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How Product Managers Find Out What Customers Really Want

Product managers are often tasked with coming up with solutions to customer problems. The key, however, is that they need to understand the situation in depth before they can find a solution for it.

The problem with a lot of product managers is that they don't know what to look for when trying to understand the needs and issues of their customers.

This blog post provides an overview of the critical areas that product managers should focus on when trying to understand what their customers need and working on enhancing Customer Satisfaction.

Let’s get into it.

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1. Hold Deep Conversations about Customers' Problems.

Deep conversations allow you to dig deeper into the customers’ pain points that might otherwise go unnoticed.

It's not enough for them to ask, "what do you think of this new feature?" and expect an answer. Instead, managers should try asking questions like:

  • “Why did you decide that this was something that you needed?”
  • “What do you expect to get out of this new feature?”
  • “What problems would it solve for you”
Holding deeper conversations is critical to shaping your next strategies and initiatives. Many brands conduct regular customer interactions to build brand awareness as well.

Product managers can uncover hidden insights that will help them develop a unique solution to the issue at hand by delving deep into their problems.

How to Find out Customers' Pain Points?

Product managers should start with questions like “What frustrates you the most while looking for products and services?” “What does an ideal solution look like?”

When product managers are leading these conversations, they should focus on making sure that all of the following areas are covered:

  • The customer's current situation – How does the company use your product now? What is working well for them? What do they struggle with most often?
  • Customer's needs and goals – What do customers want to achieve in their roles with your product? How will it impact what they have to do on a day-to-day basis?
  • Customer's problems – What are the most significant difficulties that they're facing now? How is your product impacting them?
  • The complete customer experience – What other tools do they use along with yours? Are there any gaps between each tool (and how does your product fit into it)?

For a more effective overview of the results, use a product reporting tool to track your customers’ feedback and response to your product. It will help you gather feedback and make better improvisation decisions.

2. Observe Customers in their Natural Environment

Sometimes product managers can better understand their customers' problems by simply observing them in the environment where they use the products.

For example, if you want to understand your mobile app users' issues when trying to sign up for an account, watch how they interact with the login screen and navigation menu while signing up. Many screen recording tools and heatmaps generators can provide you with these insights.

The deeper understanding that product managers can get from watching their customers in the natural environment will help them come up with a better solution to problems, and it's also how they can understand what features are most important for their users. In addition, use customer database software to keep a track of all customers and keep updating their information.

How to Observe your Customers Better for Insightful Details?

Product managers need to know how to observe their customers better to collect better, accurate information that will help them find out what customers want.

These are some key questions that you must have clarity on before heading into any observation session:

  • What do I expect the customer's experience with the company/product/feature to be like?
  • What signs am I looking for during my observation of the customer? Why am I observing this particular feature or process? How is it related to other areas of the product/company?
  • How can listening posts help me understand my customers' problems? Listening posts are places where you put tools like surveys, user testing sessions, and focus groups in the area around your office.

Product managers need to understand the "why" behind what people are doing to gain more insights into the customer experience.

3. Create a Survey or Questionnaire for Customers to Fill Out

Asking customers directly about their problems can be tricky, especially if your company is just starting to engage with customers.

It is why product managers should consider creating a survey or questionnaire for the customers to fill out about their current struggles and needs when trying to solve them with an existing product or feature.

Survey questions not only help you understand customer problems in a more detailed way, but they also help you get feedback from real users about the product.

It is beneficial for understanding how much customers care about specific features or any other problems that your company needs to address right away.

How to Create Informative Surveys for Customers?

Surveys are an excellent way to get information from customers about their pain points and how to fix them, but they can also be ineffective if not done correctly.

To increase the quality of the feedback you receive from your customers, product managers should ensure that these questions are included in their surveys:

  • Are the questions specific and clear enough so that customers can understand them?
  • How likely are they to answer the questions in this survey?
  • How much time will it take for them to fill out this survey?
  • Is there any follow-up information they should provide when filling out the survey?

Product managers should avoid ambiguous questions, especially ones with vague answers like "What are your thoughts about the new feature?" since it's hard to analyze what customers' responses mean.

Make sure you also include open-ended questions where customers can describe their problems more clearly. This way, product managers can better understand what's going wrong if users cannot use a particular feature correctly.

4. Survey Other Product Managers about What they Think their Customers Want

Your peers in your organization and the industry can sometimes give you precious insight into what your customers might want.

These people understand what customers want to get out of their products because they work with them every day.

For example, if you have a project manager who works closely with certain customer accounts at an e-commerce company, you can ask them what customers want to get out of the products.

Like with surveys and questionnaires, product managers should share their insights with other managers and leaders to know how customer problems are evolving. Customer lifecycle management for every product and service will be different. Surveying other product managers will give you an in-depth understanding of it.

How to Communicate with Other Product Managers?

Product managers at different companies can benefit from communicating about what they're observing about their customers. It can create better products in general, so there's no reason why they shouldn't be sharing insights and feedback.

Here are some things you should consider when reaching out to other stakeholders in your organization:

  • What information would be most helpful to them?
  • What type of information is most vital for them to take into consideration?
  • How can you share that information without simply copying or plagiarizing it? For example, by explaining your reasoning behind why this insight is worth sharing.
  • How much time do you have (and how much time do they have)? Use the right tools for your observation sessions.

It can be challenging to ask customers for feedback, especially if you're constantly dealing with other business issues that you have no experience in. Product managers should utilize the different tools at their disposal to make it easier while observing customer sessions.

Using tools like kanban software can help you keep a track of overall progress.

5. Conduct Focus Groups with Potential Customers

Focus groups are an excellent way for product managers to gain actionable insight into what customers want, need or expect from their products. Understand in-depth about customer service philosophy to know your potential customers even better.

You can use focus groups by inviting some of your potential target audience members to come onsite and have an informal conversation with them about the problems you're trying to solve.

It is also an opportunity for you and your team members to hear directly from potential users about why they interact with particular features in the way that they do.

How to Nurture Potential Customers?

One of the best ways to find out what customers want is nurturing them while they're at different stages in your sales funnel.

Here are some tips you can follow for a seamless customer nurturing experience:

  • Put together a drip campaign that gives targeted prospects more information about how your company's products can solve their problem(s).
  • Listen to customers in the right way to understand their buying motivation.
  • Understand potential customers’ pain points and offer them instant solutions.
  • Integrate the best knowledge base tools into your website so customers can have all the crucial information handy at all times.
  • To truly get a sense of what people want, take every bit of feedback seriously.

6. Interview Industry Experts and Ask them What they Think your Target Market Wants

Industry experts deeply understand the problems that customers face daily. There's a reason why they're experts in the first place.

Additionally, talking to industry experts can help you understand what your customers want because they don't work for your company and aren't biased towards it.

They'll be more than happy to share with you their expertise and opinions on how product managers should approach specific problems and needs that come up in the industry.

Having an idea of what your target market wants is essential to creating a successful product that people will want and need, so you need to be on top of these things.

How to Conduct Productive Interviews with Industry Experts?

When you talk to industry experts, make sure that you ask them about problems your customers face and how they think these issues should be solved.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Don't simply ask them what would be the next cool thing for people to have because they're not going to know how to answer this question, and it's also a waste of their time.
  • Ask them what they think is the best way for product managers to solve customers' pain points so that customers use their products more often and for better reasons.
  • To get interviewees to open up, don't just stick with boring questions like "What inspires you?" Ask them thought-provoking questions such as "What are some real-world examples of people using technology in innovative ways that you've seen?"
  • Stick to the point and keep the interview crisp, but don't be afraid to dig deep and ask people about their thought processes.

7. Conduct Exit Intent Surveys on your Website

In the year 2020, the global e-commerce sales amounted to 4.28 trillion US dollars. Most businesses today sell online and they understand that not all website visitors convert, i.e. accomplish conversion goals. These people can most definitely become qualified leads and even customers if you could identify what is that they expect from your website, an important source of revenue for most businesses. 

This is where Exit Intent Surveys come into play. A website Exit Intent Survey is created for visitors who exit your website without making a purchase or sending a query. It can also be used to understand challenges faced by current customers, leading to subscription cancellations or cart abandonment.

It allows asking them with a simple survey popup what is it that they would require to complete the purchase. This way you can discover potential customers' challenges, for example, high delivery cost, incomplete description on products, etc. 

An Exit Intent Survey is triggered when the visitor:

  • Moves the cursor towards the close button on the top right of the screen.
  • Moves the cursor to go back and exit the website. 

And the best part is that you can effortlessly create great Exit Intent Surveys using an efficient survey tool, which you can also use to conduct CSAT, NPS, and CES surveys. 

Key Takeaways

  • Product management is a journey with each milestone bringing something new, you need to evolve and update yourself with customer preferences to innovate constantly.
  • Your customers can offer lots of valuable insights for you, you just need the right strategies and tools to capture the insights and turn them into actions.
  • Insights about your customers’ preferences can come from different places, such as other managers and stakeholders, make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunities for leveraging these insights.

Closing Words

A product manager's job is never finished. They are constantly thinking about what their customers want, and they use many different techniques to make sure that the product meets customers' needs in a way that makes sense.

A deeper understanding of customer problems will allow you to create products that better solve those issues, directly impacting customer satisfaction as well as the bottom line.

Guest Author

Written by Guest Author

Nov 29, 2021

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