How frequently do you interact with users?
September 19, 2018
September 19, 2018
Early on in in the product development lifecycle, user interviews are a great way to confirm and validate a concept will result a successful business but as the product is not done, the interviews are high level validations that conceptually the pain point you are describing and the solution you are proposing makes sense and would be of value to end users. Once you have a product and even better, was able to on board your first few beta customers or live paying customers for your product, now is the time to maximize customer feedback about your product as they are bought in on what you offer and can provide you a great amount of feedback on what you need to continue to deliver to make the product even better for them. Early adopters can also help you realize what challenges they faced on boarding, confusing parts of your product and help you iron out your process to increase sales.
So with the obvious value that can come from customer interviews, it leaves the question, how frequently do you interact with users?
User interviews provide an understanding of how your target audience talks about an issue in a more intimate setting. What do they mention as their main problems, needs, wishes and joys regarding a process, service or solution? Also, it can reveal how they express themselves when talking about such factors.
– Mária Ilona Horváth, researcher at UX Company UX Studio Team
There is no great rule of thumb of how often you should be checking in with users except that the more you talk with your customers about their experience the more data you are able to collect about their impression of your product, the challenges they faced and potentially why they may stop using your product. Product managers are responsible to build out a product roadmap that drives the future of the product and who better than your customers to help you pin point the key features you need to include to be successful? Here are the main areas you should always focus on us a product manager and how frequently interacting with users can help improve your product planning.
On boarding: One of the most important parts of building a business around a product is to ensure you have a streamlined and simple on boarding experience for users to quickly setup, adopt and move forward with your product. If a user hits a challenge in the first few minutes of reviewing your product, that may be the only shot you had to keep them interested. So how frequently do you interact with users that are trying to on board? It is 100% okay to ask someone who is trying your product and has not purchased it yet to give you feedback. Schedule calls, cold call or even better setup time in person to meet with the customer who is trying your product. Focus on what they are trying to accomplish and their experience getting setup in your product to accomplish that business need. Did they get stuck? Were they able to use your support documentation? Did they know about the information available to help them? The more you can streamline setup, the more you will convert and grow the business. This should be a very top priority for growing your product and finding features for your product roadmap.
Competitor Analysis: Typically someone looking at your product or using your product will be familiar with the competitor landscape and they may have either tried your competition or also looking at it. They are a gold mine for your competitor analysis to learn why they chose you over the competition. What are your strengths? Even better, what did the competition do better than you? What was their support like? What did they like and not like about the various options compared to your product. This is not a time to bad mouth competition but to be able to see where you may want to press your marketing on your strengths and add features to your product roadmap to improve your weakness.
Churn Reasons: Ultimately customers leave your product. How frequently do you interact with users that churned? As great as it is to hear from those in trial and those actively using your subscription, hearing your frustrated customers is even more important. The reality is that the large majority of your customers will use your product and if they stop you will never know why they stopped. They have their reasons, but your average customer will not tell you why they quit or have opened support tickets with issues they simply hit some friction and decided to move on. With that being said, if you continue to reach out to churn customers and find one willing to speak up, listen! You need to know why people are leaving and it is really hard to get this data as typically someone leaving may be frustrated or even angry with your product and want nothing to do with it. If you can get them to articulate why they are frustrated and angry hear them pain points and work on solutions to improve those areas as it may be a large reason you have churn.
Industry changes: The world is constantly changing and your customers need you to be active in your product management to ensure you keep up with it. This could be new laws that change how they do business, it could be a new business opportunity that was created in their space or a new player in the space that requires them to do business differently. Whatever the driver, always keep in mind your customer needs are always changing and while you solve a pain point, that pain point can shift over time and you need to be constantly reaching out to customers to check in on their business needs and confirm you are still solving the problem they face. Many founders or product managers may have experience in the space they support and assume they know the space enough but the more you are removed from the space to build a product that helps it, the further you are from the day to day needs of the customer base. Avoid banking on your industry knowledge and rely on your customers to ensure you are solving their constantly evolving needs.
Overall Usability: Before your product, customers solved their pain points somehow and they used your product to be more efficient and save time, money and energy. For this to remain true, you need to constantly work on your user experience to ensure your product is streamlined to help customers complete their day to day operations or normal use cases within your product. How frequently do you interact with users to watch them use your product in normal day to day operations? By simply watching them use your product you may see them completing extra tasks, needing to do things inefficiently or using it in a way you did not realize. Focus on your usability to ensure you continue to offer a product that solves pain points and is easy to use and adopt. Better usability increases adoption and decreases churn so should always play a role in your product roadmap planning as a product manager.
Customer feedback management should always be a critical part of a product managers product planning efforts and by interacting with users you can hear the challenges they face and the features they need you to implement to continue to grow within your product. Always be open and proactive in scheduling user interviews as a product manager because your customers world is constantly changing, and you need to build your product roadmap to support it.