A deep understanding of your customers' needs and thinking can make all the difference between a winning product roadmap and an ineffective one. Pick up some tips about how to get customer insights quickly and efficiently.
- People sometimes ask me how to earn respect as a product manager. The answer is simple. The more you know about your customer and your market, the more you can speak with authority about the impact of specific product development options. Customer knowledge is the primary currency of a product manager. So how do you learn more about your customers? By talking to them of course. If you haven't done it before, now would be a great time to invest in learning about your customers.
This will help you build a product roadmap that's likely to have the intended impact and achieve your business goals. Here's the question you need to answer. What decisions do your customers need to make in choosing your product? What problem are they trying to solve? What other options are available to them today? Sometimes the choice is between your product and a competitors. And sometimes it's between your product and doing nothing or addressing their need in some other way. The best way to figure this out of course is to go right to the horse's mouth and ask your customers directly.
Here are a few common ways you can do this. If you're in a large company, you may already have a research group that has the answers to the questions you're asking. If not, you may be able to initiate a new research effort with them. It's more likely you'll need to ask your customers yourself. There's several ways you can do this. You could of course design a survey and send it out to a small sample of your target customers using any number of widely available survey software tools. You could also just participate in sales or customer service meetings either as an active or a passive participant.
I found however that direct qualitative customer research yields more insight more quickly than almost anything else you can do. Here's how it works. Reach out to a handful of your customers directly with a personal phone call or email. Introduce yourself as the product manager and ask them for a few minutes of their time to learn about their experience using your product. You'd be surprised how many people respond positively to a request like this. Then in your conversation, after you introduce yourself, ask them to share their screen and watch them actually using your product, listening to their observations along the way.
You should also ask them a few questions. Why they decided to try your product, what their other options were, and whether or not they plan to continue with your product and why. You can also ask them what they wish the product did differently. How many customers should you talk to? Well, you know you've talked to enough of them when you start to be able to predict how they're going to answer your questions. Amazingly, in practice, for many products, it seems like five customer conversations is often enough. After even the first few conversations, you're sure to bring home lots of insights about what they need, how they make decisions, and what the product needs to do differently in order to achieve your business goals.
When you bring these insights back to the rest of your team, you'll be able to speak with authority and you're sure to earn their respect.
This course shows how to build a product roadmap for your business—and gain critical stakeholder buy-in. See examples of what roadmaps might look like, and spend time learning the tools and techniques necessary to map the projects for your specific organization. Instructors Teg Grenager and Eldad Persky help you create strong, dynamic roadmaps that will ensure your team is working on the right projects at the right time.
- What is a product roadmap?
- Roadmaps in agile organizations
- Selecting stakeholders
- Researching customers
- Identifying milestones
- Estimating effort
- Maintaining the roadmap