Transforming product feedback into actionable solutions
Feedback Manager is a tool created to allow CDK associates to gather feedback around specific products from both internal stakeholders and external clients and to review, triage, and act upon it, getting it in front of the appropriate teams to respond to or resolve the feedback received.
I was the principal UX Designer and Front-end Engineer throughout the project cycle, from planning, user research, and requirements gathering to visual design, prototyping, and implementation. I pitched the initial idea for the project in 2013, and with the support of the Executive Leadership Team I collaborated with project managers to perform user research and gather requirements from cross-functional stakeholders before building out the application as the sole product designer and developer. Following the launch of the product in 2015 I continued to perform on-going maintenance, optimizations, and enhancements through 2021.
- User Experience
- Visual Design
- User Research
- User Testing
- Information Architecture
- Front-end Engineering
- Full-stack Development
- Project Management
Creating a feedback-reporting channel to get feedback in front of the right people
The company had several customer-facing web products and marketing tools that were constantly being developed and enhanced by the Product team, but no official channel through which to gather feedback on those products. Oftentimes, as the various teams within the company had tendencies to work within isolated silos, such feedback would be received by customer-facing Services teams, either directly from customers or from fellow associates that use the tools, but with no official channel to report that feedback to and no process around filtering that feedback to the Product team, the feedback would most often be lost or forgotten.
A centralized feedback gathering platform for cross-functional collaboration, communication, and resolution
Ultimately what we needed was a new tool for reporting feedback and new processes to ensure that the feedback went through the proper processing cycle.
I collaborated with stakeholders and leaders within the Services group and partnered with the Services Engagement Team to gather requirements and perform user research in order to build the best possible feedback intake tool to meet the needs of all cross-functional teams. One of the key failures previously was feedback not getting where it needed to go because of a lack of cross-functional communication, so it was important to ensure that this tool was accessible to everyone regardless of team.
We identified several stakeholders and performed interviews, establishing scope and requirements, and I performed concurrent analagous research to determine if any pre-existing solutions could be leveraged. In the end, in order to meet all stakeholder requirements, we needed to build a custom in-house solution for which I also served as principal product designer and front-end developer. The product I created was Feedback Manager, an internal enterprise web application hosted on a virtual LAMP server.
There was a three-step process for the collection and management of product feedback in the Feedback Manager tool:
- Input: users submit feedback via a web form available on the feedback collection platform front-end
- Management: submitted issues accumulate within a content management system where appointed associates triage and validate issues
- Output: triaged issues are prioritized and assigned to the appropriate team or individual for development or resolution
Where does feedback come from? Anyone. Everyone.
Input #1, Internal Users
Internal users are CDK associates in the Services group who interface directly with customers and external product users and have ideas for enhancements, suggestions for new tools or process improvements, or who want to report a bug or other issue that requires escalation.
Input #2, External Users
External users are customers of the business who interface with the Services group that have feedback on external-facing products, ideas for enhancements, questions or support requests, or who want to report a bug or other issue that requires escalation.
Where is feedback submitted? In any internal product.
Because of the nature of the feedback collection tool being a web form, that form—or a link to it—can be embedded in any product, tool, or internal system. With such flexibility we can create a new call-to-action for feedback submission literally anywhere and everywhere.
1. Feedback Input
The pre-existing process for gathering feedback from users (both internal and external) required representatives of the Product team to schedule individual sessions with selected associates or customers to gather their feedback. This method did not work well because:
- It was not standardized
- It was resource intensive
- It required a high level of manual effort
- It was difficult to track
- It was not scalable
- It was restricted to a smaller range of associates or customers
- It could not be submitted directly from products and tools
In the new feedback process, we would work with product and tool owners, administrators, and developers to integrate the feedback call-to-action where users can easily access it to submit their feedback without the need to personally contact or interface with a representative of the Product team.
Where does the feedback go? To the management solution.
2. Feedback Management
The final product was Feedback Manager, a custom solution built from scratch to meet all defined requirements for a feedback management platform.
The primary features of the management solution were:
- A custom web form with specific fields for collecting feedback
- A simple dashboard showing all submitted feedback, sorted by date
- A drill-down page showing all details of a particular feedback item, including relevant dates and products
- A commenting system allowing users to add detail and engage with others
- A search page with the ability to search and filter for feedback by keyword and other field criteria
- An Export function to save the data as a spreadsheet file
- Assigning and sharing features to allow collaboration and prioritization
3. Feedback Output
Follow-up and Prioritization
What is done with received feedback?
The Services Engagement Team will:
- Use the Feedback Manager tool to review and triage all submitted feedback, changing statuses and assigning to associates accordingly
- Connect with appropriate teams to hand off feedback/issues relevant to them
- Establish a prioritized backlog of action items to be addressed based on feedback received
- Track all triaged issues, steps taken toward resolution, and follow-up for all prioritized feedback items
Feedback Manager was a constantly evolving project, with regular releases going out consistently over the six years that I worked on it. It began in a much more barebones form in the beginning but gained several key features over the years that made it a highly valuable tool to the company. Cross-functional collaboration between the Services and Product teams skyrocketed after the launch of the tool, and the flow of actionable feedback improved, allowing the Product team to more accurately tailor products and services to customer needs.
The Services Engagement Team, whom I partnered with in the creation of the tool, grew to become fully reliant on the Feedback Manager application in their work, developing processes and workflows that centered around it. It was a new team at the time, but thanks to the feedback tool they became a core operational group in the company, integral to maintaining synergy between the Services and Product groups. I am proud to have pitched, created, and maintained something that provided so much value to the company, and by association, to the customers as well.