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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Product Managers, value first hand experience

How well does a product manager perform on his job depends upon how much he / she understands their customer and their product users. This understanding is important for building confidence which in turn directly influences performance of a product manager, and hence it is important that product managers get this understanding first hand. This requires product managers to meet customers and prospects on regular basis. Visit production site, conditions under  which users use the product and get the first hand experience of pain and pleasure points.

Plan your visit

  1. Have a single agenda meeting. Do not club meeting  your courtesy visit with any other agenda. Do not pitch in new business ideas, repeat orders etc
  2. Meet the buyer (person taking purchase decision) to understand his/ her satisfaction level. Is the buyer happy about purchase or does he believe that he should have opted for some alternate product.
  3. Spend good time with product user. Observer the conditions under which user is using your product.  Do they take too many phone calls? what other tasks (physical and on computer) do they perform while using your product? etc
  4. Do not ask too many question but instead prefer to play the role of an observer. Observe usage pattern, behavior etc as user works on the product.
  5. Given an opportunity, limited your queries to 'What you like and What you don't like?".

Remember, user often may not be able to articulate his or her preferences, pain points or liking clearly or even if they can they may not know the exact root cause of their liking and disliking. It is important to observe users as accurately as possible to know "Whys?" along with "whats?".

It’s imperative for product manager to understand the customer as they understand customer's requirements. Speak with customers and product users on regular intervals to listen and to understand pain points, newer needs, evolving business etc. A requirement drafted post this effort is likely to be far more accurate and is sure to boost product manager's confidence levels. So meet your customers frequently and get first hand understanding of your customer.


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