Managing Customer Input as a Product Manager

Let’s face the truth. Diverse groups of customers are out there in the real world, with a wide range of requirements. Some of them are more vocalized than others for their needs, while some demand features that don’t follow your product roadmap.

Having a solid approach to managing customer input will help you to stay on top of your game.

What is Customer Input anyway?

Most customers cannot precisely describe what features they want but they’re good at explaining the difficulties they face with various products and services. Understanding this fact brings clarity in how to progress innovation and the ultimate business outcomes.

Valid customer input is an essential part of the product development cycle that helps in aiming the right target and getting the right product. The product goes through constant iterations to become the final product at different stages of development. In the development plan, customer inputs are used to test the result from inception to end to enhance the odds of success.

As a product manager, you can ask the customer anything concerning their problem and assure them that you are on the right path of building the best-suited product to overcome the customer’s needs. The following questions are appropriate:

  • What is the customer personality for the product?
  • What kind of problems should the product resolve?
  • How can you estimate the success of the product?

Customer input concerning the problems will help a product manager to build a better product.

A product manager collects customer inputs in three essential ways:

  • Customer Survey
  • Customer feedback
  • Customer Insights

Now let’s dig deeper into each of these:

Customer Survey

Customer surveys enable product managers to ask consumers questions to take their views on various aspects of the product. They are an inexpensive and scalable way to obtain feedback. Survey data can aid you to change your opinions into decisions and help validate hypotheses you have about customers and the product.

It is similar in business. The more you understand about your customers, the more formidable are your possibilities for achievement.

Grasping what sort of product or service to give to the consumers, what segments to target, and the sales plan to apply is very significant.

There are a variety of ways to get proper feedback from your customers.

Questionnaires

Primarily, questionnaires are a handy tool for survey use and can be done in writing.

Questionnaires appear in electronic or paper form. Nowadays, the use of the internet is increasing, so this kind of survey is prevalent. It is very beneficial for domestic and international companies.

Domestic companies can utilize it to receive feedback regarding their products and services in the domestic market. Therefore, it also enables to know the target audience by examining the solutions of the customer.

International companies can also utilize the questionnaires to receive feedback regarding their products and services in the domestic market, with the extension of foreign markets.

Domestic and International companies do business in many countries and have entrance to their markets that permits them to receive feedback from customers of diverse habits, cultures, and wealth.

Product managers can use it as one of the critical parts when composing crucial decisions, like quality, price, and variety of the products or services.

A product manager establishes the goals for the product and outlines specifications during vision development. A clear product vision acknowledges the following questions:

  • What is the customer personality for the product?
  • What kind of problems will the product resolve?
  • How can you estimate the success of the product?

Interview

An interview is also a type of survey, a different style of receiving feedback from your clients. The standard way of taking the interview is a phone interview made among the customer and the company.

However, there are always considerations whether it is beneficial or not, as most people hang up the phone when they listen. “Good afternoon, I am calling on behalf of the (company name). Do you have a few moments to answer some questions, please?”

The second type of interview is a face-to-face interview. That is a more personal type of communication between the customer and the product manager and is a great way to get input from customers. People talk more about their impressions when they are more relaxed when their privacy is not threatened.

Customer Perception

Market research is a process of collecting information, analyzing the market and its existing or potential customers. They conduct various researches such as comparing existing products, study competition, identifying target customer groups. This process comprises multiple aspects:

  • Building customer personas: Creating a representation of your ideal customer image, i.e., age, gender, common problems, average income, education level, life goals, spending habits, etc.
  • Recognizing customers’ calls: Defining the four principal needs of a customer that involves quality, price, choice, and convenience.
  • Analyzing customer behavior: Understanding your end customers’ psychology and motives.

At the stage of execution and marketing and sales, market research is essential for new product development. With its help, a company can learn customers’ needs and develop a strategy for a strong product.

Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is all about communicating with customers to get their views on a product or service that you offer to them. For truly understanding their needs and behavior, listening to their opinions and feelings is crucial. For you, as a product manager, it is an essential task because you have to embrace your customers and know the agony of their difficulties before delivering a valuable solution.

Customer feedback holds several benefits when collecting during product development. By doing this, you can discover how customers think about a problem and confirm assumptions about user behavior and market trends. Conversing with customers also enables you to find incomplete requirements and identify use cases you should not consider before. The insights you obtain from these reviews help you recognize developments, add workability, or build new solutions to address customer challenges.

So how do you gather performance feedback that guides product innovation? It commences with listening. Several teams engage with customers by putting questions about how they utilize the product and what they would improve about their expertise. Many companies use an online platform to allow their customers to share their recommendations. That provides certainty about what people are demanding and how you can address it.

But putting questions and attending to answers is just the start; you need to dive deeper. Ask the customers to be open about precisely what they need and note their initial remarks. Doing this requires understanding. When you can understand, it is simpler to produce effective solutions.

Customer Feedback is Crucial

Customers can modify every perspective of your company for the more beneficial if you accept their feedback. Consider your most important aims and commence after understanding, easy way for getting customer feedback before developing out to more complicated tactics such as testing, usability, and analytics.

Customer assistance channels are the perfect position to start. Your aid team delivers more advantage when they request every communication as a chance to gather qualitative and quantitative feedback on actual happenings with your company.

Customer Insights

Whether you are a marketer or thinking of becoming an entrepreneur by starting your own business, one of the essential factors of every strong business is marketing.

How can you wish to trade your products and services without it?

“You can’t just place a few “Buy” buttons on your website and expect your visitors to buy.” — Neil Patel.

Correctly! For you, to be a successful product manager, require an advertisement of your products and services and an eye on the market to find out what people need.

All this information can help you build a good product marketing strategy.

Let’s see some of the best ways to gain Customer Insight:

Natural Observance

To know your customer thoroughly, you should observe how they act when they use and buy your products and services. Something so easy can drive to a lot of exciting developments. How swiftly they set their choices? How much analysis do they already do? Do they ask questions? You can use this research and analysis to track online customer behavior.

Conjoint Analysis

The conjoint analysis concept is familiar to all marketers because it has been in use for decades. The basic idea behind conjoint analysis is to survey customers about their choices by questioning them which product they would prefer to buy compared to two or more other options. Only one question like we discussed can give a bit of knowledge you can use, but asking plenty of them in various sequences and the insights can help you see what goes on behind the scenes or can be mind-altering.

All this data gathered by you from your conjoint analysis can be grouped and examined to provide for segmentation of customers. It is handed you with enough information you require to personalize your company’s access to them.

Empathy Interviews

Empathy interviews go much more extensive than doing surveys by putting out a list of pre-prepared questions to discover more about your customers. A qualified empathy interviewer spends time with the interview subject and uses a more relaxed and conversational way to break down the hesitation and uncertainty that helps them open up more about what inspires them. It makes the insights obtained from the process more relevant due to the difficulty of the task. With some right questions and demeanor, interviewers get customers to open up quickly, giving some interesting answers that can notify your business choices.

Do Experiment

You should never be assured whether customers should like your product or not till you deliver it to the market. While we have already stated, you can reduce the uncertainty of failure by performing in-depth analysis about the market and following the trends.

But it would be best if you were not afraid of failing to launch products every time you have insecurities. So, the most reliable method to know what your customer wants by trial and fault methods.

For you, not to neglect, you should make various types of similar product, or to maintain it proficiently, you should separate the uncertainty. If customers dislike any product, then they will choose another product.

Be Ubiquitous!

Finally, for you to indeed be able to communicate with your customers, you must have a complete understanding of all available communication channels, such as TV commercials, E-Mails, billboards, and social media. Through this, you can increase the no. of customers as well as sales.

Traditionally, people favor some ways of communication, like TV commercials, phone contact, and direct interaction with the seller, while young generations live in the age of the internet; thus, they prefer social media and emails.

Social media is probably one of the easiest ways to start a conversation. Here are some of the best channels to gather product feedback.

  • Linkedin
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Whatsapp
  • Snapchat

A great way to testify your responsibility to customers is by including customer feedback, survey, and insight in product development. The degree to which the input is helpful is entirely up to you.

Hope we could add a little value to your knowledge through this blog.

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Zeda.io aims to make Product Management and Development Simpler & Smarter. We write about Product Management, Product Design, Product Development, and startups.

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