You’ve got product feedback, feature requests, bug reports, and more pouring in.

At the surface level, it’s easy to look at all of them and say, “We’re getting this feedback a lot. We should fix it.

But what do your customers really mean when they send all these feedback?

Most of us end up getting overwhelmed and ask:

  • How do I get actionable insights from the feedback?
  • How do I cut through the noise and make sense of all the feedback?
  • How do I turn this feedback into something that my squad can understand?

This is the result when we try to jump head-first too soon instead of taking a step back and analyzing the requests first.

Unless it’s a bug, most customers aren’t great at articulating the real problem.

This leads teams to focus on the subject of the feedback instead of the deeper, underlying problem.

So, how do you analyze customer feedback?

Step 1: Collect feedback from multiple sources

Before we even begin analyzing, we need to first collate all the feedback from multiple sources.

After all, customer feedback comes in all sizes and shapes. Some with happy faces. And the others with angry smileys.

They come in through your:

  • helpdesk software
  • live chat app
  • email
  • feature request software
  • contact forms

By bringing together feedback from multiple tools, you can easily spot multiple occurrences of the same feedback and gain insight into which is the most popular feedback.

Sure, the most popular feedback need not necessarily be the most important feedback. It nevertheless helps you gain clarity into what your customers think you need to fix.

Step 2: Analyze customer feedback by categorizing

Most requests and customer feedback broadly fall under 5 main categories:

1. Bugs & issues:

Customers are most angry when they experience a buggy software. You can almost always sense it in the way the support ticket is written.

Example feedback:

a. “I tried to use feature X. Instead I’m getting this error.
b. “I used feature X, but it did Y.

2. Feature requests:

Feature requests, like bugs, are straightforward to a certain extent. It starts with a customer asking if your product has a certain capability and if you could implement it. You can automatically categorize it as a feature request if it isn’t already available in your product.

Example feedback:

a. “Do you have feature X? Can you implement it?
b. “Is feature X in your roadmap?

3. Product Marketing:

If the feature requested by your customer exists in your product and they’re still asking you if they can use your product to implement the use case that’s solved by that feature, then you likely have a product marketing issue. The lack of awareness of the feature/capability tells you that they weren’t educated properly about it.

Example feedback:

a. “Can I use your product for this use case?
b. “How does this compare to the other product?

4. User Experience:

When customers give feedback related to user experience, they’re usually aware that a feature exists, but are not sure of how to use it or what will happen if they use it a certain way.

Example feedback:

a. “How do I do X?
b. “What happens when I do X in your app?

5. Positioning:

When customers believe that the product might not be for them, even if they match your ideal customer profile, then you likely have a positioning problem.

Example feedback:

a. “I thought your product might solve problem X and not problem Y.
b. “I don’t think my use case will be solved by this software.

Flowchart to analyze customer product feedback
Flowchart to analyze customer feedback

By categorizing each request and feedback into specific buckets, teams can analyze feedback without the chaos. This eliminates chances of missing critical feedback and the overwhelming feeling we might feel when looking at a lot of feedback at once.

At the end of this step you should have all your feedback neatly categorized, giving you a clarity on the kind of feedback you get often.

Step 3: Unify similar feedback

Now that you’ve grouped feedback into specific categories, it’s time to jump into each of these categories and unify similar feedback.

Unifying similar feedback will protect you from a common trap most of us fall prey to — if people receive a specific feedback frequently or recently, it has the greatest importance.

But of course, if 90% of your customers are complaining about your recent update, then you might want to look into it. After all, the overall volume of feedback about a single problem compared to other problems do matter.

At the end of this step, your already categorized list of feedback should have all similar feedback merged into one single view. This way, when you look at all the feedback, you are less likely to get overwhelmed with the volume of feedback.

3 things to keep in mind while analyzing customer feedback

Who gives the feedback is critical

Of course, you’re less likely to take someone's feedback seriously if you just met them on the bus. After all they don’t know anything about you or what you do. So, any feedback they give comes from their own experience and may or may not have any relevance to your needs.

On the other hand, if you receive feedback from a close friend who has been with you for years and has seen you go through the ups and downs, chances are they took all your past experiences into consideration to provide relevant feedback.

Similarly, when analyzing customer feedback it’s important to see which type of customer it’s coming from. Customers who’ve been with you the longest likely have a better idea of what you do compared to someone who just signed up.

Unsolicited feedback deserves special attention

People are more likely to give feedback when they experience extreme emotions. This means, you’re likely to get unsolicited feedback when your customers are extremely unhappy about your product or when they experience joy.

This can come in the form of social media posts or as an answer to a common open-ended survey question “Do you have any other feedback for us?

It’s never just “Nice”

Ever noticed how reviews on most Amazon products are clustered around either 5 stars or 1 star? It’s because, like I said before, our motivation to share our feelings are stronger when we experience extreme happiness or frustration.

We’re less likely to give a 2-star or a 3-star rating. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who feel that way. You most likely have a large group of people who think your product is “fine”, but didn’t respond to your feedback survey.

It’s within these customers that you’ll likely find hidden gems of feedback that help you take your product from “It’s a nice product” to “Take my money!

Final Thoughts

Categorizing certain feedback such as speed and performance are very contextual. If you believe speed is a feature by itself, then you might put it under feature requests. It could also be categorized as user experience. How you categorize them depends on how your organization looks at them. However you decide to do it, make sure you follow them consistently to avoid confusion and chaos.

If you’re unable to categorize any of the feedback, then you might want to put them temporarily under a “Others” bucket until you can start finding patterns.

Once you’re done analyzing and categorizing all the feedback, you can share this internally with every team — product, engineering, design, etc. This makes it easier to prioritize features and align everyone on a common outcome.

In 2012, an average organization received 887 tickets per month according to a Zendesk’s benchmark report. Even a company that had < 10 employees received 269 tickets per month.

If teams received that many tickets per month back in 2012, imagine the numbers for today! After all, the number of channels your customers use to interact with you has only gone up.

There’s live chat, feature tracking tools, survey tools, and bug reporting software. And they’re sending feedback, feature requests, and reporting bugs using all these tools.

Surely, you can’t be sifting through each tool manually and categorizing them. It’s just practically not possible.

At Zepel, we’re running a survey to understand how teams collect and analyze customer feedback. If you participate in it, as a token of thank you, we’ll send you the entire report when we’re done. And we’ll send our framework for analyzing customer feedback immediately, so you can gain valuable insights from your customers today.