Roundtable: How to use Customer Feedback in Product Management

We produced 3 Key Learnings from our recent virtual discussion on our Experts roundtable: How to use customer feedback in product management. 

Tom Laughlin (Director of Product at Jetson, former Product Manager at Peloton), Demian Borba (Principal Product Manager Intuit, previously at Adobe and Paypal), and our CPO Alexandre Spengler had a 60 min conversation about challenges faced by product professionals when it comes to listening to the voice of customers and bringing it to product management processes.

3 Actionable Takeaways

 Check out what our experts shared with us:

1. What are the main differences between physical and digital product management?

The challenges faced by product managers are not always the same; the type of industry and product will directly impact their way of work. According to Tom Laughlin, who works with mobility products, “a physical product requirement absolutely you get off of your desk chair! Go out into the field, and get users on your product or competitors’ products. You need to figure out how to create products that people will try and feel comfortable with them physically”.

A PM focusing on physical product development must observe users in public spaces using the product if it’s a public-facing product. It’s the best way to identify customers’ needs and product improvement opportunities. At the same time, the digital world broke down barriers and brought companies and consumers closer. You can establish online conversations with your customers, send surveys, and listen to spontaneously given feedback through forums, reviews, or comments on social networks. When combining physical interactions and online customer data for deeper analyses, companies can understand customer behavior at scale and get the best of both worlds.

Digital PMs can discover a lot from their desks and track behaviors, monitoring customers and competitors virtually. Demian Borba, one expert in digital products, agreed with Tom: “Hardware products requirements must be much more precise and have sure everything is working before goes to production. You can discover things not connected to the production process in the software industry, which is much easier”.

2. How to become a customer-centric company

A customer-centric company identifies its customers’ needs, challenges, and pain points and then builds its solution to address these needs and sells to these consumers. Mature companies combine both a customer-centric and a  product-centric perspective, which allows them to focus on product excellence using customer feedback to get there.

For the Intuit Product Manager, prioritizing customer feedback makes your job as a PM much easier. When someone questions you about why our company is doing this? “Because the customers want, and I have a lot of data to prove it!” said Demian to one of his colleagues. So, customer feedback makes a more straightforward answer; who wanna contest them? It’s not about a PM’s personal opinion anymore; it’s delivering what the customer needs. 

Demian reminds us that no matter what is your product development stage, customer-centricity is key “When it comes down to before product-market fit is found, for instance, customer feedback is essential; the last thing you want is to build something people don’t want”. 

Tom made an interesting point about considering your internal audience as a first step to becoming a customer-centric company. First, “you must be a user of the product yourself; you must immerse yourself in it!” – said Tom.

For the Director of Product at Jetson, a customer-centric company starts with everybody knowing what your company is doing, including the internal public and then the customers. The next step gets users involved in the process of product creation and enhancement. How? Understanding the user as much as you can. Knowing why they are using your product and getting what are their delights and pain points is the kind of foundation you want. You want to create a library of knowledge.

In other words, your organization must not only listen to the customer to understand their needs and expectations: There’s also the need of to combine all this information into one place to gain a constantly updated, 360-degree view of customer experience with your product and transform it into valuable insights to guide product development and management.

3. How to capture and incorporate customer feedback in the product process

Capturing and incorporating customer feedback differs from one company to another and can change a lot inside the same company, like in Intuit now, remember Demian. “Before, we had almost one year to work in a launch process; for example, now we are working on two months of cycle management. Things are changing very fast nowadays!” You can access them from different sources and analyze them by yourself or have the support of a tool that will make your work much more manageable. 

Usually, product professionals spend much time manually reading, organizing, and categorizing customer comments across multiple sources. Once you can automate that process, it becomes easier to identify critical issues and strengths to support product prioritization and develop better strategies. 

Demian points out that his product management team can change direction based on customer feedback if needed. So, they have the chance to be much more reactive to customer feedback. 

“Serving to the customer is becoming almost a survival mode for companies today, doesn’t matter if it’s a huge, full of features software, you really need to serve your customers,” said Demian.

For Tom, the biggest challenge is to access customer feedback: “We have a small user base as a young company.” But the Jetson Product Director believes customer feedback is relevant for sustaining product management and guiding the product roadmap – and they are using both interviews and eCommerce reviews to get an understanding of what consumers want.

If you missed the webinar or want to go deep into the discussion, we highly encourage you to watch the recording here. And don’t forget to let us know what you most like! 

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