If you work for a technology company, you know that the product your company delivers is critical to the happiness of your customers and the success of your customer success efforts. Product teams typically have 3 distinct areas they are thinking about: Which bugs should be fixed, which customer-driven features should be included, and how to wow customers with innovative additions. Lucky for you, the Customer Success leader, you can help to drive 2 of the 3. I’ll take it one step further - you are responsible for helping your product team prioritize bug fixes and features.
That said, many product teams haven’t had much luck working with success (or sales or marketing) teams. Your product team might have a bias against customer feedback, especially if it has historically been delivered in an emotional way or has derailed the road map. Here are 3 ways to approach your product team that will help them understand what your customers need and prioritize accordingly.
We are customer success professionals and for us, nothing is worse than seeing a customer suffering because of a bug or missing feature. It is tempting to run over to your product team and exclaim about how desperate the situation is. This might work once or twice, but if this becomes the norm you’ll rapidly become the manager who cried wolf. Additionally, if you start chasing one-off features for individual customers you’ll end up derailing the big picture for your product. That hurts ALL of your customers. It’s much better to...
If you’re doing things right, your team is already collecting data on what customers are complaining about and asking for. This information is gold to your product team, especially if you take the time to compile it and combine it with valuable customer demographic data. Some of my favorites are annual revenue, company size, and industry. Give your product team a list of features customers are asking for, sorted by the annual revenue they represent, and just watch things happen! That said, there are some exceptions to these rules and as a success leader you need to…
Know When to Escalate
Everyone has big customers. These are the ones you advertise on your website and contribute a large percentage to your company’s annual revenue. Bug reports and feature requests from those customers are worth a separate conversation with your product team. While it is important to stay unemotional and present the data-driven facts, it is also important to call out to your product team the importance of these customer relationships to your organization. The product team is tied to the overall success of your company too!
These approaches can help you build a relationship with your product team and, over time, become a major driver of product development for your organization. For a tech company, that is the definition of Customer Success.