Customer Success as a Prologue for Product Management

customer-success

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post. Interested in collaborating? Email Gabriela Araujo at gaby(at)productschool.com


“Our reviews are dropping!” 😱

It has been an amazing few months for you and your team. Your app made it to the top 10 of the App’s store rating for your category. But it’s been 3 days since you recorded a new sign up on your platform and there’s been a recent surge in complaints from your users leading to bad reviews. The Product team immediately begins to roll out a roadmap for a new feature that would ‘spark the interest’ of users.

This is what happens when attention shifts from user-centered focus as part of a product’s core to a more feature-driven one. It is very easy to get carried away after achieving product-market fit and receiving a boost in sign-ups coupled with increased growth, most companies risk unconsciously shifting their focus from their core value(s) to what I refer to as the ‘Feature Bubble’ where the success of a product bases off the product’s data, figures and developing new features rather than analyses and insights.

Because it is based strictly on figures and a supposed need for feature addition, this gradually takes away the human-centered approach that good product management requires.

But how do you get Data-informed insights?

It’s Time to Step in Customer Success!

The Customer Success team work directly with product users meaning they are able to provide feedback about gaps in functionality, issues with usability and user-experience obstacles. It has long been an argument if the Product and Customer Success units of a company are expected to function as one unit or not. This is quite logical as product management is an area that relies on constant feedback supported with data, as opposed to having an autonomous product management team which could lead to disastrous consequences.

However, it is quite necessary that Customer Success and Product Management teams communicate effectively, especially when it surrounds product roadmap discussions. A better understanding of how the product is used and important insights into customers’ needs and desires are better understood by the Customer Success team.

Take for example the product management team adds a carousel feature to the profile section of an app while the customer success team has been receiving user complaints about finding it difficult to reach the profile settings option, the carousel, albeit attractive, complicates the problem. A recent article from Paystack’s design team lead, Opemipo Aikomo gives an insight into how the Payment Service Provider approaches Product Design and the important role that the Customer support team plays in ensuring that valuable data and insights are put into consideration.

In his article, Opemipo highlighted how asking the Customer success team questions regarding complaints and user behavior is an important step in the company’s Product roadmap and how the customer success team is completely involved from ideation to implementation. The result is an improved users-first approach to product development and management, one that has seen the company grow user checkout sessions by 15× between June and November 2018.

Keep and Grow customers with Customer Success-Product harmony. Image source: Gainsight

Another example is how companies like Product roadmap and marketing planning software, Aha! inculcates product management into its customer success department by encouraging applications for customer success roles to have product management experience and vice versa.

Research is one of the fundamentals of human-centered design and serves as a valuable pointer. Saddled with the responsibility of direct communication with customers, learning their pain points and understanding their thought process when using your products puts the customer success team in a really good position to carry out research and support the data-driven product management team.

This way, data-informed, customer-centered decisions are made and valuable products and features are built. With Customer Success-Product Management harmony, there exists clear communication and easier identification of the impact of, for example, product releases or the effect of a recent feature update.

Getting the right balance between Product management and Customer success teams’ inputs plays an important role in improving a Product’s usability level which then goes a long way to decide how satisfied targeted users are and how successful that product becomes.

This way, product roadmap decisions move from being strictly data-driven to more detailed and data-informed. It’s a win-win as customer success provides the much-needed empathy in a pixel, gridline and data-filled world of Product Management.

Do you feel like embarking this data-informed decisions adventure?

Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool


Meet the Author:
Hafeez Babatunde

Abdulhafeez Babatunde is a User Interface and User Experience designer passionate about Startup Growth and Product Development. He’s a graduate of Biochemistry from the University of Ilorin and an alumnus of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). enjoys learning technology trends and is currently trying his hands on robotics.

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