Customer Focused Product Management: A Winning Business Strategy
Updated: Nov 27, 2021
There is the adage: “a great customer experience is a highly successful organizational strategy.”
Customer-Focused organizations value dedication to client satisfaction. These businesses have the capability to continuously develop deep-rooted interactions that are based upon the supply of a service or product. In essence, these companies put a lot of emphasis on constructing trusted connections with their customers.
Any organization‘s success story is dependent on its customers. Bereft of them, they would be without sales or revenue. That means that to achieve success, it is imperative to ensure that clients are the highest priority. This necessitates going further than the traditional customer service. The best method for accomplishing exceptional customer satisfaction along with business objectives is to construct a customer-focused culture.
Customer Focused Organizations Win In the End
I have worked in big and small corporations throughout my career. I can attest to the fact that customer-focused organizations always win in the end. They are effective in attaining their business goals for the simple reason that they align their customer‘s needs and wants with the overall mission, objectives and vision of the company.
Moreover, clients feel and see when businesses are making an additional effort to understand their pain points and provide solutions. Because they sense these endeavours, customers become advocates for the organization.
As a customer-focused product manager with several years’ experience in the field, traversing being customer-driven is something I do in four functions: (1) get my colleagues engaged, (2) build relationships with front-line teammates, (3) turn metrics stories into determinable action steps, and lastly (4) bring partners and stakeholders into the room with customers.
When it comes to getting my colleagues engaged, I believe that every one of my colleagues affects customers; from customer service, technical support, relationship management, sales, and marketing. They are leading daily connections. My PM superpower (I thrive in finding insights beyond the sight of others) afforded me to recognize long ago that even non-customer-facing teammates can have a powerful impact.
As a standard, when our 3iab (product manager, design lead, and research lead) is doing discovery for a new product or feature, one of the first things I do is to schedule meetings with leads from product marketing, sales, customer service, technical support, and relationship management. My motivation is that each of these team members will help us understand customers’ needs, if market research is already completed, competitive analysis, product playbook and the marketplace.
The product marketing lead will assist us in knowing what the new product or feature story to the market will be and the value proposition. In addition to harnessing research and marketplace information to explore user insights, we explore new use cases. The sales lead is acquainted with the vernacular of customers. Consequently, they can support us in our exploration endeavours by providing a thorough understanding of how the new product or feature stacks up in the marketplace and a strategic perspective of the business.
Because they speak to prospective and existing customers, they have a tremendous amount of information concerning who will buy and who would not buy the new product or engage with the new feature and why.
Meeting with leads from customer service, technical support, and relationship management teams will produce excellent results because they are closer to customers and genuinely comprehend the customer pain points and needs from onboarding to servicing. They can provide additional requirements and introductions to power users when we are ready for in-person interviews and focus groups.
Non-Customer Facing Teams Have a Lot to Say
Pertaining to non-customer-facing colleagues, whether our team is building a new product or feature, I make it a point to schedule meetings with our data scientist, pricing team, and customer billing teams. These teams enable our 3iab to ascertain supplementary requirements that might be needed.
The data scientist lead and I will utilize data to make our determinations and the specific performance indicators in order to gauge the effect of those choices. The collaboration will lead to understanding what metrics we want to track for the new product or feature, such as customer satisfaction, adoption, engagement, cost reduction, growth, etc.
If there is no instrumentation, adding the creation of them to the requirements and producing a dashboard so that all stakeholders in the organization can get access to the metrics. Partnership with the pricing team to find out what our competitors are charging and the go-to-market pricing. Additionally, if the product or feature will be an add-on item, the customer billing team will assist us in establishing if we need to add the ability to enable it in the settings or somewhere else.
Being a customer-centric product manager necessitates constructing relationships with front-line colleagues. My partners are in customer service, technical support, and relationship management teams. When I join a new organization, they are the first individuals I meet with. I take time to shadow them on customer calls to listen and learn more about customer issues; this act helps me put myself in the customers’ shoes.
These connections are extremely important as they are the voice of the customer. They interact with customers every day, and they can help me understand pain points and use cases I had not thought of.
The Metrics That Matter
The relationship with our teammates in product marketing, sales, customer service, technical support, and relationship management is one that I continuously cultivate. Our 3iab takes the time to show them experiences for a new product or feature we plan to build. They see it first so we can garner their feedback. We do this so that we can safeguard that we are indeed solving customer problems. We iterate on the advice we receive from them before we engage in usability studies.
Turning metrics story into determinable action steps. Monitoring metrics is some of the most efficient ways to know our customers and recognize what they need and want from our organization. The information we discover is a treasure, and it gives an unbiased and honest assessment of their general experience and satisfaction. In turn, this info will help us to prioritize problems and pinpoint potential solutions.
Product management is getting more and more data-driven. This is great because data makes it easier for product managers to remain ahead of the competition. Multiple metrics tell the story of our product, and as product managers, we must care about them all.
One of the metrics I look at is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This is because it cuts straight to the core of the question of whether our product addresses an issue for our customers and whether they think it could do the same for their colleagues. If the response is they are not likely to endorse our product, they are essentially communicating that they do not believe our product generates value to justify purchasing it. For product managers, understanding the motivation behind the “why” will guide us in recognizing what amendments we need to make to our product to add additional value.
The other metric I also focus on is the Customer Satisfaction Score Survey (CSAT) because it provides the median satisfaction score of customers influenced by a specific experience. To obtain in-depth information is vital for a well-balanced viewpoint of client engagement that I also incorporate additional product analytics. Additionally, I partner with my team to ensure we prompt a poll in the aftermath of a significant event, such as the initial use of a particular feature, as this will offer a more precise response.
As standard practice, we bring partners and stakeholders into the room with customers, and our 3iab (product manager, design lead, and tech lead) takes every E2E design on the road, we meet and present it to all our partners. We do this to gather their response. This is especially important when another dependency team needs to build a portion of our project.
I have found it is one thing to tell a great story conveying customer challenges, but it is another thing entirely when our partners and stakeholder are in the room with the customer. Whether it’s a customer meeting to understand a day in their life, focus group, or discovery, our 3iab is included along with partners teams such as Risk, Compliance, Legal etc., In addition to stakeholders from marketing and research.
The underlying reasons for encouraging them to join discussions with customers is to hear the customer’s pain point, challenges directly from the customer, and they get a chance to ask questions. Our partners who we need to help construct fragments of our product or feature are very influential and can sway decisions while helping with roadmap alignments. Furthermore, they can communicate our product story, the problem it solves, and its marketplace distinction to their leadership.
This is very impactful for our 3iab (product manager, design lead, and tech lead) because there will be no need for me to communicate customer difficulties, as they were in the room. With design and engineering leads, we can leverage their knowledge and experience whenever it comes to producing models. Engineering leads can bring about the best possible answer to the problem. Additionally, our marketing partner, PMM lead, can determine our product or feature‘s story to the marketplace, value proposition and transform that knowledge into powerful communications for the current and future new customers.
Product managers have a treasure chest when it comes to resources within our organizations; we just have to look for it and engage. Through engagement, we can understand our customers thoroughly. Not just their immediate needs and wants, but we can also be proactive instead of reactive.
By partnering, collaborating, and learning from front-line and non-customer facing colleagues, turning metrics story into determinable action steps, and bringing our colleagues and stakeholders into the room with customers, we will find that we are creating and nurturing a customer-focused product management culture within our organizations which in turn is a win for our customers.