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Collaboration with Customer-Facing Teams is Product Management

Updated: Feb 14

ronke article

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Product teams put a lot of emphasis on external client feedback, observation, and input, which significantly matters; however, what truly helps us complete the story of our products or services is the insights we get from our client-facing teams.

Efficacious products have multiple elements and components that make them exactly that. One of the main building blocks is insights and feedback from our customer-focused teams, such as sales, customer support/technical support, and client success/relationship management. These units play a crucial role in the continued success of our products, services, and organizations.

Why is Product Insight from Customer-Facing Teams Important?

While Product Managers are the epicenter of our organizations, customer-facing teams are our customers' eyes, ears, and voices. These teams influence our organization‘s mission and objectives; they also imprint our product roadmaps and prioritization of features and functionalities. Here is a deep dive into their wealth of information for our organization and teams.

1. Sales Team

The sales teams are well acquainted with our prospects and clients' language. What they call the features and functionalities they want, why they need them, what problems they will solve, and their significance in their own companies.

The sales team can support product leaders in our exploration by providing a thorough understanding of how the new product or feature stacks up in the marketplace and a strategic perspective of the business. They have tremendous information because they speak to prospective and existing clientele. For example, during research and discovery, the sales team can shed some light on the types of clients who will purchase a new product and engage with the new feature we are planning to build. Additionally, they can help us understand if we are solving the right problems for our customers.

2. Client Success/Relationship Management Teams

The client success/relationship management teams help turn our customers into repeat buyers who are brand loyal. These teams are responsible for assisting clients in meeting their objectives and goals with the help of our services/products. As an outcome, we have increased client retention experiences and strengthened relationships with our clients, which leads to the upselling and cross-selling of additional products or services and amplifies business growth and supplementary recurring revenue.

3. Customer Support/Technical Support

The team that has a stockpile of customer information is the customer support/technical support team. They’ve got their finger on the pulse of our customers and awareness of how they will react to product changes. They tend to have personal relationships with clients, most notably the power users. They can provide product teams with a list of onboarding and servicing issues and the workarounds they have employed. They can help prioritize the critical issues that need to be addressed quickly.

On a personal note, I have a lot of empathy for the customer support/technical support teams. When there are critical issues with our products or services, they are dealing with angry customers on the frontline. I always make a point of treating these teams to the occasional cupcakes, bagels, or donuts. After all, there are not enough words for me to convey how valuable their work is to my success as a product leader.

The Value of Anonymous Surveys

Client-facing teams have considerable responsibilities in our organizations. Product leaders need them and their help to understand the ever-changing needs of our customer base. Our customers will not come to us, and our client-focused teams enable us to meet our clientele where they are. Therefore, it is paramount that product teams capture and manage feedback and observations coming from customer-centric teams. We need to take their pulse regularly by conducting anonymous surveys.

We need the surveys to be uncredited so that we can learn things such as the challenges and difficulties they face selling, supporting, upselling, and cross-selling our products and services. The chances of gaining insights are better when people can share anonymously.

Before Survey Steps

Before sending surveys, product leaders should meet with the managers of each client-facing team to discuss the objectives and why the survey is needed to capture the sentiments and problems we need to be aware of. The questionnaire is also shared so these leaders can review and amend it if required. Once we have their buy-in, we ask them to encourage their teams to complete the survey.

Example Survey Questions by Client-Facing Teams

Sales Team Survey Questions

  1. What are the top 3 features of [ product ] that you sell to customers?

  2. What are the top 3 benefits of [ product ] that you sell to customers?

  3. What are the top 3 objections you hear from customers when selling [ product ]?

  4. How do you overcome these objections?

  5. What is the success rate in selling [ product ]?

  6. What best practices have you learned from selling [ product ]?

  7. What are the challenges that you face when selling [ product ]?

  8. What are your recommendations for improving the sales process for [ product ]?

Client Success/Relationship Management Teams Survey Questions

  1. What are the top challenges you face when selling [ product ]?

  2. What features of [ product ] do you find most helpful in selling it?

  3. What would make it easier for you to sell [ product ]?

  4. What kind of training or support would you like to have on [ product ]?

  5. What are your thoughts on the pricing of [ product ]?

  6. What are your thoughts on the competition for [ product ]?

  7. What are your thoughts on the overall value of [ product ]?

  8. Would you recommend [ product ] to other businesses?

  9. What else would you like to tell us about [ product ]?

Customer Support/Technical Support Survey Questions

  1. How long have you been providing technical support for [ product ]?

  2. What are the most common challenges you face when helping to support [ product ]?

  3. How often do you encounter these challenges? Are there repeat challenges?

  4. How long does it typically take you to resolve these challenges?

  5. What would make your job easier when supporting [ product ]?

  6. What are your suggestions for improving [ product ]?

Steps After the Survey

Product leaders will create a presentation once the survey is complete, including the survey questions, responses, and next steps. For example, if the feedback includes that product training is needed, more marketing collateral is desired, or the sales team needs help overcoming objections from prospects, it should be noted on the report. The presentation should be shared with the product leadership team first to get their buy-in and thoughts before sending it to the customer-focused teams’ managers and leaders for review.

The following steps should encompass solutions if readily available. For the other items, the action plan should include a working session with marketing partners and the managers from the client-facing teams to ensure alignment on the proposition and resolutions.

Final Thoughts

The story of our product has multiple timelines and chapters. One of the indispensable chapters is the collaboration and customer insights our client-focused teams can provide us. If we, product leaders, seek them out for input and feedback, we have a tremendous opportunity to learn more about our customer base, prospects, market conditions, and competitors. This enables us to innovate and build solutions to problems that our clients don’t even realize they have yet, and we can do this because our client-facing teams help us to meet our customers where they are, thereby enabling us to win their hearts and loyalty.

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