When working as a product manager there are two terms you will hear all of the time that are similar but not the same and that is Product Feedback and Product Features. If you are not careful you can accidentally use them interchangeably but in fact they are very different as one presents pain points and the other solves them.

Let’s start with what is product feedback. Product feedback is a response to your product offering which identifies a pain point or opportunity that you need to solve for about your product. Take for example you ask customers for feedback about your product. What you are likely to hear are statements such as “I thought it was too hard to use” or “I wasn’t sure how to get started”. These statements are not in themselves product features for you to run with but instead they are statements from a user that you need to understand as a pain point they experienced and identify solutions to solve them.

With that being said, when you have customer product feedback as a product manager you need to look at what it is your customer is saying really. When they say “I thought it was too hard to use” what you need to do is look at our product and say where is my user experience going wrong. Try to follow up the product feedback with specifics on what steps, actions or screens did the user find hard to use and take a deep dive into the use case or user story that they are trying to complete within your product. From there, create product features to solve those pain points. A product feature is a change to your product to solve pain points or drive opportunities.

Product feedback can come from a variety of sources as well. Your team members such as your support team may let you know that they see an increase in support tickets around certain parts of your product. This information is great feedback as this should be a sign to you that additional features are needed to solve support challenges. Sales teams may let you know that the on boarding customers seem to drop off at a certain step in the process. Again, this is great feedback and based on that product feedback, you can research and create product features to improve the area of your product. A great stream of product feedback comes from your cancelled customers as they typically will be loudest about what they hate the most about your product. This product feedback requires product manages to have thick skin and understand the perspective of the angry customer to be able to take what they are saying and be able to identify solutions to avoid the cancel in the future by defining product features that would have resolved the issues.

When you build your product roadmap, you should be promoting your top features into a release that you feel will solve the most problems and create the largest opportunities for your business. In order to be able to promote the best features, you need to have a steady stream of product feedback to hear what is needed and then be able to see common feedback to weigh product features based on importance and customer impact. One thing to keep in mind however is that not all product feedback will or should result in a corresponding product feature. Product feedback needs to be analyzed and validated that the feedback identifies a pain point or opportunity within the scope of your product vision. For example a customer may provide feedback about your product that it is missing key features for them however the key features are not within the scope of the product you set out to build. In this case you need to close the feedback loop with your customer and explain why the request is outside of your product.