Oh my goodness, totally understand the pain point you talk about here as it was a massive problem in my last company. So much so we built our our own product to solve it.
The balance between customer feedback, internal demands on product and understanding those in the context of your product and business strategy can be incredibly difficult…particularly when you have the situation you describe above.
We solve this by having a single area where we gather feedback and feature requests from internal teams and our customers. Our internal teams (like sales, customer success, product, leadership etc…) and customers can add, discuss and prioritize requests on an ongoing basis which gives us a dynamic view of demand.
Understanding priorities is also absolutely key as feature votes alone (or random pieces of feedback coming in through a support team) really don’t tell you much. I wrote about why here:
Finally, we use the information we gather to make data-driven product decisions in the framework of our product & company strategy. One of the ways we do this is by understanding who requests are coming from. We have extensive reporting so we can see the following with one click:
- What matters to paying customers vs triallers or users who have left
- What's important to big customers vs small
- How the industry and location of our customers affects their demands on our product
- How job role (decision / day-to-day user etc...) affects what people need in our product
All the above is easily combined with development effort so we can see which feedback & feature requests are going to have the biggest impact. So in summary, understanding prioritization and who requests are coming from is absolute gold dust.
prioritization + segmentation = data-drive product decisions
Here’s answers to your questions answered more directly…!
How does an enterprise SaaS product avoid feature creep when most product decisions are support tickets-driven, as you are expected to always listen to your customers?
Give your customers a dedicated channel for feedback & feature requests. You’ll see a dramatic reduction in the time your support and customers-facing dealing with these sorts of requests and customer engagement will also increase. Nice case study about that here.
You avoid feature creep by gathering the data, understanding it and making decisions based on your company strategy. You have to build a product your customers love, but in a way that supports what your business needs.
You’ll also be surprised that giving customers a dedicated channel, communicating progress back to them and sharing a high-level roadmap increases customer satisfaction. Even if you aren’t building specifically what they have requested, they will be happy if they can see progress and your future plans.
To clarify the question a bit more, when your top 20% paid customers often request customized features that the other 80% of your customers don’t care, what’s the best way to prioritize the product roadmap without making the product too complicated?
You need to understand the priority of these requests. Without that, you can’t make informed decisions on which features are going to have the highest impact for you. More on that here: What are the highest impact feautres you can build right now?
See the original Q&A on Quora.