In her keynote session at #mtpcon London 2022, Sharon Anne Kean, Product Lead and Head of Global Expansion at Wise, talks about the tools she finds most useful to deliver maximum impact when she doesn’t have much time for product management work.
Watch this video or read on for key highlights from the talk.
The process of figuring out what problem to solve is a very valuable one for product managers, says Sharon, and she looks at some of things you can do to go through that process very quickly.
Sharon worked at a number of startups and in the charity sector before her current role at Wise. There’s not much in common between the different businesses she’s worked for, she says, other than the solving of a pretty important problem for somebody.
Sharon starts by talking about Wise, which is an international money transfer service that aims to move money around the world faster, quicker and more simply than traditional banks. Today, every £1 in £40 sent across borders is sent with Wise. It has 3,000+ employees, about 100 are product managers and 500 are engineers. She’s so busy in her role that she only has time for a few hours each week for actual product management work.
The PM capsule wardrobe
She says she was told that we wear 5% of our clothes 95% of the time, so we get great value out of a few items of clothing – a capsule wardrobe – and ended up thinking about how she could apply the same idea to her product work. How could she get 5% of her product management time to result in 95% of her product management impact?
The PM version of the capsule wardrobe is a playbook composed of interchangeable tools only, to maximise the product work. The aim is to have a playbook suitable for any product problem without needing excessive amounts of time.
What tools does Sharon really rely on?
Which opportunity is your biggest lever? A KPI Tree helps you to orientate quickly on the right metric to move. You can apply it to problems of any size and Sharon runs through some different examples.
Where are you losing people? A basic funnel comprises awareness, onboarding, using and advocating. You should work out what the funnel’s golden events are that are true for all customers, says Sharon. Somewhere in the product one of these events will need more help than the others, she says. She also gives examples from her work at Wise.
How likely is a customer to recommend your product to a friend? This is Sharon’s favourite hanger in the PM capsule wardrobe. She recommends that every PM spends some time each week or month reading their customers’ NPS comments: “It’s the easiest way to digest the sentiment that’s coming through. You don’t have to take notes, you don’t have to categorise it. Just read it and you’ll get a feel for what the problem is.”
It only tells you about customers who are using the product, but for these customers it’s one of the most valuable tools there is, Sharon says. It can give you a good sense of what people like about your product but Sharon always starts with detractors because you’ll get to improving the product faster that way. She puts foreign-language comments through Google Translate, and categorises the comments. She also looks into the customer profile if anything is unclear and then summarises the issues and links them to events in the funnel so that they can be acted on.
Where are customers asking for help? Every person who joins Wise has to spend some time with the customer support team to learn about this. It gives you empathy and an immediate idea of what customers are trying to do with the product.
The real power of the PM capsule wardrobe comes from combining these tools, says Sharon. She demonstrates how this is done to good effect at Wise.
If you’re building a product that solves a real problem for someone then they’ll come and use it: this is the underlying ethos of the PM capsule wardrobe, says Sharon. If customers are happy then the product will grow – customer advocacy is the biggest driver of growth. “I’ve never worked in a company where this has worked so well,” says Sharon, “nearly 70% of our customers come to us via word of mouth.”