There is so much buzz around user-centred design, design thinking and Lean methods of creating and delivering products and services to the market. One thing that these methods all have in common is that they put they explore the unmet needs of a customer by going out and meeting them face to face. It seems obvious that Product Managers would be constantly in contact with their customers to help understand them and to continue to discover new opportunities, but many Product Managers and organisations struggle with talking to their customers.
When we have asked why it is difficult we hear a number of blockers including everything from: “I’m not allowed to talk to the customer” to “Couldn’t I damage my company’s image by talking to the customer?” or “I don’t know what to ask my customer.”
In reality these are just excuses that cover an uncertainty of just how to get started with a customer meeting and what to say when the interview starts.
With a little bit of planning and a few simple steps it isn’t as hard as it first seems.
4 Steps for conducting a Customer Interview
Here is an overview of the four steps for customer interviews, that will help you start your journey towards knowing your customer.
Step One: Research Objective
The first step is to define the research objective. A customer interview is not a chit-chat, it needs a specific objective, which could be:
- to prove or disprove a hypothesis
- to describe a customer journey
- to be an input for persona creation
- to test a Product, prototype or MVP
Step Two: Identify and Recruit Interview Subjects
Your research objective will be an essential input as you decide who you’ll interview. Will you speak to customers, or non-customers, or a combination of both? Your interviews may focus on a particular market segment, or a group who demonstrate a particular behaviour, or perhaps match a demographic. Many people ask how many should be interviewed? The common benchmarks are somewhere between 5-20 and when you stop learning new things from the interviews.
Step Three: Plan Interview Questions
With these foundations, you can move on to devising the interview structure and questions. It’s worth being aware that asking customers what they want, or what they will do in the future, can produce unreliable results. Asking what they have done in the past can produce much more honest data.
Step Four: Extract Insights
Back in the office, you’ll need some method to extract the insights. This doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as easy as grouping like answers together on post-it notes, or compiling themes in an excel spreadsheet. Take time to recognise patterns relevant to your research objective. If you were testing a hypothesis, are you in a position to say it was proven? Or if you were trying to build a customer journey, can you deeply describe all the steps your customer takes?
During the whole process, it’s important to be aware of our personal biases. A customer interview should be approached with an open mind. As much as we want to see our Products succeed, it’s important to check those hopes at the door and be ready to receive any feedback the customer may provide.
Finally, conducting a customer interview is a skill, which requires practice. Having a colleague watch you while you interview may help identify possible areas for improvements. It’s very easy to slip into pitching your Product as the solution during an interview, or leading your customer to a particular answer.
Sitback and Brainmates have joined forces to present a new course: Customer Interviewing Masterclass. It’s designed for both User Experience and Product Professionals, who want to deep-dive into every step of the customer interview process.
The class is integrated with the Brainmates Framework and will provide tools, techniques and tricks valuable through the Innovation, Design and Implementation phases.
Prospa is a growing FinTech looking for a Lead Product Manager to help take the business to the next level.
They’ve already funded more than $150,000,000 in small business loans, with a customer satisfaction rate of 95%, and won a number of awards, including the crown of Australia’s fastest growing technology company at the annual Australian Deloitte Technology Fast 50.
It’s an exciting opportunity to join a new product team with the scope to make an impact and be an integral part of the growth story.
The team has just moved to a new office space, where a culture of innovation and collaboration remain central to everyday life.
Check out the attached job description. If you think being the Prospa Lead Product Manager sounds like the next step for you, please apply with your resume by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post ‘3 Ways To Structure Your Roadmap’ is a guest post from the folks at ProductPlan.
There is little consensus on the correct way to structure product roadmaps. Product managers hold wildly different views, for example, on what areas roadmaps should focus on, what level of granularity they should go into, and what timeframes they should cover.
And why are these questions so important to you as a product manager? Because ultimately your goal in developing a product roadmap is to create a document that can help you better communicate your strategy to the various constituencies whose help you’ll need to bring your product successfully to market.
Always Put Strategy First
Before I delve into a discussion of three options for structuring your roadmap, I want to make a suggestion that will hold true for your roadmap no matter what type of format you use or level of detail you include: You should always start with strategy. Only after you’ve fully fleshed out your high-level strategy should you begin moving onto the details of execution. Continue reading...
Roadmaps are interesting artifacts, because they are used for so many things. Like the words “love” or “remarkable”, roadmap means different things to different people in different contexts. I love you. I also love Tim Tams.
There are multiple clear valuable activities that happen with, or even because of, a roadmap. Driving focus for an organization, getting clarity around which problems you will (and won’t!) solve, and for whom you will solve those problems. For this article, let’s unpack one other use – managing expectations around the timing of what your product is and will become.
A roadmap is not a schedule or a release plan
Have you ever run into someone who treats product and project managers as interchangeable people? Those folks don’t appreciate the difference, and it’s always a great opportunity to spread some education. One simple – perhaps simplistic – way to demonstrate the difference is that a product manager figures out what to do and when (roughly), where a project manager makes sure the team can meet those delivery expectations. This isn’t so much a Venn diagram as a murky and ill-defined border of responsibility. When a product manager shares her roadmap, which identifies areas of investment, laid out against the calendar, it looks like “a release plan.” Continue reading...
Menulog is looking for a Senior Product Manager to help them drive growth of their consumer and partner products. This is a high profile and exciting role with the opportunity to make a significant impact and influence the takeaway consumption habits of millions of consumers.
The Senior Product Manager identifies innovative opportunities and defines solutions to meet specific, KPI driven business goals, then measures and reports on the effectiveness of those solutions. She or he works with the Technology Manager to define the strategic direction of the product development team, focused on business value, as well as owning the short-term delivery roadmap.
As Senior Product Manager at Menulog you are intelligent, passionate and innovative who want to grow your career in a frank, open and honest team working environment. Their ideal candidate is an original thinker with a strong product vision, and a relentless focus on delivery of faultless e-commerce services.
The Key Product Manager Role Capabilities
- Graduate qualification.
- 7+ years relevant work experience, including roles as a Product Manage
- Excellent and proactive communication and presentation skills to stakeholders at all levels of seniority, their team colleagues and customers.
- Experience analysing the performance of existing products, managing KPIs, and identifying opportunities based on cost-benefit analysis at both tactical & strategic levels.
- Has a deep knowledge of the business model and where we sit in the competitive landscape,understands how a successful product contributes to our success. Experience of competitive reviews at strategic level to identify threats and opportunities in a highly competitive market.
- Identifies opportunities, find people impacted to gather requirements, self-starter in all new initiatives – asking for forgiveness not permission where appropriate.
- Has worked on multiple initiatives simultaneously and seen them through to completion, or handover. Ability to take ownership, creatively solve problems, and pro-actively secure the objectives of the business.
- Experienced in working at a strategic and tactical level to create a clear vision, passionately sharing that with the team and company to steer the product.
Sound like you? There’s more detail in the JD attached. Menulogrecruiting-SeniorProductManager (002)
Please note: This job was posted on 22 April 2016