How to find out what your customers want by Janet Bumpas "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs January 01 2023 False customer behaviour, Customer Focused, Product Discovery, ProductTank Oslo, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 657 Product Management 2.628

How to find out what your customers want by Janet Bumpas

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In this ProductTank Oslo talk, product consultant and coach Janet Bumpas explains the key aspect of a product hero: building a product that customers love.

What are products exactly?

Are they a blend of features unified in a central theme? Are they tools to complete certain jobs or enhance users’ living standards? Or are products simply things you create and sell to get revenue and profits for the company? Perhaps, they’re all these things.

However, as product managers, your answer should sound more like this: products are solutions to problems experienced by your personas.

Watch the video to see her talk in full, or read on for an overview of the key points on how to find out what your customers really want.

Customers don’t want more features

There’s a common myth that the more features we place in a product, the more customers will love it. However, before you take the same route, it’s best to consider a case in point:

Janet cites an internal Microsoft study where teams found their ideas had improved metrics they meant to address only one third of the time, one third of the time there was no improvement, and for the remaining third they had actually made matters worse.

If you consider that they were being paid to improve things, says Janet, then for two thirds of the time the teams’ efforts were being wasted. She quotes Microsoft general manager Ronny Kohavi, who ran the internal study: “All of the ideas tested were thought to be good ones – but neither intuition nor expert opinion are good gauges of the value our ideas have for users.”

Does talking to customers help to build a product they love?

What customers say they want and do are often two separate things.

Janet lists some ways that customers lie:

  • They’re too nice (Don’t want to hurt your feelings)
  • Confirmation bias or misperception (Don’t realise their behaviour)
  • Forgetful (Don’t remember accurately)
  • Vanity (Want to impress you/want not to look stupid)
  • Cultural bias (interpret in the local context)

While talking to consumers is a key part of product management, Janet reiterates that generating a hypothesis (qualitative work) can only be fruitful when you confirm it with market-based validation (quantitative work).

Talk to customers but validate your hypothesis in the market

Build a product that customers love by talking to customers; however, Janet says, don’t forget to validate in the market.

Wondering how to do it? Janet explains the four-step process to validate your product in the market:

  • Risky assumption
  • Prioritise
  • Minimum criteria for success
  • Test

Risky assumptions and prioritise

Janet says it’s best to pen your assumptions on “Post-It” notes, place them on your wall, and start filtering. Janet explains the process you need to follow when filtering assumptions:

  • Do customers want help solving their pain points? (Desirability)
  • Will customers pay you to address their problems? (Viability)
  • Can you solve the pain point? (Feasibility)

Minimum criteria for success

Make sure to set minimum criteria for success. Janet says it helps you decide whether the product is worth investing in and building.

Test

Janet explains a few ways to validate a product:

  • For desirability, you can employ helpful tools like ads, fake doors and landing pages
  • For viability, you can utilize landing pages, pre-sales letters, and letters of intent
  • For feasibility, you can use manual solutions

She goes through some great examples here – from her own experience of working on the Philips Norelco OneBlade product, from the disaster that was the Coolest Cooler on KickStarter, and from AirBnB’s concierge service.

Wrapping up

Being a product manager can be challenging. Janet concludes by saying that to be a product hero, you must go into the market and understand what customers want and do.

Learn more about ProductTank— find local meetups, see the latest ProductTank news, explore more content and discover ways to get involved!

In this ProductTank Oslo talk, product consultant and coach Janet Bumpas explains the key aspect of a product hero: building a product that customers love. What are products exactly? Are they a blend of features unified in a central theme? Are they tools to complete certain jobs or enhance users’ living standards? Or are products simply things you create and sell to get revenue and profits for the company? Perhaps, they’re all these things. However, as product managers, your answer should sound more like this: products are solutions to problems experienced by your personas. Watch the video to see her talk in full, or read on for an overview of the key points on how to find out what your customers really want.

Customers don’t want more features

There’s a common myth that the more features we place in a product, the more customers will love it. However, before you take the same route, it’s best to consider a case in point: Janet cites an internal Microsoft study where teams found their ideas had improved metrics they meant to address only one third of the time, one third of the time there was no improvement, and for the remaining third they had actually made matters worse. If you consider that they were being paid to improve things, says Janet, then for two thirds of the time the teams’ efforts were being wasted. She quotes Microsoft general manager Ronny Kohavi, who ran the internal study: “All of the ideas tested were thought to be good ones - but neither intuition nor expert opinion are good gauges of the value our ideas have for users.”

Does talking to customers help to build a product they love?

What customers say they want and do are often two separate things. Janet lists some ways that customers lie:
  • They’re too nice (Don’t want to hurt your feelings)
  • Confirmation bias or misperception (Don’t realise their behaviour)
  • Forgetful (Don’t remember accurately)
  • Vanity (Want to impress you/want not to look stupid)
  • Cultural bias (interpret in the local context)
While talking to consumers is a key part of product management, Janet reiterates that generating a hypothesis (qualitative work) can only be fruitful when you confirm it with market-based validation (quantitative work).

Talk to customers but validate your hypothesis in the market

Build a product that customers love by talking to customers; however, Janet says, don’t forget to validate in the market. Wondering how to do it? Janet explains the four-step process to validate your product in the market:
  • Risky assumption
  • Prioritise
  • Minimum criteria for success
  • Test

Risky assumptions and prioritise

Janet says it’s best to pen your assumptions on “Post-It” notes, place them on your wall, and start filtering. Janet explains the process you need to follow when filtering assumptions:
  • Do customers want help solving their pain points? (Desirability)
  • Will customers pay you to address their problems? (Viability)
  • Can you solve the pain point? (Feasibility)

Minimum criteria for success

Make sure to set minimum criteria for success. Janet says it helps you decide whether the product is worth investing in and building.

Test

Janet explains a few ways to validate a product:
  • For desirability, you can employ helpful tools like ads, fake doors and landing pages
  • For viability, you can utilize landing pages, pre-sales letters, and letters of intent
  • For feasibility, you can use manual solutions
She goes through some great examples here - from her own experience of working on the Philips Norelco OneBlade product, from the disaster that was the Coolest Cooler on KickStarter, and from AirBnB’s concierge service.

Wrapping up

Being a product manager can be challenging. Janet concludes by saying that to be a product hero, you must go into the market and understand what customers want and do. Learn more about ProductTank— find local meetups, see the latest ProductTank news, explore more content and discover ways to get involved!

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