How community feedback is helping us build Coconut

How community feedback is helping us build Coconut

When you’re developing a new product the most important group of people is your 'early' community.

Every customer faces challenges that your product has the potential to solve. And every customer has a different motivation to share valuable feedback which you need to harness to build the best product possible.

When we first started developing Coconut, the current account for freelancers and self-employed people, we wanted to capture the challenges of our customers so that we could build something that solves their biggest problems - in our case expenses and tax.

Social media has proved an incredible channel for us to engage with our early community and gather valuable feedback...

Create a community space

We very quickly learned that it wasn’t enough to collect data through feedback forms and surveys. In order to capture the energy of a new and growing community, understand the solutions they need, and keep them informed and engaged with plans, we needed to bring everyone together into one place.

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This was why we created our Facebook group, Coconut Bite - a home for anyone interested in the Coconut product.

It was a little lonely in there at first so in order to drive traffic to the group, we started to shout about it. We added links to the group from our welcome emails; capturing customers at their most engaged point (i.e. just as they’d made the decision to invest in our product).

The links within these emails drove around 10-20% of website signups to join Coconut Bite, and now we have 1,800 members from a waiting list of over 10,000.

Define the narrative

The challenge with public groups is that anyone can post anything they want so it’s important to stay on top of things with relevant and valuable content. We are very responsive in the group, so that we can reply to questions when they arise and help people with any issues.

Like most communities, ours is made up of a diverse range of people from varying industries and backgrounds. On one hand, this is brilliant because we see how and why a wide range of people use our product. But on the other, there is the potential for it become a bit muddled, with an overwhelming array of conversations and questions that may not be relevant for everyone.

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That’s why we’re clear about the purpose of our group by pinning a post to the top with the rules of engagement. It’s a home for our entire community, a place to stay up to date, share ideas and influence how the product develops. We actively tell people this is a place for conversation about our product, and lead by example with insider news, product updates and relevant content.

Community evolution

As the group has grown, things have naturally changed. We’ve found that since launching the product at the end of January this year there have been more support questions going into the group, for example.

We want the group to be focused on features and news so that members who aren’t customers yet still enjoy being in there and get value from it. So we’re looking at ways to move support queries out. This will ensure that Coconut Bite remains a space for valuable and interesting content that sparks conversation.

And we’re already seeing a tipping point, as the group has grown people are asking more questions and sharing more feature requests. Customers are also actively answering each other’s financial questions, or feeding back on discussions about product ideas which is incredible for us to see.

The depth of feedback we receive through such open, two-way conversation is incredibly powerful and something we’re very grateful for.

Let your community have a voice

Just as our community members use the product in a hundred different ways, they also like to get in touch with us through lots of different channels. To ensure there are no barriers to feedback, we accept contact through as many channels as possible.

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To make sure we don’t miss any messages, we’ve connected Facebook, Twitter and emails we receive to our customer messaging tool, Intercom, alongside any in-app chats or messages through our Help centre. The whole team has access to this and everything gets posted to Slack as it happens.

Sometimes we try and continue the conversation with customers on the phone or face-to-face to get extra feedback. Plus, we provide links to feedback forms throughout our product-based communications so people can share their thinking with us when we’re not around too.

Showing the impact of the feedback

We’ve found that people provide more feedback when they know it’s going to have an impact on our product.

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Our product roadmap is public and open for people to comment and vote. Customers are welcome to add their own ideas and provide detailed insights, as well as vote on existing features that they’d like to see.

When a customer makes a suggestion via any of our feedback channels, we show them that we’ve added it to our product roadmap. This makes sure that our community’s needs are part of the conversation, and the features we introduce are relevant and valuable.

Sometimes hard, but always for the best

Bringing the community together like this and making our customers part of our development process has meant that we’ve built a much better product. In the beginning it didn’t come naturally for us to be so open and sometimes the conversation can be challenging, especially when a customer has had a bad experience and you’ve not met their expectations.

But we’ve found that letting the community have a voice about both good stuff and bad has meant we’ve been able to create a much better product for them and our future customers too.

We’re grateful for everyone’s input so far. We’re here to solve our customers’ biggest problems, so will continue to rely heavily on input from our community as we grow and build new features.

Course review: User Experience Design (General Assembly)

Course review: User Experience Design (General Assembly)

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