Saying no to feature requests

July 31, 2022
6 mins read
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There will always be someone who wants more from product managers’ products as long as he/she has one. People want new features, existing ones enhanced, or even entirely new products that are only tangentially related to the one product manager along with the team is currently developing. 

For example, an analytics platform like Segment is likely to receive numerous requests for integrations and may even build some. Not all feature requests, however, are made equal. 

It's often easy to discern if a feature request will be fulfilled by a product managers’ company, but it's not always the case. 

What are some of the best approaches product managers’ can inculcate to deal with additional feature requests that either don't fit in their product plan or are viable but not in the near future? 

Some clients have unreasonable expectations, some make the right suggestions at the wrong moment, and some requests simply take too much time and money to complete. The feature request is incomprehensible. 

First and foremost, it's critical to comprehend why consumer trust is so critical to a successful business. Then the product manager can start to figure out how to build that trust while still delivering potentially painful news of saying NO.

But What Are the Reasons to Say NO to Feature Requests? 

1. Insufficient Information 

Not having enough or relevant information is the most common reason that the product team rejects feature requests. Wanting a specific request isn't enough; a product manager needs to have accurate information on why and how that feature will help other people out there and what value it will bring. The structure of the feature and the timing of its launch also means a lot. 

All it requires is proper communication with the relevant and verified information. 

2. Doesn't Match with the Product Vision 

Effective product management comes down to resource allocation for multiple reasons. So, prioritizing what makes the cut is core to the role. Many ideas possess merits worthy of consideration, but only a fraction can actually get done only if the product's vision is aligned well. 

3. Request is Specific to a Single Customer 

Every company has its own manner of doing business. However, if the organization has a large customer base, prioritizing a few users becomes difficult, as the objective is to give value to the entire customer base becomes a necessity. Consumers with the specified requests, on the other hand, dislike hearing NO since it makes little difference to them whether or not their request is worthwhile or helpful to other users. So, if the product manager has to deal with such situations and people, he/she must be wise because the harsh reality is that they will not be able to settle their edge case. Either work through it or come up with a solution.

4. Little/NO Demand 

It is self-evident that features will only be developed if they are needed. It is pointless to be in business or the market if there is no demand for the feature. As a result, product teams with the guidance of the product manager will frequently stockpile unique ideas that they haven't heard before but won't work on them until they have more information on pain points and customer demand. 

It's all about the timing. And if the development team understands this, it will be evident whether the feature should be kept in the line or simply cut till demand appears. When features are added without first verifying demand, the consequence is pretty much intense. Building and maintaining a feature that few people desire or need will waste development work. 

But remember, when dealing with clients, the words of the product manager will either strengthen or weaken the companies’ relationship with them. This is why businesses must do so consistently across all customer support channels. 

However, how can the product manager say "No" without compromising the relationship? He/she might consider this a letdown for their customers, but there are methods to do so gracefully and in a way that keeps those customers happy and encourages them to submit feedback again. 

Here’s How a Product Manager Can Do it in a Polite Way

Rejecting Feature Requests 

Product managers can get the impression that turning down a feature request means a customer is no longer a customer. If a product manager says no, customers are unlikely to abandon your product in favor of a competitor. “NO” is preferable to misleading the customer into believing that the manager will roll out a feature that makes no sense in many circumstances. 

Saying no is an important component of the feedback loop, and product managers’ can't always avoid it. The way a product manager tackles the problem will significantly impact what the customer does after you say "NO." 

Instead of responding, "We can't develop that feature for you right now, and it won't be possible in the future," rather, "This feature isn't on our roadmap right now, but there are three alternative approaches a product manager can use to get the same outcomes." They're right here..." 

Acknowledge the Request 

Many feature requests will require a product manager to say NO. As previously stated, there could be a million causes for a negative response. However, a product manager should always make an effort to comprehend why a consumer requested a certain feature.

If the customer made the request, it suggests they have an issue to address, and it's the job of the product manager to figure out what it is. The clients are excellent at identifying problems, but they may not always be adept at identifying solutions; this is where product managers come in. 

The customer's request often exists and can be fulfilled in a different method, and they're simply barking up the wrong tree. If a product manager can solve their problem without satisfying their feature request, then a product manager is not really saying NO; rather helping them solve it. 

Instead of saying no, say something like, "We're afraid we don't have that functionality planned for the foreseeable future." But, please, tell us what you're attempting to do that necessitates it. We're confident we'll be able to develop a workaround for you." 

Allow Your Time to Explain Yourself 

Have you ever submitted a job application and received a response from the organization stating that they preferred another candidate and that they appreciate your time? But the most crucial question remains unanswered: why didn't they hire you? 

It works in a similar way to feature requests. If you, being a product manager, take the time to react to a request and decline, you can spend some more time explaining why you declined. The consumer will better understand your position and future intentions, and they will be more likely to provide you with feedback in the future. 

Show That You Care and That You Are Paying Attention 

Being considerate, kind, and patient are all admirable qualities a product manager needs until they have to deal with reality. A product manager will be bombarded with feature requests if the consumer base is extensive. The most challenging aspect is having to say "NO” quite frequently. In fact, a product manager might be inclined to dismiss the requests or respond with a canned "thank you, but no" response. 

That is one approach, and it is the incorrect one. 

Make sure to respond to every feature request, even if you as a product manager know you won't be able to complete it. If you're rejecting a request, make sure to include the following information: 

● Thank the customer for filling out the form. 

● Express your gratitude for their assistance (and explain specifically with what) 

● Explain why you won't be able to fulfill the request. 

● Provide a solution to their issue. 

Each feature request may appear to be much work, but it's pretty simple. As a product manager you should develop a few templates for each use scenario, and with a bit of copying and pasting and a little imagination.

This way a product manager can quickly and easily say no to feature requests.

Create a Feedback Board to Collect all Requests 

Customers can request features through various channels, including email, live chat, phone, social media, and so on. Instead, use a feedback board to simplify things for yourself and your consumers. 

The procedure is as follows: 

● On a feedback board, a client posts a feature request. 

● Other customers can comment on their requests. 

● The most promising requests are selected and added to a product roadmap. 

This is a well-structured procedure with numerous advantages for all parties involved. Customers can see what others want, making it easy to see if their request is comparable to someone else's. They can also view the complex requests that never got fulfilled and the subsequent comments. 

This is beneficial because it establishes a positive tone right away: it demonstrates that a product manager embraces all feature proposals, is open to conversation, and actively works on whatever its client requires. 

So, suppose a customer requests a feature that is very certainly not going to be implemented. In that case, you may respond, "We don't have this feature in our roadmap right now, but you can submit it to our feedback board so we can think about it and consider it." 

Don't Lead People Astray or Give Them False Hope 

It's always a benefit to be pleasant, but a product manager should never make promises he/she can't keep. It's not easy to turn down customers, and it might scare the product managers’ that if they hear NO, they'll go to a competitor instead. 

There's a slight possibility that this will happen, so don't mislead your clients and offer them false hope that you'll construct a feature that will never see the light of day. Your role as a product manager is to set yourself up for trouble if your customer inquires about the identical feature request again in the future. 

Of course, they can detect if you're lying or speaking the truth based on your roadmap. If the answer is NO, make sure the customer hears it loud and clear. 

Close the Loop on Feedback 

The only thing worse than receiving a negative response to a feature request is not receiving any response. Being a product manager is not an easy task, rather complex and challenging where you're doing yourself a favor and ignoring your clients. But if you don't answer feature requests, make sure you respond to every request, even if it's negative. Keep everyone up to date without sending hundreds of emails that aren't necessary.

How can Zeda.io Aid in the Management of Product Feature Requests? 

Managing feature requests is somehow the most challenging and important aspect. In the product management process, it ensures the customers that you are listening to them and their needs. This helps product managers with flexibility when it's the final time for the creation of the product. 

One important point to remember is that managing product features are similar to product management—specifically, Jira project management. A product manager gathers ideas (feature requests), writes them down on a roadmap, prioritizes them (sprint planning), works on them (sprint retrospective), and tests them (sprint review). 

As a result, a product manager can only effectively manage feature requests if he/she approaches them with a project management attitude. 

In reality, using a powerful project management platform to manage the feature requests can assist a product manager to: 

●Organize all of your feature requests in one location. 

● In one simple interface, collect and manage product feature requests. 

● Maintain a public roadmap so your users can watch your progress as features are being developed and engage consumers while features are being developed. 

● Zeda.io project makes it simple to gather feature requests, prioritize them, track them, and engage users until they're released. 

Summing Up! 

Dealing with feature requests isn't as difficult as it may appear. Even if a product manager has to say NO, make sure the product or consumer will not suffer as a result. In fact, it's a fantastic opportunity for product managers to interact with their audience, learn more about their issues, and come up with fresh methods to add value. 

The most crucial component is to automate the time-consuming tasks so a product manager can spend more time with its consumers. Zeda.io is a great tool to use if you are a product manager and looking for great project management tools. Here at Zeda.io we only have one tool to make it all happen. Our tool will help product managers to collect comments in one spot, keep a visually appealing and functional roadmap, and quickly discuss all aspects of their product. To get started, get in touch with us!

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