What do you do with community ideas and suggestions?

(Liz Crampton) #1

Hi everyone!

I’ve just started at Fitbit and the community has a LOT of suggestions for product/feature improvements: https://community.fitbit.com/t5/Feature-Suggestions/idb-p/features… and it’s my job to organise them! I posted this under collaboration because I’m also interested in whether anyone here has really engaged in co-production with their communities.

I’m curious:

  1. How do you currently collect community feedback for your product (or service)?

  2. What specifically do you do with it?

  3. Can you think of any communities who are doing a really good/innovative job in this area?

  4. Have you seen any real/genuine co-creation in terms of product teams working with actual (!) customers to create new features?

  5. What methods have you found successful in landing a ‘Thanks for the idea but we’re not going to implement this’ type response?

Keen to hear your thoughts on this.

(Sarah Hawk) #2

Yay! Stoked for you. They’re lucky to have you.

So back on topic – we do this.

We have a features category where we openly discuss each suggestion. We work with actual customers!

If it has legs we either accept it into core and someone on the team builds it or we tag it with a #pr-welcome tag (which means someone from the community can write it and submit a pull request). If we’re not keen on it we reject it with a reason.

(Joel Zaslofsky) #3

I believe the community I run, The Puttytribe, does a great job with co-creation and being genuinely member-led. I’m happy to verbally discuss the context and details with you if you like, Liz.

Your challenges will be different because we don’t have product teams and we’re a paid community offering a service (instead of one surrounding a product), but it might be worth a chat.

I’ll send you a PM for more.

(Liz Crampton) #4

Thanks @HAWK!

That’s really interesting, you put a lot of responsibility on the user to check for duplicates and have guidance on how to write a good feature request which we definitely need to do. I like how transparent you guys are too around your decision-making process.

What’s your timeframe for developing those features would you say and what’s the best community suggestions that Discourse has implemented?

Thanks @JoelZaslofsky - definitely PM me more info :slight_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #5

It completely depends on how much work needs to be done/how big the job is. Usually we turn them around pretty quickly or warn that they’ll be part of the next stable release.

Not sure I can answer that as I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention before I started working there. Lots of the core functionality is the result of community requests.

(Jason Hill) #6

I previously managed a support community that used the Lithium platform and introduced an idea exchange. Customers loved it! But it was very difficult to manage.

Obviously you have inherited an existing idea exchange, so this is more general advice for anyone, but my number one recommendation to anyone before they proceed with a formal and public idea exchange is make sure you have firm commitment from your product management team about their level of involvement. Train them to use the system in a staging environment before launch so they can get a feel for how to respond to clients, change the status of ideas, search for posts, export data, etc. Deal with any concerns they have prior to launch.

At my previous organisation I got commitment from the head of our product management team that all the product managers would be active, but it was a constant struggle to keep them involved as they initially didn’t find it easy to use and were soon overwhelmed by the size of the task. Responsibility for the platform ended up falling on my support team.

You can expect customers to love the idea exchange, but managing it does require significant time investment. Don’t underestimate the level of management required, particularly as time goes on. It is a big commitment and can have huge rewards if you get it right. But if it is poorly implemented or poorly managed, it could do much more harm than good to your organisation. I consider it a very public window into an organisation.

And quick tip for number 5, don’t ever totally rule out an idea, no matter how stupid it seems. Business priorities often change. Product managers change even more often…

Good luck!


(Liz Crampton) #7

Hi @JasonHill, thanks so much for this info, I think that’s really insightful.

We’re using lithium as well and you’re absolutely right about needing commitment from product - I think that’s what makes it challenging, is that there are processes and a culture-shift required. Tbh, I hadn’t even thought of training product and involving them that directly in the conversation… at the moment I think the feedback loop is mainly through reactive reporting when they want stats on a certain feature but that is certainly an ideal level of involvement.

You’re absolutely right - it is a very public window into the organisation and also product development and company intentions, so the more transparent you are about that, the easier it is to answer customer inquires and categorize suggestions.

Good tip about priorities changing!! That’s v true.

Thanks a bunch.