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Five Questions Product Managers Should Ask Their Customers

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When was the last time you spoke to one of your customers? last week? Last month? Last year!?!?

Product management as a profession is about understanding customer problems, needs and wants and then delivering products that satisfy these.

Few could argue that speaking to customers is one of the best ways for product managers to gain or refresh their understanding about what it is that customers want. That said, the realities of day-to-day product management with all the associated meetings, discussions, document writing, planning, reviewing and thinking can mean that talking to customers drops off the priority list.

We’ve written previously about quick, easy and (mostly) free ways to gain feedback from customers. In this post, we list five questions we think would be useful in speaking to customers of any product in any context.

Q 1 : What are the reasons that first led you to buy our product?

Q 2 : What problems does our product solve for you?

Q 3 : What do you like most about our product?

Q 4 : What do you like least about our product?

Q 5 : If you could change one thing about our product what would that be?

Obviously there may be specific questions you should be asking your customers, but these would be a good start if it’s been a while since you’ve last talked with them.

What other questions would you add to this list?

Please add your feedback in the comments below.

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  • Nick Wade says:

    Hey guys – nice, concise article reminding PM’s to get out and actually spend time with customers. As a good PM your desire to do this should be somewhat innate, but often the day-to-day somehow ends up taking priority; we’re all prone to that. This idea of customer interaction is something I think about a lot. And when I think about it, inevitably the context of the feedback I’m seeking matters significantly. Those are useful questions – should you wish your customer to tell you specifically about your (already in market) product. But, and your first line lead-in says it all, as a product manager, a big part of your job is often to understand unmet needs in market, and see if your business can find ways to make products to satisfy them. All 5 of your questions ask about “our product” and instantly constrain the customer to think about things within that perspective and framework. Another great way to gain open feedback is to think about how to ask customers about things that are problems, things they can’t solve, things that cost them money, or things that take too much time – and forget about your product. You’ll often hear great insights about adjacencies and together with designers and architects and all the other relevant resources you might just come up with the next game changing move, as opposed to the table stakes that keep you in the game. Just an initial thought.

    Nick Wade
    Group Product Manager
    Enterprise Vault
    Symantec Corporation

  • Paul Gray says:

    Thanks for your comment Nick and you raise a very good point – to drill down to understand more about the specific problems that the customer is facing without framing this wihtin the product context.

    Customers are usually delighted to be asked for their opinions so potentially question 3 “What problems does our product solve for you?” could be prefaced with a question about the problems in general that a customer faces. As you say, this removes the constraint. If the PM is then interested in finding how this relates to the current product they could follow up by asking what problems the product solves (and doesn’t solve).


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