The Community Feedback Loop

February 17, 2016 — by Vanessa Penagos-Pino0



The Community Feedback Loop

February 17, 2016 — by Vanessa Penagos-Pino0

The Community Feedback LoopAs community managers some of the (many) responsibilities we’re tasked with include sourcing, prioritizing, and responding to feedback from our users and customers. Recently, the #CMGRHangout discussed The Community Feedback Loop and the role feedback plays for community managers. Whether you’re new to managing a community or have several years under your belt, the following tips from the panel can be applied regardless of your community manager cred.

Document a process for community feedback

This tip was offered by Jen Chen and resonated with a few other members on the panel. Personally, I’m a big supporter of this idea, but let’s face it─sometimes communicating a process within any organization, big or small, may not always be the easiest. This is where using programs like Visio (or a similar flowchart diagraming tool) can be of help. By mapping out the steps involved in sourcing, prioritizing, and implementing your community feedback, a flowchart provides a visual go-to guide. Reviewing such documentation with the individuals involved is also a step toward team members being on the same page, as well as more consistent results regarding user feedback.

Don’t forget your users are humans, too

Providing community feedback should be easy for your users. Although you may have a centralized hub for soliciting feedback, it’s just as important to be where your customers are. In an ideal scenario one may think users should route their feedback through one particular channel, but that’s not realistic. Set up listening posts, monitor, and moderate via mediums most frequented by your users.

When responding to feedback, especially in a public setting, keeping the human element in your response is critical. In other words: don’t use automated responses and do put yourself in your user’s shoes. As a representative of your organization, it’s possible to become too close to the task at hand and the value of feedback can become diluted (unintentionally of course). As Sarah Lang pointed out, each user feels his/her feedback is of the utmost importance and it’s our job as community managers to make them feel heard.

Direct feedback is certainly valuable, but consider how your organization could also utilize indirect feedback. For instance, working with your UX or data team can uncover features or sections underutilized by your users and how to improve them, whether it’s through additional training or informational content.

Balancing community feedback and implementation

Although documenting a feedback strategy was mentioned above, several more tips on balancing feedback and implementation include:

  • Be consistent when soliciting feedback. In other words, try to avoid only asking for feedback when something may be viewed negatively or does not launch as expected.
  • Prioritize. Attempting to implement all user feedback may not be ideal, but consider making tiers or buckets for the critical few and build out processes for each.
  • Manage expectations. When responding to feedback, be transparent. Each suggestion is an opportunity to make your user feel heard. If a user’s suggestion is not on your organization’s roadmap, it’s perfectly reasonable to communicate this. However, consider providing your user with insight into what is on the roadmap. Doing so can help your users feel valued by being “in the know.”

How are you making the most of community feedback? Share your experience and tips below. For the full recap of useful tips covered by the panel, check out the #CMGRHangout session.

Vanessa Penagos-Pino

Content & Inbound Marketing Director at 1-800-PetMeds
Vanessa is an enthusiast of all things tech, marketing, art, and 8-bit related. Her role at 1-800-PetMeds provides the opportunity to combine her love of pets with over 10 years of digital marketing experience. She is a perpetual learner fueled by a growth mindset and creative expression ─ cold brew coffee also helps.