Now that you've read the The Complete Guide to Customer Research Interviews, you know that gathering intelligence from customer interviews, market analysis, online research, win/loss analysis, is critical to developing a strategy that drives product-market fit and growth. But once you have accumulated all your customer and market insights, what do you actually do with it? Here are 5 immediate steps to infuse your strategy with intelligence in practice.
Product leaders know they need to tailor their roadmap to customer demand. They base these decisions on market intelligence from the usual sources:
These sources are important, but are often indirect and lagging information, not to mention other biases. For those that just want to appease their boss, this may be enough. What you release next may or may not be successful, but at least you can show that you based your roadmap on sources. But for those that really care about a product that sells and users love, you need to balance this with more direct and predictive sources of intelligence.
Product and service offerings follow a growth lifecycle:
Once you hit Flatline and Decline, it is very hard to bounce back. Stories of flatlining businesses that suddenly take off again are rare indeed. While there are ways to resuscitate a flatlining business, the ideal is to NEVER GET THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE and instead take the right actions to ensure continuous growth.
"How would you feel if you couldn't use the product anymore?" According to growth hacking pioneer Sean Ellis, this is the question to ask to determine your level of product-market fit. In response, you are looking for at least 40% of your customer base who say they would be "very disappointed". This represents user passion.
As a product leader, you need customer intelligence to plan your strategy. But the customer data you collect from sales is biased. The data you get from market analysts is indirect. Even the data you collect yourself from customer interviews can be artificial, as customers are all too willing to be positive and tell you what you want to hear.
But there is one undeniable source of raw unfiltered customer intelligence that is too often overlooked - the Customer Success team. The Customer Success team gets customers when they are at their most passionate, emotional, even angry. Where there's emotion, there's usually a real pain point. It's rare to find that sort of honesty elsewhere.
A "single-threaded owner" (or "single-threaded leader") is a new role describing a general manager who is 100% focused and 100% accountable to making a company's new initiative succeed. The single threaded owner is given their mandate, which could be anything - invent a new product, launch a new line of business, migrate a company to the cloud - and every day they and their team wake up with one question: "how do I make this initiative succeed?". But in practice, single-threaded owners are given very hard problems to solve. Focus and accountability is a necessary step, but you still have to make your program succeed, from strategy to execution.
As a CIO, if your enterprise relies on solutions that look like something out of the 1990s, it's often because that's exactly what they are. These applications - ERPs and home-grown core operations systems met an immediate business need at the time, then layer upon layer was built on top and entrenched into the foundational processes of the business. Now you are at a catch-22: pressure to modernize to meet the growing digital needs of the enterprise, while at the same time not risking the legacy software that is vital to day-to-day operations.
How do you prioritize legacy transformation as part of a digital transformation roadmap?
Have you ever been involved in a “blue sky” brainstorming session, where teams are encouraged to put aside current constraints and dream up new innovations? In software, this is most common approach to innovation, and if done right, produces some results.
But an article by Uri Neren, founder of The World Database of Innovation initiative, announcing the complete opposite: the number one key to innovation is not the blue sky approach, but an approach involving constraint, scarcity, and closed-world thinking.
SaaS software platforms have had enormous success based on a fundamental principle: motivate users to keep coming back. Recurring usage leads to recurring revenue leads to crazy-high valuations.
In fact, most software attempts to motivate users in some way. But whether the goal is to lose weight, learn Spanish, save for retirement, or just get users to "check in" daily - long-term motivation is hard. You have to develop a habit in users that sticks.