How to align your organization and product management team with the voice of your customer
In this discussion we address what it means to properly incorporate UX (user experience) into your product work. This is not merely making things look right. This is deeply understanding the user experience that creates greater value, beating competitors and delighting customers.
Joining us is Mark Baldino, UX product design expert and co-founder of Fuzzy Math, which designs software products for companies. Mark has 20+ years experience implementing human-centered design to solve difficult problems.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:37] Why should UX (user experience) be part of product strategy?
There’s no better way to provide customer value than aligning your organization and product team with the voice of your customer.
Often, UX gets bolted on at the beginning and end of the product cycle. Many organizations only contact their customers during sales and support, often because they’re scared to listen to their customer and make product decisions based on knowledge of their customers. Sales and support are important, but you’re missing out if you don’t also talk to customers while they’re using your product. Listen to customers and rely on a customer-centered design process.
[5:43] How do we make UX more effective in our product strategy?
Often, underperforming UX teams are stuck in a cycle responding to developers’ requests and fixing features without aligning the overall product with the customer. To get out of the cycle, you have to level-up and understand the entire process. Product managers are our best partners in this because they value listening to customers. You need to invest time and energy talking to current and potential customers and watching them use your products so you can make research-backed decisions. The power of user-centered design is that it allows us to tell stories about customers and the future of the product, getting product and engineering in full alignment. Pull cross-functional teams into the research and synthesis of concepts.
[10:15] What tools are helpful in UX?
- Super Q: a standardized set of questions asking the user to gauge the product’s features and functions
- Net Promoter Score: would you refer someone to this product?
- Interviews with customers: open-ended questions and discussion
- Observation of customers using the product
- Think Aloud method: customers says exactly what they’re doing while using the tool
- Personas: archetypes of the users
- Journey Maps: tell stories of how customers use the product
Through customer observation, you’ll learn that how people use tools is not how you think they use tools. Have stakeholders join you in observing customers; it’s illuminating for them to see how their customers are using the products.
[19:59] Wouldn’t adding UX to product strategy slow us down?
Adding UX will introduce new parts to the process, but you have to ask, What is the cost of not adding UX? What is the business suffering from because you’re not spending time with customers and not making informed decisions? It might be a decrease in efficiency of your team, a lot of rework, high customer support numbers, low customer satisfaction, or missing sales. One study showed that UX give a 10x ROI. It may be closer to 3 or 4 times, which is still really good. When you begin to use UX, you will slow down for a period of time, but the cost of not doing anything is much greater.
If you’re going to embrace UX, start running parallel paths. Choose a pilot project you can run with user-centered design while still doing incremental updates on the current product. This gives you an internal case study that will demonstrate the benefits of UX.
[25:14] Tell us more about how to incorporate UX.
UX adds a Voice of the Customer program. You’re installing listening devices to find out how your customers are using your product, such as:
- in-app analytics
- quantitative longitudinal studies
- user interviews
At the beginning, you need to do a batch of discovery. We use scorecards based on our experience in the industry to pair SaaS and UX criteria with customer research. The goal is to bring together all the data so the team can make decisions on it. Take bite-sized pieces. You could start with incorporating UX into one feature. If you do a complete redesign, know that it will take more discovery.
During your pilot project, work on creating alignment in three areas: people, process, and purpose. You need the right people in the right seats doing the right things. The new people are doing a new process—research. You need UX to be aligned with the bigger vision. Many people equate UX with UI (user interface), but it’s not about making your product look pretty. Begin with low-fidelity design, moving to high-fidelity design.
Action Guide: Put the information Mark shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
“The sooner a company tries to be what it is not, the sooner it tries to ‘have it all,’ the sooner it will die.” – Yvon Chouinard
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator 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.