Understanding the Product Management Customer Experience Puzzle


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I rarely have time for random conversations while traveling as I’m either too focused on catching my flight or my head is buried in a report—except on my last trip. I had quite an interesting conversation on a flight to San Diego which started as a simple question, “How does product management fit into customer experience?” After all, isn’t customer experience championed by marketing and customer service departments?

Customer Parables

The product management team must be able to decipher customer signals and tell the customer’s story. We are one of the few roles that often touch a customer before they are even a customer and continue to nurture the relationship over time. Today, companies collect a slew of customer data that product managers must then connect to deduce requirements and drive product improvements. And not just requirements that impact the customer’s business needs, but their emotional needs. Research shows that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels. Listening to customers to validate and guide the product development process then becomes very important. This extends beyond improving existing products to forward thinking and developing products that uncover unspoken needs. So the onus is on us to get the customers involved early and often so that we implement products and solutions that impact the customers’ shopping and delivery experience.

Customer Positioning

In product management we’re often the face of the product in that we are the ones sharing the future vision in roadmap discussions, listening to customer’s future needs to help align them with our solutions, discussing issues as they relate to the product, as well as working with sales for proper positioning up front. Our customers are not just those buying products and services but also internal customers. Product management must help sales articulate the competitive nuances of the solution and position the product in the right light to get prospects excited. Engineering also needs product management to ensure the right priorities are aligned early on in the process and the right level of requirements are being made to address the customer needs. In addition, the marketing team needs assurance that they are getting regular product releases to help build brand awareness and generate excitement in the market. We are responsible for establishing product positioning for both our internal and external customers.

Customer Defects

A critical part of the product management role within the customer experience is minimizing customer defects. It’s not just about developing the best product as even with best-in-class products—usability may impact the customer experience. It’s easy also to stop at developing a superior product and move on to the next big innovation. To minimize customer churn however, we must cast the net further—product usage, upgrades or even support. This means working closely with the support and services team to determine the types of customer contacts they receive and the cause. The team must then find ways to quickly rectify the issues with a fix, upgrade or new solution with as little effect on the customer experience as possible. Managing customer defects means walking a fine line between adding new features versus fixing problems and strengthening the existing feature set.

At the end of the day, customer experience involves every touch-point including product experience. It also requires the ability to quickly access knowledge and information throughout the organization to draw insights and make quick, accurate decisions. Without quick access to information, product management loses the responsiveness our many hats require during the customer lifecycle. Mirroring the right information at the right time to meet customer needs is absolutely critical.

For those in product management, how do you impact the customer experience and what role does information access and knowledge play?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stacy Leidwinger
Stacy Leidwinger serves as product management director for the Vivisimo Velocity Information Optimization Platform. In her role, she assists in driving product roadmap, market requirements, product positioning as well as interacting closely with customers and partners to understand their information challenges.


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