customer-driven with feature voting software though. All you have are random feature votes without any real insight. Real people are behind the number of votes for a feature; when you don’t know who your customers are, when they need their solution, and why they want a feature, you can’t give them the right product they need for their problems.
Now, let’s dive deeper into why feature voting is bad for your product.
1. You Get Features With No Real Insights
When developing a product, you want to address a specific problem. Feature votes only generate face value phrases about what features a customer wants. Think of these as “wishes” without any real case point or pain point to back up a customer’s claims.
You must understand exactly why customers request certain features. A clear understanding of where these wishes stem from helps you make more informed product decisions. Remember, it’s highly unlikely that two feature voters share the exact same sentiment for casting a vote on a feature voting platform.
Here are some reasons why someone may upvote a feature:
- A user has the exact issue (which is highly unlikely).
- A user has a similar case and upvotes a post that already exists instead of creating a new one.
- A user finds the feature interesting enough to upvote even though it may not be relevant to them.
- A user is supporting a friend who needs or wants the feature.
- A user might have needed the feature before but has since moved on.
There are countless more reasons why someone would upvote a feature. You can’t just guess your way towards making good decisions. You need hard facts and real data, which you can’t get with the most popular voted feature.
2. Customers Voices Are Lost If You Wait
We mentioned that customers vote for a feature because they needed it when they cast their vote. When your product management team finally follows up with customers about why they voted for a feature, they may have already forgotten why they needed the feature at that time.
Feature voting platforms don’t offer the convenience of knowing when a customer upvoted a feature, leading to delayed services. Delayed requests for explanations make it difficult to capture a customer’s case and pain points. You need to know when exactly they requested to capture their explanation while the need for the feature is still fresh in their mind.
3. Nobody Wants to Login Again
Feature voting platforms require membership, meaning a customer will need to create an account to add feedback to a feature voting board, and nobody wants to do that. Customers do not want to go through another signup process just to get their problem heard. That’s a poor user experience and customers will be less willing to provide good feedback.
4. Customers Don’t Understand Your Tradeoffs
Having lots of feature ideas on a public voting board gives customers unrealistic product expectations. They might get the idea that you are equally considering all those features at some point. They may even question your decisions when they find out that you built one feature over another more popular feature. This leads to distrust, and your customers might feel like their votes didn’t matter.
You have constraints like limited time and resources. Customers don’t have the same limits. They can keep “prioritizing” more and more features without knowing your company’s tradeoffs.
5. Feature Voting Leads to Upset Customers
When you have distrustful customers who feel like their votes didn’t matter, they become upset. No matter how you look at it, a feature voting platform gives the illusion that you hear your customers and are listening to their feedback. In reality, you can’t address all popular features.
If a feature with the most upvotes is out of budget, nearly impossible to implement, or highly irrelevant to your product and company strategy, would you really waste your time and resources to fulfill the request of anonymous users?
You’re putting your company out for scrutiny by having a public voting board. When you don’t implement the popular features, customers will judge you. But when you do, you might risk expensive rebranding.
6. You May Get Customer Groupthink
Customers usually get ideas or feedback they want to share when they use your product. When they look at your public voting board, they might find that there are nearly similar cases that they can vote on instead of explaining their unique feature idea. They think with the group, and as a result, they bump up feedback that may not be as important for many of the voters.
Feature voting platforms are the worst things you could integrate with your product management team. These tools only give the illusion that you listen to your customers and conduct effective feedback management.
In reality, you have no way to know who feature voters are, when they voted for a feature, and why they needed that feature in the first place. These three W’s are essential factors in being a customer-driven company. You want to understand your customers’ needs and effectively deliver the solution as soon as they need them.
Use UserVitals Instead
UserVitals offers a great solution to the problem of feedback voting by giving context and evidence to your feature requests, therefore answering the 3 W’s.
UserVitals is an all-in-one customer feedback platform that allows you to easily bring in feedback from all over the web using our Chrome extension and integrations, or even from your own website and customer portal. This info, referred to as Insights, can then be collected and sorted into Stories to better understand your customers’ needs.
Within UserVitals, these stories can then be added to your public roadmap, which can be viewed publicly on your site. While we don’t allow for feature voting, we do allow for customers to leave comments on feature requests with their feedback and opinions.
This means the feedback that you get will be targeted and specific to give you a better idea of what in your roadmap is worth prioritizing and what might be better left to later on or discarded.
Join UserVitals today and discover how we can make gathering feedback easy and painless.