I have a working theory that perhaps providing a simple email address for customers in a web application is enough to get good quality feedback. Let me try to explain why.
These thoughts apply to a product still in it's early stages of product market fit and one that perhaps doesn't benefit from those ticket delegation management dashboard things that are out there.
Reduction in noise
Having a support tool that makes commenting and posting easy makes it too easy for people to complain. Meaning I've ended up getting lots of people commenting on what they think is best to do.
Like a designer telling you what colours you should use, how the typeface is wrong. Somebody telling you how you should do things differently with an area of your application. They never know the thought or reasoning. So you spend time explaining it and perhaps getting into a debate.
Does this really help you get more paying customers? Not to me, I just find it adds more time having to explain ourselves to all users, whether they are paying or not.
I'm all ok explaining our thinking and decisions but not when our time is limited.
Barrier adds to validation
Making it harder to provide feedback is product validation itself. Allowing me to see who really cares enough to send information on bugs or feedback.
They will spend time opening up their email and sending one. This matters when our time is limited, I only end up talking to customers that matter.
Public support threads, are um public
On some support tools you can have public threads, so when users discuss a problem, it's public. My thinking previously on this was that it's fine, because you'll show how you're improving the situation and dealing with it.
But what about those cases where it's a matter of opinion and you choose something the customer disagrees with. Or feature creep starts to mean you're adding too many product directions making things confusing and hard to please your customer base, because it's getting too broad.
This just ends up being a negative post about your product and team. Something that perhaps would better dealt with privately and directly.
There will be no need to pay for another service. We can use a shared email address and have the team reply to incoming emails as they come.
An example of simple support I used the other day was Mixpanel. They simply have a 'support' link that points to an email address. I cared about the feature I wanted improved so I spent the time doing the email dance.
Our most recent product Caliper, we're trying this method and we're finding the results less noisy and much higher in value, so I'm going to continue.