6 Ways to Handle Feature Requests [+The Ideal Process]

Dayana Mayfield profile image

By Dayana Mayfield

Last updated on Wed Apr 10 2024

Feature requests are an integral part of the project management process for SaaS companies. You can discover new ways to improve your product and enhance the trajectory you’ve established on your company's roadmap. Proper handling of feature requests also strengthens the bond between you and your users. They feel listened to and know that you support them and their needs.

Understanding the importance of feature requests is one thing–handling them is another. 

If not properly handled, feature requests can become a time-consuming burden that affects your productivity and scatters the focus of your team.

In this guide, we explore some common ways to handle the feature request process, discuss the ideal process for SaaS companies, and share some management tips.

6 common ways to handle the feature request process

There are many ways to communicate with your clients. By the same token, there are many ways to receive feature requests and lots of tools for managing them. 

Here are some common ways you can handle your feature request process.

1. Idea board with in-app widget

An idea board is a place where ideas can be collected and visualized. For feature requests, an easy-to-use idea board combined with an in-app widget is a great option as it allows your users an easy method to post their requests and provide customer feedback. 

Frill Roadmap Acme

Pros: Idea boards provide clarity, increase customer engagement, and demonstrate a customer focused approach to improvement. Adding an in-app widget also controls the collection of feedback and links the requests to your customers for subsequent communications.

Cons: Your feature requests are more transparent to your clients. If this is an issue for your company, then you will want to consider other methods for obtaining product feature requests.

Tool options: Frill, Upvoty, and Rapidr

2. Website forms

Website forms are a way to collect qualitative and quantitative feedback on your website. They are a great tool when you are looking for solicited feedback.

Pros: Website forms are good for managing data. They’re convenient and efficient, can be changed anytime with immediate effect, and allow for real-time data collection.

Cons: They are time-consuming and expensive to maintain, need to be secured if you want to protect the submitted data, and are vulnerable to “form bots” and survey fraud which will distort your data.

Tool options: Submittable, Jotform, and PandaDoc

3. Surveys

Surveys provide a nice way to collect directed feedback. This works well when you are trying to hone in on specific topics or you want the feedback to be more focused on prioritizing vetted options to develop.

Pros: Surveys are easy to develop, quickly obtain results, and allow for easy statistical analyses.

Cons: You cannot always trust the honesty of answers in surveys and you may receive unclear answers if the question or response options are not clear themselves. 

Tool options: SurvayMonkey, Alchemer, and Qualtrics

4. User research interviews

Interviews are a tried-and-true method of discovering user insights. They can help you gain an in-depth understanding of your users' perceptions, values, and understandings. When paired with other product improvement request methods, interviews can assist in prioritization. 

Pros: Your product is designed to solve a set of specific problems and your roadmap exists to help you navigate your growth. User research interviews allow you to gain a broader insight into the UX of your product for targeted audiences such as your ICP.

Cons: Interviews are very time-consuming. You have to find participants, schedule the calls,  and sift through the notes. They are not good at getting to the “what” which is better addressed by other methods like idea boards. The removed nature of the interview makes it subjective and based on the memory of the interviewee whereas an in-app widget allows the feature request to be made in the moment. 

Tool options: User InterviewsHotjar, and Userfeel

5. Focus groups

Focus groups allow you to gain important insights into customer preferences, behaviors, and opinions. They also provide a great means to test new products, identify needs and wants, evaluate marketing campaigns. There are five main types of focus groups and three categories of interviews–structured, unstructured, and semi-structured.

Pros: Participants are chosen based on targeted criteria. The primary benefit is that it allows you to collect insightful data while connecting with your users. They also produce insightful data, allow for body language observations, and are typically low cost.

Cons: Participants may be shy or unwilling to give information. A lot of preparation is required to select the type of focus group, the right participants, a good moderator, and the questions/discussions to be conducted. There are also challenges in engaging with large groups and keeping the discussion on track.

Tool options: Zoom, Google hangouts, and AdobeConnect

6. Forums and communities

Forums and communities allow your users to discuss issues, post questions, offer solutions, and make comments. They’re a great way to create engagement with your users in an unscripted or semi-scripted manner–you can post prompts and ask open ended questions to gain feature requests. 

Pros: The open-ended nature of the discussions will undoubtedly reveal unique insights and allow you to obtain feature requests more informally. Paired with the right sentiment analysis tool, you can identify pain points that would otherwise be missed. Forums also encourage user engagement, which is always a good thing. 

Cons: Keeping the conversations and discussions on topic is difficult. You will have to comb through a lot of content to find the relevant feature requests, and/or dedicate resources to moderate the content and keep the discussion on track.

Tool options: Zendesk, Discourse, and XenForo

The ideal feature request process for SaaS companies

Follow these seven steps to create the ideal feature requests process for your SaaS business.

1. Set up a feature request board

First, you need to setup your feature request board using your chosen software. If you haven't decided on a software yet, then here are some feature request tools to consider.

Make sure you choose one with a great UX. UX is everything, and the easier it is for your customers to use, the more they will use it. You will also want a feature request board that can integrate with your sign-on process—anonymity won’t allow you to engage with your customers.

Fill’s feature request board is super easy to use and has amazing UX.

2. Add a widget to your web app

Once your feature request board is setup, you’ll want to add an in-app widget. A widget provides a simple convenient way to spread awareness about your designated board for product improvement and for your users to engage with it. 

3. Promote your new feature request system

Promoting your new feature request system is critical. In addition to the in-app widget, you’ll want to add a button to your announcement page, post on social media, write a blog, and send out a one-time email announcement blast. 

4. Prioritize incoming feature requests

Make sure you are prepared to prioritize new feature requests. You will want to consider features that align with your roadmap or current sprints. Another option is the RICE system–which stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. RICE scores new feature requests based on the four criteria and provides an objective method for deciding which features to build.

With Frill you can use the RICE system or build your own prioritization framework.

A prioritization matrix will also help you visualize trends and common requests by pulling data from feature requests and combining them by similar terms and concepts. This makes it easy to decide the next features to implement.


5. Add approved feature requests to your public roadmap

Once a feature request has been approved for development, make sure you add it to your public roadmap. This way your users can see at any time what features are in the product improvement pipeline. Using Frill for your roadmap allows you to drag and drop feature requests in the appropriate columns. Now, your feature request tracking and roadmapping are managed under one roof.


6. Develop top-priority features

Don’t attempt to develop all feature requests. Doing so would cause feature overwhelm and will ultimately dissuade people from using your SaaS product. Stay on target and only develop the top-priority features.

If a feature request does not make the cut, that is ok but be sure to reach out to the requester and let them know you took the time to consider it and why you have decided not to develop it.

7. Announce updates on your changelog

Project managers should write release notes to announce updates to the changelog to share details on what's been built and why. You might even consider producing a short video to go along with the announcement.

Writing release notes with Frill allows you to directly tie the announcement to the exact feature request that prompted it.

For example, we’ve connected the feature request titled “Anonymous Users” to our Anonymous Authentication update.


3 additional tips for managing the feature request process

To make your ideal feature request process even better, consider these additional tips.

1. Allow upvoting

Upvoting is essential for managing feature requests. It is a simple method to increase the quantitative data of a request by allowing users to agree with feature requests submitted by other users. In turn you get a very clear picture on what potential features your clients care about in a consolidated manner. Make sure you offer feature voting as part of your feature request process.

2. Make it easy for users to comment on each other’s requests

Comments provide more context to a feature request and aid in the prioritization of the ideas. The easier it is for your users to comment on each other’s requests, the more qualitative data you will gain. This will generate a more complete picture of what the request may solve.

3. Implement SSO

Single sign-on (SSO) allows users to sign into various platforms with one set of credentials. Implementing SSO simplifies the use of a feature request app and increases customer participation in all aspects of the feature request process. You will also know which customers are submitting which requests and that the people requesting new features are actually your clients.

Ready to handle feature requests for your SaaS company?

Sign up and try one of Frill's low-cost plans and discover how easy the feature request process can be. 

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