Long Pressed #8: Feature Requests

No, unfortunately this week’s issue isn’t a request for feature ideas from readers, although we do take pattern requests!


When framed properly and handled with care we believe Feature Requests are a powerful pattern. As you'll see, the antipatterns are in our own behavior as a response to a feature request, not in our customer's behavior in initiating one.

If you talk to a customer and they ask you for a new feature, or they tell you how they think something should work, what's your reaction? Is it any of these? 👇

  • Come up with reasons why we won't do it

  • Commit to doing something "like that" in the future

  • Write it down, let them know we wrote it down, and move on

  • Change the subject

  • Commit to changing our priorities and work on it instead

Solution

Reframe your conversation with the customer from supply, you've been supplied a feature request, to demand, there could be an underlying struggle to make progress that you need to discover by digging deeper.

We recommend a simple heuristic. Identify the problem that the customer is trying to solve with their request and ask them what they're doing today to solve that problem instead.

If they’re demonstrating a suboptimal, compensating behavior then it will be worth your time to explore. At the very least you’ll have an interesting conversation. If they're not doing anything to solve that problem, then you need to ask yourself whether there's a problem worth solving and consider having a teaching moment.

Claims

Customers are more likely to dig deeper into their own struggles and provide you with further insights when you help to reframe their thinking and encourage thoughtful discussion.

Related Patterns

Culture Fit - When hiring, consider the interactions a candidate will have with the customer. Do they have the emotional intelligence and self awareness to reframe instead of react?

In Hunting for Jobs (to-be-done) we focus on discovering the real reasons why our customers hire and fire our products.

Avoid

Developing a solution on the spot with the customer or talking about your own feature ideas. Use time with customers to identify demand, where do they really struggle to make progress?

Antipatterns

Unconscious Bias - many of the problems related to this pattern can be associated with biases we have about our customers! Recognize them and be thoughtful and purposeful instead.

Further Reading


Each week we feature a pattern from Long Pressed - a highly connected graph of product, people, software and design patterns that explores the way we work.

Share