How Product Managers Can Better Understand Their Customers
On December 5, 2018, we hosted a webinar on how product managers can better understand their customers. Product leaders constantly strive to improve their products to drive greater engagement, grow revenue, and delight customers. To achieve that goal, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is, “Do I understand what my customers want?” Once you’re dialed into the voice of your customer, engagement and revenue will follow.
In order to move the needle, you need to listen—and we mean really listen—to customer feedback. During the webinar, Michael Fountain, Director of Product at Apptentive, and Sina Yeganeh, Senior Product Manager at Apptentive, shared why it is important to listen deeply to your customers, and how you can use customer feedback to build a truly stellar product.
In case you missed it, you can view the recording below.
Additionally, here are some highlights from the presentation.
Every customer voice matters
At Apptentive, we live by this statement. At the end of the day, you build a product so customers will use it. It is absolutely crucial to hear their voice and incorporate it into your product and customer experience.
According to recent research, the top two reasons why customers leave companies are 1) they don’t believe companies care about them, and 2) they are dissatisfied with the service. In today’s highly competitive world, customers have myriad choices. If they don’t feel a personal connection with you, they will take their business elsewhere.
Additionally, it’s important to hear from a large base of your customers in order to make informed feedback decisions. Our data shows that most companies only hear from less than 1% of their customers, which we call the “vocal minority.” That means about 99% of their customers are in the “silent majority.” It is this group that you need to tap into and proactively ask for feedback to get a stronger sense of what your customer base wants and needs.
Feedback is about people, not users
Above all, remember that feedback is about people, not users. Be thoughtful and humanize the experience when asking for feedback. People don’t want to feel like they’re talking to a bot, and you want to build deep, meaningful relationships with your customers, which can’t be done if it’s not genuine and thoughtful.
There are many different ways to collect feedback. Illustrated below are some of the methodologies you can follow based on the Value Proposition Design Book by the Strategyzer Group.
At Apptentive, we use a combination of different techniques, like being an anthropologist and using FullStory to analyze customer engagement, or running A/B tests, or “eating our own dog food” by following the recommendations we give our customers. A common technique we use to gather direct customer feedback is through customer interviews. As with all things feedback, you must listen more than you speak during customer interviews. A free-flowing conversation without leading questions or prompts is what will lead you to your customer’s real pain points. You might walk into an interview with some presumptions, but be mindful to leave them at the door and listen with an open mind.
Make it easy for customers to share feedback
Feedback starts with one simple question: “Do you love our company? Apptentive offers several ways to thoughtfully and mindfully engage customers based on their response to that initial question. Depending on their yes or no answer, customers can be meaningfully directed to related products, surveys, a ratings prompt, open-ended feedback, etc., to share their sentiments through the most effective medium.
Use Minimum Viable Experiments often to understand what customers want
Run Minimum Viable Experiments (MVEs) before you build Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). MVEs are effective, efficient, and require none to minimal engineering work. Depending on your needs, we recommend using tools like InVision and Sketch so product managers can mock up prototypes themselves and work with customers to get immediate feedback. This also makes the subsequent steps of building the MVP quicker and naturally feedback-driven.
Of course, product managers have to deal with multiple priorities and needs on a daily basis, so it’s important to prioritize customer feedback to inform roadmap. We like to use voting as a method to get a deeper understanding of customer priorities—to determine what’s really important among a list of desired features. You can also use a feature priority matrix template like this one by the 280 Group. It helps to rank features against business criteria to make trade-off decisions, build consensus, group items together, and strike the balance between product priorities and customer feedback.
Let customers know their feedback was heard.
You don’t want to miss this crucial step in the feedback mechanism. Our data shows that 97% of customers are more likely to become loyal if they know their feedback has been implemented. Those are great odds!
Think about the last time that an app or service you gave feedback to reached out to let you know that they heard you. Didn’t it feel warm and fuzzy? Didn’t it move you to become more fiercely loyal to the company or brand? That’s the power of an effective feedback loop. It helps tremendously with retention which is a top goal for any business.
If you have questions for our presenters Michael Fountain and Sina Yeganeh, please share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you want to learn more about questions product managers should ask themselves to build robust products, download our guide 5 Hard Questions for Mobile Product Managers.