Customer Focused Product Management: A Winning Business Strategy

Editor’s note: the following was written by a guest blogger. If you have product management/tech industry experience, and would like to contribute to the blog, please contact ellen@productschool.com

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 in constructing trusted connections with their customers. 

Any organization’s success story is dependent on their customers. Bereft of them, they would be without sales or revenue. That means that in order to achieve success, it is imperative to ensure that clients are the highest priority. And that necessitates going further than the traditional the 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 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 endeavors, customers become advocates for the organization. 

As a customer-focused product manager with several years’ experience in product management, traversing being customer driven is something I do in four functions. Get my colleagues engaged, build relationships with front-line teammates, turn metrics story into determinable action steps, and bring partners and stakeholders into the room with customers. 

When it comes getting my colleagues engaged, it is my believe that every one of my colleagues has an effect on customers, from customer service, technical support, relationship management, sales, and marketing. They are leading daily connections.  My PM superpower (I thrive in finding opportunities 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. The motivation, each of these team members will help us understand customer needs, if there is market research already completed, competitive analysis, product playbook and the marketplace. 

Product marketing lead will assist us to know what the new product or feature’s story to the market will be and the value proposition. In addition to harnessing research and marketplace information to explore user insights, explore new use cases.  The sales lead is acquainted with the vernacular of customers. Consequently, they can support us in our exploration endeavors by providing a thorough understanding of how the new product or feature stacks up in the marketplace and a strategic perspective of the business. 

And 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 these individuals are closer to customers, and they genuinely comprehend the customer pain points and needs from onboarding to servicing. They are able to 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 colleagues that are non-customer facing, whether our team is building a new product or feature I make it a point to also 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.

woman in yellow shirt sitting on chair

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, and etc. If there is no instrumentation, adding 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 pricing team to find out what our competitors are charging and what the go to market pricing will be. And 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.  

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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 so I can listen and learn more about customer issues, this act helps me to 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 in understanding 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 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, some of the most efficient ways to know our customers, recognize what they need and want from our organization is by monitoring metrics, the information we discover is a treasure, it gives unbiased and honest assessment of their general experience and satisfaction. These info in turn will help us to prioritize problems and pinpoint potential solutions. Product management is getting more and more data driven. Data makes it easier for product managers to remain ahead of the competition. There are multiple metrics that tells the story of our product and as product managers we must care about them all. 

One of the metrics I look at is Net promoter score (NPS), this is because it cuts straight to the core of the question as to whether our product addresses an issue for our customers, and do they think it could do the same for their colleagues, if the response is they are not likely to endorse our product, then what they are essentially communicating is 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 Customer Satisfaction Score Survey (CSAT) because it provides the median satisfaction score of customers influenced by a specific experience. To obtain in-depth information vital for a well-balanced viewpoint of client engagement I also incorporate additional product analytics. Additionally, I partner with my team to ensure we are prompting a poll in the aftermath of a significant event such as initial use of a particular feature as this will offer a more precise response.

Bring partners and stakeholders into the room with customers, as standard practice our 3iab (product manager, design lead, and tech lead) takes every E2E design on the road, we meet and present 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. It is another thing entirely when our partners and stakeholders are in the room with the customer. Whether it is 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 and etc. In addition to stakeholders from marketing and research. 

The underlying reasons for encouraging them to join discussions with customers is so that they can hear the customer pain point, challenges directly from the customer and they get a chance to ask questions. For our partners who we need to help construct fragments of our product or feature, this is very influential and can sway decisions and help with roadmap alignments. Furthermore, they can communicate our product story, the problem it solves, and its marketplace distinction to their leadership.

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For our 3iab (product manager, design lead, and tech lead), this is very impactful 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 lead can bring about the best possible answer to the problem. Our marketing partner, PMM lead can determine our product or feature’s story to the marketplace, value proposition and transforming 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 really understand our customers thoroughly. And 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.

Meet the Author

Ronke Majekodunmi

Ronke Majekodunmi is a Senior Product Manager with a mission to ensure immense enterprise satisfaction accessing payment-related information. At PayPal, she leads a web-based payments portal, develops the strategy of roadmaps, brings solutions to life by executing in an agile environment, and measures product solutions’ impact on key performance indicators.

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