Jorg Saretzki has worked for over 5 years in product management on a number of large scale and complex software and online solutions. With a software development background he moved into product management knowing that comprehending technological capabilities, understanding users’ needs and having a product vision are all vital to a product’s success. A technologist at heart Jorg has been working with professionals both in Australia and internationally on products that have delivered practical solutions to diverse industries.
Jorg’s Twitter handle is @macmyday
Throughout the product development process user interaction is necessary to ensure we create products that users need. This results in a number of questions Product Managers have to ask themselves: How do you get to users? What are the stages at which you interact with users? What methodologies do you apply? How and at what stage do you feedback to users? How frequent do you contact your users?
The aim of the session was to hear everyone’s ideas as well as providing an insight into my own experiences.
We have to distinguish between customers and users. While in many instances your customers are also your users, this is not always the case. Users consume your products, while customers pay for them. Customers might also be the decision makers when it comes to purchasing the product. A good example is a customer buying cat food. The user is the cat and is likely to have different requirements than the customer.
Product Managers need to interact with users at various stages throughout product development. Depending on your organisation’s size, you might have a database of users, or you can leverage customer service, marketing, sales etc.
User interaction starts with observing and getting to know your users’ workflows even before you know your product. Map out the workflows if necessary, because it will give you a good idea of where workflows are interrupted, complicated or inefficient. Studying these points will not only give you a greater insight into a users working, but ultimately point to product ideas – sometimes in the simple form of enhancements to existing products. Involve the users from the point of ideation and select users based on personas.
From there on, follow up with users even if you have only concepts to show. Make use of the various types of prototyping available and use whatever seems appropriate for your products and users. Prototyping can take the form of rapid prototyping of which there are a number of good existing tools out there, or actual working products. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, which one is better. Consider cost over benefit.
With prototypes and their presentation to customers comes testing, and the testing mantra should be test early, test often and fail fast (if you have to fail that is). As soon as you have a workable product, use analytics and the insights you get from it. This would be equally important to observing your users use the product.
Other valuable insights come from surveys. While users typically reject surveys, making them easy to digest allows for better feedback. Limiting the time needed to complete a survey, led to the introduction of a Net Promoter Score (NPS), which asks only two questions: 1) How likely on a scale from 1 to 10 are you to recommend the product to a friend or colleague? 2) What was your most important reason for giving this mark?
Use other feedback systems also, such as social networks. If users have complaints about your product, make sure to follow up on the critique, since they have already given you their time and feedback.