What product managers might not know about insights
Today we are talking about markets and customer insights. Great product managers understand their customers and know how to gain insights about their unmet needs.
Darshan Mehta is our guest to help us explore this topic. He is the Founder of iResearch.com, an insights platform to quickly and affordably extract insights from consumers worldwide, and ConnectQik.com, an app for instant connections and engaging interactions.
In addition he has taught at The George Washington University in Washington D.C., at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and at other universities.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:12] How can we make a human connection between our products and customers?
In the past, innovation was more product-focused. Now, people aren’t buying products; they’re buying experiences. The focus of your innovation should be humanizing your product.
[4:45] What are customer insights?
We often think of insights as facts or observations, but they’re actually a combination of trends in society, emotions, triggers, and motivations. Comedians do an excellent job finding insights. They take an observation and combine it with other elements of human nature and trends to make you say, “That is so funny and so true.”
[8:16] How do we get customer insights?
The best way to tap into insights is to have conversations. For example, I did a focus group for a clothing retailer in Washington, DC, and a simple insight changed the store’s trajectory completely. They talked to shoppers, most of whom were women, and found these shoppers dropped off their kids in the morning at 9am and would have gone to the store but didn’t want to wait until it opened at 10am. The clothing store started opening at 9:30am, which boosted sales tremendously.
[10:31] What’s the importance of an emotional connection?
Most successful companies are doing at least one of three things: saving you time, saving you money, or making it easier. If you can do any one of those, your chances of being successful are pretty good. If you can achieve all three, you 3x your chances. If you can achieve all three plus evoke an emotional connection, that 3x is multiplied even more.
When people have a positive emotional experience with your product, they’re not only delighted; they also share on social media and promote your product.
[14:58] Are there any other ways to get customer insights?
With social media, you’re going to get feedback from your customers even if you’re not seeking it. They’ll post reviews and comments. Your choice is to take in that feedback now or later. You’re better off getting it sooner. Keep getting feedback and be prepared that it isn’t all going to be good. You have to listen to the negative feedback because it gives you opportunities for innovation and insights to improve your product or service.
Don’t just innovate your product. Also innovate to make your existing product obsolete. You are your own worst competitor. You can’t control your competitors, but you can control your existing product and transition to a new product so you have a sustained future.
It can be hard to take feedback when you’re in love with your solution. You want your product to do well, but part of that is tough love. Be open to criticism and set your emotions aside. The people giving negative feedback care enough about your product to want to complain about it. They have the potential to become your raving fans if you listen to what they’re saying. They may be giving you an entry into a great innovation.
[22:53] What’s an example of how you’ve found customer insights?
We did a project for the State Department, which was looking to hire more minorities in the State Department of Foreign Services. We decided to do a focus group online, which helped people set aside visual bias and give honest feedback.
When you have conversations like this, tap into what people are thinking and feeling. You’ve probably been a cocktail party where you’re talking to three or four people and you get on a topic you’re all interested in, and before you know it you’re feeding off each other and getting deeper and deeper into the topic. In conversations like this, you tap into thoughts and emotions you never thought about before and learn a lot about yourself and others.
[25:01] How did you set up the focus group for the State Department?
First, we invited potential attendees to do a screening survey to see if they fit the right demographics and were in the market for a job. We invited roughly 15 people to participate. This is an ideal number because 8-12 will show up and more than 15 will be too many for a deep discussion. We ran the discussion as an online chat session, so everyone could respond to the questions at the same time and respond to others’ answers. The chat format gave us a transcript full of insights and caused people to better articulate their thoughts. During the discussion, we showed the people ads and asked which ones appealed to them and whether they identified with the stories of people in the ads. We tapped into how people think and feel, which allowed us to better understand their motivators and triggers. From the discussion, we gained useful insights to use in a quantitative survey later to get even more insights.
Action Guide: Put the information Darshan shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Learn more about Darshan’s work at iResearch.com
“Today’s insights are tomorrow’s facts.” – Darshan Mehta
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.