As any great product manager knows, creating an amazing product means understanding your target audience. It is important to know what your potential customers are looking for from the type of product you are planning. In-depth customer research is something that can take a product from good to great, which is why customer research cannot be an afterthought. Successful integration of customer research needs to be considered from the beginning and should be interwoven throughout the product planning process.
The product planning process is very busy and can become messy and disorganized very quickly. With the right strategy, tools, and oversight, product planning becomes easier, along with managing customer feedback. This article will detail ways in which organization, tools, and communication can help you improve your products.
Step One: Get Customer Feedback
The first and obvious step is to gather the feedback from the customers. There are several ways to do this.
Work Closely With Customer Success Teams
When creating products and researching improvements, it’s important to work closely with your customer success teams. You’ll want to know what customers love about current product models, what they wish they could see on existing products, and even what they enjoy about the competition’s products. Your customer success team should have this data collected from feedback surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups.
If you don’t feel the need to work with a customer success team, you could bypass that step and hand-pick customers yourself for feedback. The information you receive from hand-selected users can be very valuable when shared with other teams as well.
Test a Prototype or MVP and Gather Feedback
Another way to gain customer feedback on new products is to give a select group of customers prototypes to test and review. This process lets you test new features to see how they perform and whether the user enjoys and finds them valuable before implementing them on a larger scale.
When testing a prototype, it’s important to collect and keep a record of customer feedback resulting from the tests. Consistently organizing and sharing information makes it easy to make decisions and implement product decisions at any point during the product development process.
Step Two: Sort the Information
As you gather customer feedback, test data, and observational information, you’ll need to manage the valuable information. Depending on who has gathered the information, it’s important to work collaboratively to ensure no information is missed and that all feedback is accessible to those who need it.
Use Software to Sort and Share Insights
Sharing the business goals, product vision, and market research is easy to do with the right tools in place. When internal teams have software that keeps them updated in real-time, shares reports, and is accessible to everyone on the product team, sorting the information needed for product planning gets easier.
Step Three: Prioritize the Needs
It can be easy to fall into the trap of trying to solve every problem the customer has when often the customer can’t articulate what they really want from a product. This is where a clear strategy and company goals must be articulated and shared with all stakeholders. When it’s clear what your company wants to focus on, it’s easier to choose which improvements to develop first and which can wait for a later model.
Consider the way you work with new ideas. If customers are at the center of your ideation, you’re probably on the right track. But what is the best way to think about customers during ideation, and how can you optimize for success? It’s vital to have a system in place to sort and prioritize the needs of the customer with the vision of the company and the value of the development.
Step Four: Create the Solutions
Once you’ve gathered feedback from customers and users and sorted and prioritized the ideas, now you can begin to create solutions for your products.
Research Market Trends
It’s essential to research the markets in which you plan to launch your products. Doing the research means you have real data to inform your decisions rather than guessing at what you think your customer wants. Staying on top of market insights will help you make adjustments in your product strategy to better consider and understand the customers that your product caters to. As this research is completed, it’s crucial to share it with relevant teams.
Path One: Short-Term Solutions
One path you can take with new ideas and r is short-term. This type of ideation aims to come up with products that create solutions for immediate customer needs and wants. This can be developed faster and has a quick reward since there is already a demand for the product.
This ideation and short-term product development path can easily be organized within a product roadmap. When you create a product roadmap, you can understand how to get from point A to point B, and with product roadmap management software, you can make all kinds of adjustments to help optimize the roadmap. You can create a section all about customer needs and the plans to address them, and that section can be expanded on or condensed as needed. Information becomes more readable and digestible, and communication is a breeze.
Path Two: Long-Term Innovation
Another path you can take when ideating new products gets you thinking in the long term. It makes you look at the big picture to plan and invest in long-term solutions by thinking about things that customers could benefit from in the future. These kinds of products don’t exist yet, so these kinds of projects require highly skilled managers to come to fruition. You need to consistently update your customer research, and you need to deeply understand the wants and needs of the customers. You must plan far ahead and be organized, communicative, and proactive.
Building a product roadmap for this kind of project is a big task. You need to use product roadmap management software that works with you to keep everything organized and up to date. Consider your own product development process and what you need in order to be successful. What features are the most important to you? You need to be able to set out big plans with detailed steps and extensive research, so finding the right software for you is key.
Integrate Customer Research Into Product Plans
The only way to ensure your customer research gets included in the product plans is to have systems for communication and sharing up-to-date information with your relevant teams. Communication, cross-functional collaborations, and a clear strategy help at every step of the way.
If you are ready to make product management easier for your teams, book your free demo with Gocious today.