I hear the statement ‘Product is the Voice of the Customer’ too often. It is usually put forward by product managers who lack maturity in product discipline and observe old-school philosophies. However, the phrase continues to be common enough among a minority in our field. This post will discuss how UX strategists, particularly in collaboration with product managers and developers, are the most well-equipped to represent the voice of the customer.
The empathy ambassador
In the ever-evolving landscape of product development, a powerful trio (‘The Pod’) of key players are responsible for amplifying the voice of the customer. It is the UX strategist, however, that is best suited to fulfill the role of the ‘empathy ambassador’. The empathy ambassador possesses specialized skills in user research and design thinking. As a result, the Strategist champions empathy as a driving force behind customer-centric products.
Their primary focus is to unravel the intricacies of user behavior, emotions, and aspirations with a deep understanding of the pains, needs, and wants of the customer. Through customer interviews, usability testing, and other research methods, the UX strategist gathers valuable insights that lay the foundation for exceptional customer experiences. They ensure the inclusion of the product manager to align the product strategy with real customer needs, ensuring that the product resonates with the intended audience. With this in mind, it might appear as though the UX strategist is the ultimate voice of the customer.
Let’s not forget the inclusion of our master artisan, the developer. With their technical prowess, the developer breathes life into the product. They transform concepts and designs into functional products that captivate customers. The developer’s deep understanding of technology allows them to navigate complexities and turn ideas into tangible realities.
The developer collaborates with the product manager and UX strategist, translating customer insights and design specifications into the product customers can touch and feel.
Specialized, yet inclusive
Now that the groundwork has been laid, let’s explore the reasons why UX strategists are more effective at representing the voice of the customer.
- Specialized expertise: UX Strategists are trained professionals with specialized expertise in understanding customer behavior, psychology, and design. Their knowledge of human-centered design principles enables them to delve deep into customer needs and motivations, extracting valuable insights that go beyond surface-level feedback.
- Emphasis on empathy: Empathy lies at the core of UX. UX Strategists are adept at placing themselves in the shoes of customers, empathizing with their pain points, and crafting experiences that truly resonate. This heightened level of empathy allows them to grasp the emotional aspect of customer interactions and create products that evoke delight.
- Advocacy for user-centricity: While Product Managers juggle various responsibilities, UX Strategists place dedicated focus on advocating for customer-centricity. They are unwavering advocates for the customer’s voice, consistently reminding the Pod of the end-customer needs, goals, and aspirations throughout the product development process.
- Seamless user experiences: UX Strategists are skilled in crafting seamless customer experiences that span across products, services, and touchpoints. They have a deep appreciation for the holistic journey of customers and work to ensure that every interaction aligns with customer expectations.
- Design thinking approach: UX Strategists often employ design thinking methodologies, which emphasize co-creation and collaboration. This approach fosters a deeper understanding of customers by involving them directly in the ideation and validation of product concepts.
The flip side
While product managers strive to be customer-centric, they may unintentionally make certain mistakes during the process of conducting customer-centric research. Identifying and addressing these common pitfalls can lead to more effective and insightful research outcomes. Let’s delve into the flip side of UX leading the way.
- Confirmation bias: One of the most significant errors of some product managers is falling prey to confirmation bias, seeking information that validates preconceived notions rather than being open to unbiased feedback. Product managers may unknowingly overlook negative feedback or prioritize positive input, which can hinder a comprehensive understanding of customer needs.
- Relying solely on internal feedback: Relying solely on internal stakeholders for product feedback can create a biased view. While input from colleagues and team members is valuable, it should be supplemented with direct customer insights to ensure a well-rounded perspective.
- Asking leading questions: Framing questions in a way that prompts users to provide desired answers pollutes the research process. Product managers should strive to ask open-ended questions that allow customers to express their genuine thoughts and experiences.
- Neglecting context: Overlooking the context in which customers interact with the product can result in misguided conclusions. Product managers must consider the customer’s environment, situation, and real-world challenges to make informed decisions.
- Not involving UX experts: Neglecting to involve UX experts in the research process significantly limits the depth and quality of insights gathered. Embracing the expertise of UX researchers and designers ensures a robust customer-centric approach.
- Misinterpreting feedback: Misinterpreting customer feedback or failing to validate findings can lead to misguided product decisions. Product managers must rigorously analyze data and corroborate insights to ensure accuracy.
By acknowledging these common mistakes and proactively addressing them, product managers can elevate the quality of customer-centric research and make more informed decisions to create products that genuinely cater to customer needs.
It is clear that the misconception that product managers are the undisputed voice of the customer still lingers. While they undeniably play a critical role in aligning products with business goals, being the sole representatives of the customer’s voice is absurd.
Hopefully, this writing sheds light on why product managers are not inherently qualified for this role. Rather, the unique strengths of UX strategists, and the Pod’ consisting of a product manager, UX strategist, and developer can together elevate the voice of the customer to new heights.