How to respond to product feature requests? Ask “When was the last time”
Don't ask "what" or "why" when users suggest features. Instead, ask "when did you last face this problem?”. This leads to quicker, better solutions.
Here are two examples that illustrate the benefits of asking "when":
See how "what", "why", and "when" can lead to different solutions when handling ticket deletions by contractor.
|What feature do you want?||I don’t want contractors to be able to delete tickets||Contractor role and permissions. Ticket assignee permissions. Admin role to set contractor permissions.||$$$|
|Why do you want this feature?||I need access to all my tickets||Archive folder before permanent delete. Make archive folder visible to admin users.||$$|
|When did you last face this problem?||On the last project an external contractor on our team deleted a ticket by accident, thinking it would only be removed from his view||Update delete confirm modal with a warning displaying the names of other users who will lose access to this ticket (social warning)||$|
Next, see how asking different questions shapes quicker, better solutions for an energy dashboard.
|What feature do you want?||I want a custom dashboard to visualise my building's energy consumption||Data integration. Widget customization. Chart types. Preset templates. Drag and drop functionality. Export capability. External sharing.||$$$$$|
|Why do you want this feature?||I need to report on monthly energy deviations||Data table view. A4 report generator. PDF export. Word export. Custom date range. Company logo. Custom formatting.||$$$|
|When did you last face this problem?||At our last building tenant committee meeting I did not have the utility bills in time and couldn't include the monthly energy consumption figures in the excel sheet prior to the meeting||CSV export of monthly consumption figures.||$|
- Ryan Singer, and Chris Spiek (Hosts). (2017). Demand Thinking. Episode 1: Feature requests aren’t demand.
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