Finding Customer Pain Points with Amazon Product Lead

This week, Product School hosted Satadal Bhattacharjee, Amazon Product Lead, for a special #AskMeAnything session. Satadal talks about how to identify customer pain points, painkiller vs vitamin solutions, and gives some tips on working on B2B products.

Meet Satadal

Satadal Bhattacharjee, Amazon Product Lead

Satadal Bhattacharjee is an experienced Product Management professional with over 25 years of experience leading business strategy and development.

Currently, he is a Product Lead for the Health AI team at Amazon Web Services (AWS). With the help of his team he launched Amazon HealthLake, a HIPAA-eligible AI managed service. During his time at AWS he has also held the titles EC2 PM and Amazon AI Product Management Leader.

What goes into product strategy?

That’s a broad question but essentially when you think about product strategy you need to address 3 key things:

  1. What market segment are you addressing with your product?
  2. What is the opportunity size (TAM/SAM)?
  3. How will you enter the market segment and which persona/pain points will you address first?

Along with this, you also need to look at competitive landscape and figure out your durable advantage over your competition – what you can offer that others cannot. Again this is generic since we are not focusing on specific products yet. 

What is the genesis of a product idea in a B2B setup such as AWS?

Product ideas in B2B setup usually start in 2 ways:

  1. Customers telling you about their pain points
  2. You are inventing and simplifying on behalf of customers by teasing out need vs want. Often customers ask for something but really need something else. For instance no one asked for Lambda but had a need to use a slice of computer that automatically completed tasks they wanted to accomplish – hence Lambda was born.
teddy bear with bandages and band aids on it

What is the difference between Product Design and UX/UI Design?

Product Design usually means mapping customer user journeys (CX) into a wireframe. At this stage your focus is more to map the end-to-end journey of the customer to ensure you are addressing the right pain points.

Product design may not be GUI but can be API or CLI or even voice (think Alexa). UX/UI design is when you are now refining that high-level flow to more concrete user interface with refined designs that translates into the face of the product that customers interact with.

What are some qualities of successful Product Managers at Amazon?

  1. Customer obsession – work backward from your customer and truly represent the voice of the customer within the team
  2. Attention to detail – yes the details matter
  3. Excellent business writing skills – ability to articulate thoughts in a structured manner with quantified backings on each claim
  4. Power to influence others to align XFN teams who are not reporting to you.

How easy it is to transition from Product Manager to Technical Product Manager at Amazon?

PMT needs technical depth. So work on addressing tech depth in the area that you are trying to get in. In addition, if you are thinking of managing an external service (PMT-ES) then pricing and GTM strategy are required as well.

Check out: What is Technical Product Management Anyway?

Do companies hire customers to perform A/B testing? Ideally who should be performing A/B testing?

At AWS major service or feature launches involve a preview period with customers where you seek early feedback. As PM you can decide to roll out the service in specific regions for testing if you want. Usually preview provides enough feedback for GA rollout in all regions.

I’ve had experiences where customers in our B2B telling us what they wanted but later they didn’t use our product when we released those features. How do you differentiate the real needs of customers?

That’s a PM’s job. You must understand your customer’s journey and pain points.

If you are not truly convinced that there are real pain points you should not start building product. If one or a set of potential customers do not use your product you might want to dig deeper to understand the root cause – did the customer need shift, are there alternatives, is your product not satisfying their req etc. You want to iterate quickly and address gaps identified.

What are some of the guidelines you follow in arriving at the North Star for a product?

Tease out must have pain points – painkillers vs vitamins. North star for a product must add value to customers by addressing their key pain points and be meaningful to the business (in terms of revenue/adoption).

person with a tattooed arm dangling a wooden start on a brown string. The person is out of the photo except for their arm and hand

What should PMs know when working with enterprise clients? How do you approach situations when building a feature your client wants goes against your product vision?

Enterprise clients usually have specific requirements or vague when they start off building a new product and need help.

Like with any other customer, understanding enterprise customer end-to-end journey and helping them address their key pain points is a good way to earn trust. Ensuring that you understand their timeline and deliver products with high quality will go a long way which is obvious.

Finally, if you as PM have a product vision that does not align with your customers, it may be because you decided to focus on a subset of a customer segment or you didn’t incorporate all customer feedback while forming the vision. My suggestion will be not to be married to your vision but be open to be vocally self-critical and dig deeper to understand the reasons and then come up with a response that either shows a path to addressing the customer need in your roadmap or have an alternative way. If nothing works then take time to explain to the customer why you will not be able to address their need and provide partner solutions that might work for them.

Enjoyed the article? You may like this too: