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Feature Requests Process Challenge: A Dance Between Butter, Cream Cheese, and Personalized Delight

The eternal dilemma of choice: customization or standardization? For businesses, this question translates into a strategic conundrum of product offerings, service dynamics, customer satisfaction, and potential growth avenues

The Customer Feature Request Input Challenge
Leveraging Customer Product Requests To Fuel Innovation

Last week, my friend and colleague Bhagya and I got together to get some face time and complete some pending tasks. We were to meet at a Regus co-working space near my home. Bhagya, an early bird who thrives on breakfast, sought to fuel his morning with a quick pick-me-up. On his way, he stopped at a drive-through bagel shop. The bagel store was swarming with customers. A testament to its popularity.

There, amid the morning rush, teenage employees darted back and forth, rushing to customer car windows. Their aim, take orders and reduce waiting times. Bhagya requested a bagel – half of it slathered in butter, the other lavishly spread with cream cheese. Surprised and somewhat disconcerted, the server responded that it wasn’t possible. The bagel could be ordained with either butter or cream cheese, not both. Bhagya, taken aback, insisted that it was a simple request and asked if they could accommodate. The server, apologetic but firm, explained that it was against their process.

Joining me at Regus, a co-working space, Bhagya recounted the incident with a tinge of disappointment. He felt his request was straightforward, and the bagel shop’s inflexibility had dampened his experience. His sentiments were not lost on me.

In his 1922 autobiography, “My Life and Work,” automobile magnate Henry Ford recounted a sales meeting in 1909. When a salesman proposed adding more models, Ford resisted the temptation, vowing to build just one model, ‘Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.’ [1][2]

This narrative raises a pertinent question: Should businesses opt for standardization or customization?

We don’t see a dichotomy between these two options. To enhance profitability and customer experience, businesses should strive for a harmonious blend of both. Whether you’re a SaaS product offering a unified experience or a bagel shop, incorporating customer feedback is vital in evolving a more robust and richer product or service. Naturally, not all customer requests can or will be entertained, necessitating a structured approach to feedback management.

The common strategy is to pay attention to the demands of strategic customers or allocate resources to the most frequent requests. In the absence of anything better, these are certainly fine strategies. We have identified two primary gaps in request management — ineffective listening posts/data collection mechanisms and a lack of systems (and processes) for evaluating and appropriately responding to customer requests.

To overcome these challenges, we propose a three-point process that companies can adopt based on their tooling and organization setup. This process has three distinct steps:

  • Collection and Classification The collection process should be a combination of direct stakeholder feedback and telemetry. The best point of collection is closest to the user experience.

  • Distillation and Dissection Distillation entails filtering impactful customer requests based on predetermined criteria and earmarking them on the roadmap (yes, another aspect of filtering is that a large set of requests will get the boot). Dissection refers to deconstructing customer requests into manageable chunks for continual improvement. In the software development context, this could mean breaking down customer requests into user stories and individual sprints.

  • Delivery and Dissemination Delivery is about making product updates available after testing accompanied with necessary documentation and support. Dissemination refers to closing the loop with the stakeholders who made the requests, emphasizing their contribution, and sharing the availability of new features with all users.

For an in-depth guide to establishing an effective enhancement request process, please refer to our upcoming detailed piece on product enhancement blog post.

Circling back to the bagel shop – can you envision creative ways for them to collect customer feedback? One idea could be to install a “Feedback” button on their order-taking tablets, prompting employees to log a customer’s request each time they have to decline. They could gamify the process to encourage participation, offering rewards to employees collecting the most feedback. They might even allow customers to record their suggestions directly. This approach could uncover business opportunities the management may never have considered, sparking innovation and driving growth.

Innovation can flow in many ways. Customer feedback is one such way that could make companies wildly successful and quirkily endearing. There are other levers, but that, dear reader, is a tale for another time.

[1] Sullivan, B. “”Any Color the Customer Wants, as Long as It’s Black.” Henry Ford.” James Madison Museum, 15 Feb. 2023,

[2] McIntosh, Jil. True or False: Did Ford really say “Any color the customer wants, as long as it’s black? November 3, 2021,

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