Setting the scene: the VP of Product’s challenge
VP of Product, Chief Product Owner, Product Owner or Product Manager: regardless of your job title, you’re likely facing a barrage of similar challenges when it comes to building an impactful, influential product—with features, functionality and iterations that your customers LOVE. What can seem a straightforward problem on the surface quickly turns into trying to deal with the myriad of feature requests your loyal users throw at you. It can sometimes feel like there’s never enough bandwidth at any given time.
How can you figure out which updates and features are really the most important? What is truly going to bring your company to the next level? How can you communicate your product roadmap in a way that incites enthusiasm within your user base, whilst making sure your decision making is based on data and insights, not subjective opinion?
Are you making the right decisions when it comes to prioritizing your team’s backlog? Is your roadmap really on track for the future vision of the company and product? And amongst all of this: Are you making enough room for the product improvements being requested by existing customers?
But your biggest, most urgent challenge? Prioritizing the right next step.
You can’t listen to all your customers at once, but it’s necessary to stay close to them to prioritize. In this whitepaper we’re going to explore how creating a more reciprocal, customer-centric relationship with your users and establishing a cadence between your product team and your customer community—via an online community platform—can really push your releases from “that’s cool” to “WOW! Nailed it.”
How product and users tie together
No doubt you’re already using user feedback as a key data point in product development. But how are you capturing this information? Are you relying on anecdotal evidence gathered via ‘chinese whispers’ from your CSMs on a small scale? Or are you gathering user feedback on a larger scale using surveys or questionnaires that offer little-to-no qualitative insights—meaning you can’t actually rationalize the numbers?
Product usage tracking tools are hot—you’re probably already using an analytics stack with tools like Mixpanel, Google Analytics, Amplitude or Kissmetrics to profile users and track their digital footprints. The hard data these tools provide is highly valuable and gives you the insights you need to answer tough questions, even when you don’t know what to look for.
But facts alone never tell the whole story. They show what’s currently happening, but don’t necessarily point to the needs of the future. Other methods can help you get there—customer surveys, focus groups and innovation labs. But these can be tough to set up and complex to draw conclusions from.
What you need is a structured way to get these insights—both qualitative and quantitative.
The answer lies in harnessing the power of your user community, effectively
The beauty of using a customer community is that it offers multi-way communication. Not only can you have a dialog with your customer—you encourage dialogs between those customers too.
Utilizing an online user community allows product managers to communicate effectively with and amongst your users to collect valuable qualitative feedback on matters such as how new features and updates are being received and key use cases that customers are facing.
Pair this with quantitative feedback like user questions in the community and feature request volumes and suddenly you see the ‘whole story’ as well as crunching the data that helps you rationalize the decisions you’re making.
While your user community has a broader lifecycle incorporating pre-sales, onboarding, training and Customer Success to afford your users maximum value from your product, let’s explore how to put this to work for a product team.
The product-user feedback loop
As you can see, there’s a clear methodology when it comes to incorporating your user community into your product workflow. And it goes a little something like this…
The foundational element of the product-community feedback loop is communication. Communication is, of course, the lifeblood of your user community—and in the sections that follow in this whitepaper we are going to focus specifically on how communication between users can help your product team and wider organization, plus how an online user community can help you communicate news and updates more effectively with your end-user base.