How product managers can focus on creating great products for their customers
Today we are talking about the product-led organization. We have seen many organizations in the last few years move the product group and product roles to more prominent positions, putting clearer focus on creating great products for customers.
To help us explore this topic is the founder of Pendo and the author of the book, The Product-Led Organization: Drive Growth by Putting Product at the Center of Your Customer Experience.
You likely already know his name, which is Todd Olson, who joined us previously in episode 185.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:45] What makes a product-led company?
Product-led companies put product at the center of the customer experience. Every department is thinking about how it can use product to better perform its activities, rather than the product management team leading the business. Companies like these are shifting from human-led motion to product- and digital-led motion. The company is the product in many ways. Your business is not just about how the product performs; it’s about the entire customer lifecycle.
[3:40] What’s an example of a product-led company?
Tesla is a very product-led business. Through the entire customer experience, all the interaction with the product from purchasing to updates is digital.
[6:00] What are some tools for understanding customers?
- Empathy Maps force the product manager to get inside the head of the customer and find out what they’re thinking, hearing, and experiencing. Develop deep empathy for your customer. A great product lies in understanding what your users are going through.
- Observe customers using your product. Watch videos of customers using your product and thinking out loud. Record yourself using the software.
- Make sure the development team understands why you’re building the product. The what of how the product functions can change, but you should clearly understand the why. The best teams have collaboration between product management, development, and engineering. They can debate the what because they all have a deep sense of why.
[14:30] How can we use data to get closer to our customers?
We often have opinions about how our customers are using our product, and we may argue about those and get nowhere. Instead, we need to use data to find out what’s actually happening and find insights. I like to start with outliers. You might find a user who uses one feature more than two times as much as other users. You need to dig in and find out why. Often, outliers are trying to do something with your product that you make very hard for them to do. You don’t always want customers to be using features a lot. See if you can redesign the product to make it easier for them.
[20:16] What are your suggestions for structuring and using roadmaps?
Especially for B2B software, roadmaps are a critical part of communicating with customers. Even for B2C software, when we buy products, we’re investing in a company and a vision. We’re buying the roadmap. Because of that, it’s really valuable to put out a roadmap, not because you’re necessarily committing to do it, but because you’re signaling your direction. Your roadmap communicates to customers the direction you’re going and helps them know if that direction aligns with their objectives. Communicate that your roadmap is subject to change, and don’t make it too polished and specific. I like to use calendar view or force-ranked lists, which force customers to pick between tradeoffs. The roadmap is all about communication, both internally and with your customer.
Action Guide: Put the information Todd shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Check out Todd’s book on Amazon
- Learn more about Pendo
- Connect with Todd on Twitter or LinkedIn
- Listen to TEI 185 with Todd Olson
“Great companies are built on great products.” – Elon Musk
Thank you for taking the journey to product mastery and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.