The Struggle with Qualitative Insights: Turning Customer Challenges into Opportunities

Georg Vooglaid
3 min readJun 16, 2023

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Hey world,

Earlier this year, we partnered up with Uku Tammet with the aim to help teams build more meaningful products. You know, those magical solutions that truly solve customers’ problems and in consequence move the needle for your business. Our firm belief is that this can only be achieved by talking to your customers.

That said, as companies grow, doing so becomes increasingly difficult. Conversations still happen, but feedback flows in different shapes and forms, lives in siloed environments and mostly runs through various stakeholders, such as sales, support and success teams. It’s like a constant game of telephone, so when the knowledge finally reaches product & engineering teams, there’s either too much data to leverage, or no meaningful data at all.

While our understanding of user behaviour (quantitative analytics) has certainly improved over the past couple of years, there hasn’t been much innovation in how B2B companies capture and evaluate customer feedback. Why is that?

To answer this, let’s look at the problems a bit more in depth:

A significant manual workload for product teams

Product managers spend a lot of time shifting through support tickets or sales transcripts, categorising the inputs from stakeholders and turning them into PRD’s. While this no doubt leads to an in depth understanding of your customer base, the effort required can also mean that it never becomes a true habit.

Difficulties in finding and setting up customer interviews

“I heard this mentioned by X, I wonder who else has this problem?” is a common question across product teams. Finding the right customers to talk to and quantifying the impact of each opportunity is a complex coordination act between different teams, involving human bias and mixed priorities.

All stakeholders feeling neglected

Let’s say you submit feedback four times and see no progress. Would you not lose trust in the process? This applies both to customers and customer-facing teams. Without centralised insights, challenges fall through the cracks. Similarly, if product teams’ contribute to getting prospects over the line, their work often goes unnoticed.

Qualitative research is all about finding the “why” behind the problem. Understanding that is fundamental to any product’s impact, yet given its characteristic lack of structure, some teams ignore it and some jump at every opportunity with little proof (often based on who makes the most noise). There are also companies, who tackle this by establishing cool cultural norms, such as everyone doing support calls (shoutout to Wise), but even that doesn’t solve the problems listed above.

To help all teams build more impactful products, we need to fundamentally rethink how we treat customers’ feedback and build it natively into the product development process and tooling. And that’s what we’ve been up to for the past couple of months.

Starting with AI-powered insight detection and automatic categorisation of trends across all your feedback sources, Align is building the intelligence layer for all your customer conversations.

Stay tuned and sign up for early access here.