Cycle vs. Productboard: Which one's right for you? AI features and data model comparison

This is not your typical, overly biased, blog article on why Cycle’s better than Productboard.

As April Dunford states it:

“We do not compete with products or companies - we compete with approaches. All approaches are valid - it depends on the customer's situation.”

Since you landed on this article, it means you’re considering Productboard or Cycle to help you collect customer feedback, scope what to build next and close feedback loops.

Modern product teams choose Cycle’s approach over Productboard’s.

But why? Let’s have a look

There are as many ways to ship products as there are product teams

Products that lack flexibility usually fail to meet the expectations of power users, while products that lack opinions can be confusing and hard to use. Striking the right balance between the two is critical.

We’re strong believers that there are as many ways to ship products as there are product teams. Yet, we do have strong opinions on how to help you do it well .

Productboard opted for an opinionated data-model, forcing your product information into components > features > sub-features.

Cycle’s approach is different. By default, everyone has access to "feedback", "insight", "feature" & "release" objects. But we created a way for users to customize these objects to their individual needs.

Below you can see an example of a setup in which a user has created 5 different objects: "goal", "need", "feature", "dev" & "design".

Your product, your terminology.

There's more. You can actually customize the relationships you want to have between your custom objects. In the example above, "goals" can be broken down into "needs", which themselves can be broken down into "features". We basically allow for multi-level nesting across objects. That's our custom hierarchy feature. Definitely the most powerful aspect of our data model.

Built for collaborative teams

The best product teams are excellent collaborators. The product should never be a “black box” to the rest of the company. Yet, this is the number one complaint we heard from previous Productboard customers: “Nobody else than the product team ever goes into Productboard, it’s not a collaborative space”.

We built Cycle with collaboration in mind from the beginning. Live activity indicators, @mentions, in-line comments, advanced notification preferences, cross-source feedback loops, the list goes on.

A collaborative space

You need a special kind of tool to support & collaborate on volumes of unstructured data. Slack messages, call recordings (sales, CS, user interviews), screenshots, support tickets, NPS survey, … it’s a mess.

Productboard chose to keep their text editing features to a bare minimum, pushing product teams to turn to separate tools like Notion or Coda to do their work. This systematically results in new information silos, which is the exact problem you’re trying to solve in the first place. 🤷‍♂️

Cycle comes with a rich markdown editor that lets you edit feedback & write specs with nifty “/” commands, images, videos & embeddings. Since product folks spend a lot of time writing, you need a tool with a top-notch writing experience.

Rich markdown

It’s the fastest feedback capture ever created

If you don’t make it buttery smooth for your team to submit feedback, they won’t.

So we asked ourselves: "How could this be even more frictionless".
We've found that the most natural way for folks to capture feedback is to take a screenshot and drop it somewhere – no thinking, no hassle, just drop it.

That’s why we shipped Cycle’s feedback island. From anywhere, just drag & drop a file or a screenshot and watch the island do its feedback magic.

Your team will love how easy it is to drop feedback in our "feedback island"

There's more... Cycle generates optical character recognition (OCR) for your images & PDFs... as well as transcripts for your audio and video files.

Processing feedback no matter their format. OCR has you covered too.

Of course, we integrate with your favorite tools too. Hubspot, Intercom, Freshdesk, Salesforce, Gong, you name it. And, if you’re using a very specific tool, our graphql API got you covered. We’ll be happy to help you with setting up a custom integration.

Productboard also integrates with a bunch of tools. The difference lies in the depth & user-friendliness of the integrations. Since Productboard didn't build a rich markdown editor, their integrations have a hard time letting you capture & format customer context smoothly (images, videos, entire Slack threads, etc.). Oh... and while we're here, Cycle comes with a built-in meeting recorder. This way you don't have to use yet another tool and create an information silo for user interviews & onboarding calls.

Integrates with your tools
“We tried them all, no other software beats Cycle. We redesigned our feedback loop to extract concrete customer insights in no time with the autopilot feature. It’s a no-brainer for any product team.” – Aurélien Georget (CPO at Strapi)

AI engine at its core

Manually processing feedback is a thing of the past.

Productboard users manually go through their feedback inbox, highlight relevant quotes and link them to the right features & customers. The company recently announced it now uses AI to let you generate summaries of feedback and suggest what feature the quotes should be linked to.

At Cycle, we’ve once again taken a different approach: The feedback auto-pilot.

Your Cycle workspace will learn from your company’s context & feature set. Once an initial fine-tuning phase is completed, you’ll be able to put feedback processing on full auto-pilot. Your Cycle AI scans feedback for relevant customer quotes and maps them to existing features.

The feedback auto-pilot

We’ll then generate dashboards displaying trends & abnormalities across your feedback data to help you prioritize. The more data you send to your Cycle workspace, the more accurate the AI will become.

We're also building our very own "Cycle Ask", which you can use to ask any questions about your feedback data.

Ask Cycle

We're working with the very best experts in the field to build AI that blows your mind, saves days of work, and make your product org future-proof.

“Cycle is a slick AI tool that enables teams to build better products by getting smarter on what their customers want.” – Olivier Godement (head of product at OpenAI & Cycle angel investor)

Close feedback loops and build trust, at scale

The key behind every successful feedback system is an effective feedback loop. Feedback shouldn't be seen as a prioritization tool but rather as a tool to create trust. The system breaks when there's no way to close the loop at each release.

By closing the feedback loop with customers, Cycle helps companies improve engagement, trust, and loyalty – ultimately leading to increased revenue. When users see their feedback being implemented, they feel acknowledged and are less likely to churn. It creates a sense of value and trust between the product and its users.

If you've ever opened a support ticket with a software company, you know how frustrating it can be to have them tell you: "This is on our roadmap," or "I'll tell the product team." 🤔 But in many companies, communication between support and product teams is broken. The support team rarely gets an update from the product team... and neither do you.

This changes with Cycle. When the product team marks something as “shipped”, all the related customer insights are automatically updated with the new status. Cycle’s integrations will show this to support agents who can then easily close the feedback loop with users. Without even leaving their support tool. Additionally, your team will get custom status updates notifications by Slack and/or email so they can easily stay on top of things.

Automatic feedback loops to keep your team... in the loop

Productboard also evangelizes closing feedback loops, but I couldn't find their feature to do so in an automated way.

Your product team is most likely being pinged regularly with questions such as "When will this get shipped?" or "Has this bug been fixed?". Now they can simple use our /Cycle-status command to get a quick update on the status fo roadmap items tied to a specific customer.

“What hooked me on Cycle is the ability to close the loop with users. With Cycle, teams can communicate with customers in the right source with the right message when they shipped something they asked. On top of making customers feel special, it leads to higher NPS and increased Net Revenue Retention.” – Alana Goyal (Managing Partner at Base Case)

If you're hooked on Cycle too – Book your onboarding call here. Prepare some raw feedback for the onboarding, we'll start the AI's fine-tuning from there and get straight down to business.