How to Put your Customers at the Center of your Product Strategy

Many teams are underutilizing the resources they have on hand and missing out on centering product around customers.

The world of product management has been changing rapidly over the past five years. A bevy of new thought leaders has found prominence, instructive books are piling up, and classes detailing the latest techniques are everywhere. Many of these forums discuss the importance of putting customers at the center of product strategy and introduce techniques to increase the quality of customer discovery practices. Yet, we observe that customers are not always at the center of product strategy. Why does this happen?

In our experience across hundreds of diligence projects, we find many companies that struggle to articulate a cohesive product strategy grounded in customer intelligence. We usually see a list of planned features that the company plans to launch with little attention paid to the customer value or outcomes they may bring (or not bring).

Utilize existing customer resources

While product teams often lack comprehensive customer intelligence, they have a strong desire to improve and often know more than they realize. Here are resources companies have but are often underutilized in prioritizing feature work:

  1. Customer reports (via customer success or customer service teams) are often underutilized because they are in a format that takes time to consume.
  2. Sales representative notes (from discovery calls, demos, proposals) are often underutilized because they aren’t generating quality or relevant feedback.
  3. User analytics are often underutilized because there are only a few SMEs on the team who know how to access/use the information.

Even amongst teams who are using these resources regularly, many are new to using them and need help to make sure they’re getting the most out of them. Teams shouldn’t be discouraged when facing these barriers, small steps can make a huge impact and can foster healthy product culture changes.

Partner with your sales and operation leaders

Talk to sales and operations leaders openly about your desire to partner and use the insights they produce. Help them understand which upcoming decisions this might enable. Work together to create categories that will help you sift through the insights easier (segment by churn risk, # of incidents, type of incident, sentiment, etc.). Tell them the areas you would like to explore further and the hypothesis you are trying to validate. Then revert when their help has driven a valuable product feature.

Commit to a schedule

Improving the activation of user analytics can take time, so start small. Commit to looking at the data 30 minutes a week and sharing an insight with colleagues. Spark new discussions with this information informally. Block off the time and commit to a schedule to create new healthy habits.

How can Cuesta help?

At Cuesta, we take a pragmatic approach to helping teams increase the maturity level of their customer intelligence strategy by enabling teams to increase the frequency of customer interactions, introduce more comprehensive techniques, as well as optimize the way in which information is shared across the organization. The Cuesta approach takes into consideration the market dynamics and desired culture required to be successful in your industry.

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