How Product Managers can Work with Customer Support

This UserVoice post on getting product managers to listen to user feedback highlights some of the potential tensions between customer and product management teams from the other side of the coin. “Something I hear over and over from customer service and community teams is that the product management team doesn’t seem to care about customer feedback. As the folks who are trying to make these customers happy, this is quite frustrating,” says community manager Evan Hamilton.

Any good product manager should of course put customer needs at the heart of their daily decisions. But what does that mean when it comes to interacting with customer service and support teams?

A clearly defined and well-documented process can mean the end of wasted back and forth for both parties.

Surface the timeliest feedback

Your customer service team are the first port of call for your users’ frustrations and challenges. Customer feedback of course might come from many different sources, but here your customers’ most pressing pain points (those they are pushed to reach out to you about) can highlight some of the changes you absolutely must make if you are to keep their business. When customer representatives make use of user feedback capture tools in ProdPad, you can be sure that each of these instances are recorded and that no threatening issue is overlooked.

Delight customers

As well as fixing their pain, good customer service is also about delighting users. When customer service teams and product management teams work together effectively, they can identify new opportunities to delight users with quick product wins. At ProdPad, we ourselves use tags such as ‘fun’ on ideas dedicated purely to making customers happy.

Making use of ProdPad’s features and integrations, it’s easy to communicate those changes back to relevant customers too. A complete feedback loop is made simpler by either recording customer contact details directly against feedback and ideas, or by integrating tools such as UserVoice to automate updates to customers when their suggestions have been taken on board.

Build a workable case

When customer service data is shared with product management, problems can be better solved and value more easily created. But how does this work? If you are to avoid the frustration of customer reps who feel their feedback is going ignored, or the stress of product managers who are bombarded by the same enquiries day in and day out, good process is key.

In ProdPad, user feedback is logged separately from fully formed product ideas. This way customer service teams aren’t limited in the number of times they log a piece of feedback, in fact comprehensive coverage of this important information should be encouraged. Yet in linking feedback to a single product idea each time the issue is surfaced, product managers can avoid repetition and keep track on the traction of an idea in a measured way.  Service teams can help to build a workable case for a new idea and champion their customers’ needs, keeping everyone happy.


Any good product manager should put customer needs at the heart of their daily decisions.
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If you’d like to find out more about how ProdPad can facilitate collaboration between product management and customer support teams, get in touch for a chat or sign up for a free 14 day trial

 

The post How Product Managers can Work with Customer Support appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

24
Jul 2014
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Bringing together Product Management and Developers, the Right Way.

Product Management sits at the intersection of customer, technology and business. The product manager’s role is a continual balancing act between each of these areas, which means involving the right people, in the right ways, at the right times.

In this series on opening up product management to different parts of your organization, we save perhaps the most pressing for last. Here’s best practice on how product managers and developers can work together effectively using good processes and ProdPad tools.

Allow each beast its habitat

Developers need their own tools and processes – they work differently to not only product management, but the rest of your organization. That’s what their project management or sprint backlog systems, like JIRA, Trello and Pivotal Tracker, are designed for. Creating a dedicated space for idea management not only enhances product management processes but protects the development habitat from encroachment. Developers need visibility of every task that will be done.  However product managers need to be able to capture every possible product idea to ensure nothing is lost. ProdPad allows for gradual and fluid development of product specs and prioritization that is open and accessible to everyone in your team. And ProdPad roadmaps define epics into current, near-term and future priorities offering your development team a structure that can be translated into sprints without tying them to unachievable dates.

100% dev-ready product specs

The best way to bring together product management and development is to define a clear hand-over point for delivery. Nothing should make its way to developers until it has been completely approved for build and provides all information needed to make a start. As a general rule, product specs that move from product to project management tools should be sufficiently developed that a junior developer with little knowledge of that specific product roadmap could make a start on implementation. ProdPad idea canvases provide a complete template of the information you should look to provide, from user stories to technical requirements.

Never too much information

However, just as important as providing all the information your developers need, is to avoid information overload.  Using ProdPad, ideas are pushed to developer tools like JIRA on a case-by-case basis. When setting up your integrations you choose which fields are synced, confident that all additional information can be followed up by developers using links – should they need it.  When you allow systems to do the talking, such as updating statuses when a feature moves into a new stage of development, communication can be saved for the important stuff and developers can keep on developing interruption free.


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If you’d like to find out more about how ProdPad integrates with development tools, read this JIRA case study

And if you’re new to ProdPad you can sign up for a 14 day free trial here

The post Bringing together Product Management and Developers, the Right Way. appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

21
Jul 2014
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What’s the Role of your Customer in Product Management?

Sitting at the heart of technology, business and customer, product management is a process by which a product vision is translated into a valuable product. Getting organized internally is one thing, but involving your customers presents different challenges. What is an appropriate level of customer engagement in product management processes and decisions?

A product manager must be a champion of customer needs. But involving customers is not about jumping to respond to every request and suggestion. Involving customers in product management is about knowing when this should be direct, and when to use other tools to represent their needs. Letting customers into product management at the right moments is key to building better products.

Direct customer involvement

Customer conversations

Whenever they get the opportunity, product managers should be having real conversations with real users. Depending on your business model this might mean picking up the phone or organising to meet with small groups in person. Whether to discuss a particular piece of feedback, an idea on the roadmap or just a check in with core users, it’s important to start talking. These conversations can not only surface fresh product insight, but help us to internalise our customers’ needs, problems and attitudes.

MVP and user testing

An important element of the MVP philosophy is to get products out to customers at the earliest possible stage. You should make only the necessary assumptions about your users’ needs to build minimum viable products that can be taken to customers for feedback. Use wireframes to walk your customers through new products and changes, and share prototypes with customers at different stages of product development to make sure you’re on the right track.

Open roadmap

Sharing your roadmap with customers both keeps them informed and gives you perspective on how effectively you’re moving towards your product vision. However, that doesn’t mean you have to share your entire inner workings with customers. If you have particular projects or developments you aren’t ready to make public, create a customer-friendly version of your roadmap that you’re happy to discuss in full detail.

 

Indirect customer involvement

Customer feedback

Although customer feedback comes from customers initially, it is a data source that should be analysed alongside other factors rather than taken at face value. Product Managers should base decisions heavily on customer feedback, but individual suggestions shouldn’t guide product evolution or development time. Listening to feedback is about trying to piece together the big picture of customer needs.  Look for trends in customer feedback, and weight ideas differently depending on who they come from – feedback from your target market is the most important of all.

User personas

User personas are virtual representatives of your customers. They have a name, a face and personal details, but they aren’t real people. They are fictional representations, based on the real conversations that helped you to understand your customers inside-out. Building user personas allows you to do product management grounded in user needs, without getting bogged down in the detail of specific customers and all their anomalies. Before you take your new product ideas out to real customers, test your inkling, staff suggestion or piece of feedback against your personas.


What's the Role of your Customer in Product Management?
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If you’d like to find out more about how ProdPad helps you to work effectively with customers, get in touch with us here

And if you’re new to ProdPad, you can sign up for a free 14 day trial here.

The post What’s the Role of your Customer in Product Management? appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

15
Jul 2014
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How to Incorporate Designers into Product Management

Product Management sits at the intersection of customer, technology and business. The product manager’s role is a continual balancing act between each of these areas, which means involving the right people, in the right ways, at the right times.

In this post, we take you through how to incorporate designers into product management, using good processes and ProdPad tools.

Track design iterations

Visuals are hugely important when it comes to explaining new product ideas, and no more so than when it comes to the design stage. Integrating designers as early as possible into the communication process for new ideas helps to keep your products moving in the right direction.  ProdPad allows you to upload mockup files directly to an idea to share with everyone who’s following. And as your designers refine these mockups, wireframes and prototypes over time they can continue to upload files as iterations. This way you have a complete record of how designs have evolved based on new discoveries and team feedback.

Track your designs and specs and keep everyone in the loop with the latest revision

Track your designs and specs and keep everyone in the loop with the latest revision

Solicit clear, direct feedback

Feedback is an extremely important part of design, but it’s important that it’s structured. ProdPad provides a forum for that discussion, where specific team members can be invited to comment. And these comments can be added directly to different elements of a design file in order to make feedback even clearer. In recording all feedback in written form and in a centralised location, colleagues are encouraged to be constructive and designers can refer back to an entire library of information when looking to their next iterations.

Collaboration on ProdPad

@Mention colleagues to get their attention on any idea

Record every user story

Collaborating effectively on design is integral to ensuring your products are meeting the right user needs. But what about keeping your designers abreast of user requirements before they take to the drawing board?  Good user experience depends on a thorough understanding of customer behaviour that’s grounded in research and evidence – not simply Friday’s opinion. User personas, user stories, and even specific user feedback can all be documented in ProdPad and linked to ideas for designers to do their homework.

Capture what your Users are asking for

Capture what your Users are asking for

Catch up on how you can keep compliance and legal teams happy, or integrate a sales team into product management here. 

To find out more about working with design using ProdPad, sign up for a 14 day free trial here.

The post How to Incorporate Designers into Product Management appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

09
Jul 2014
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How Product Managers can Keep Compliance and Legal Happy

Product Management sits at the intersection of customer, technology and business. The product manager’s role is a continual balancing act between each of these areas, which means involving the right people, in the right ways, at the right times.

Compliance isn’t a concern for every product management team. But for manufacturers handling complex products in regulation-ridden markets, compliance and legal restrictions can be a major obstacle for new product releases. To avoid disruption, redesigns, and even product failure, product managers should look to consult compliance and legal teams as early as possible in the product validation process.

Open Communication

Good idea management requires communication input from many different sources. With departments like legal and compliance this might be irregular or limited to specific details, but the specialist information they hold could seal the fate of new product ideas. Using ProdPad you can extend collaboration to absolutely anyone in your organisation without having to integrate them as a fully fledged user. Tools like Google Single Sign-On and email integration mean that it’s easy to call on colleagues for advice whenever it’s relevant, using @mentions. Comments can be dropped directly onto idea canvases and design mockups, so that pertinent information to an idea is accessible to everyone in your team.

Impact vs Effort

Judging whether a new product idea is feasible is dependent on the big picture. Value brought to the business needs to be set against the effort or risk involved across the entire product process, not just development resources. Taking what you’ve learnt from conversations with compliance and legal, you can make an educated guess of anticipated effort to take a new product idea through to launch and set that against the business case and estimated value. ProdPad allows you to do this for every new idea using various scales including an adjusted Fibonacci scale, all of which is plotted on a visualized priorities chart.

Map Impact vs Effort for all of your ideas to weigh up risk and return

Map Impact vs Effort for all of your ideas to weigh up risk and return

Specs from every angle

Build product specs that take every factor into account. An important part of preparing requirements that are 100% ready for engineers and designers is to note any compliance concerns. Providing this information from the start will help you to avoid do-overs further down the line. ProdPad idea canvases provide a comprehensive template for the data your development team needs, including technical specifications. And with two-way integrations between ProdPad and project management tools, your developers can follow links to get all details of legal and compliant regulations shared directly by these teams.

Fully Audited Processes

Some regulations require that product processes are completely audited. When you manage all conversations, user feedback and design iterations in one centralized platform no details are lost, keeping your compliance and legal teams happy without any extra workload.

 

If you’d like to chat to us about how you can make product management processes more compliant using ProdPad, get in touch here

And if you’re new to ProdPad, you can sign up for a 14 day free trial here

The post How Product Managers can Keep Compliance and Legal Happy appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

03
Jul 2014
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Why JIRA Alone Can’t Help You To Do Better Product Management

One of the most common questions I explore with product managers is the difference between product management and project management. Your development team already uses JIRA, so where does a tool like ProdPad come in?

In fact not only can project and product management tools work together, but this partnership allows you use each system more effectively. ProdPad and JIRA are different in several fundamental ways that make them suited for their distinct product functions, while working together in perfect harmony.

Product Managers vs Developers

One way to understand the difference between ProdPad and JIRA is to look at who these tools are used by. Essentially, your developers will live in JIRA while everybody else in your company uses ProdPad. Product Managers require a tool that allows them to capture everything they could do from many different sources. However developers need visibility of every task that will be done, and to follow the operational progress of those tasks. Only tickets that are spec’ed and approved for development have a place in JIRA, the developer’s world. Integrations allow each team to benefit from the information held in each system without having to leave their own sphere of activity.


Only tickets that are spec’ed and approved for development have a place in JIRA - #prodmgmt
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Finite Tasks vs Fuzzy Backlog

So what qualifies JIRA for development tickets and ProdPad for product ideas? One advantage presents itself as soon as you separate finite, confirmed tasks and a fuzzy backlog. JIRA is designed for task management, and ProdPad for idea management – each of which has a very different working approach. There’s nothing more de-motivating for a developer than to find 500 tickets in their queue, knowing they can barely scratch the surface. JIRA is designed to see tasks through to completion; when you limit the number of tickets in JIRA to only these actionable tasks your development team can work confidently to clear them.

Nothing ‘fuzzy’ or undefined should make its way to JIRA, and anything that does should be sent right back to ProdPad. This is the holding place for everything you could do, that helps you decide whether your development team should build it. ProdPad has a low barrier to entry that allows you and your team to capture ideas at their earliest stage, and tools to help you easily review where details need to be fleshed out. There’s no harm in having 700 items in your ProdPad backlog, as with powerful search and filtering, nothing can ever be lost. Work in ProdPad is an ongoing process to surface the next viable ideas for your developers to build.

By keeping your undefined maybe’s in your ProdPad backlog, you’re keeping your development team happy and sane in their own day-to-day lives.

Tech-savvy vs open collaboration

The core design of ProdPad and JIRA makes them differently suited to different people in your team.

Evidently, developers work well with high-tech tools. And given that project management tasks should be ready for execution, there’s not a great need for collaborative features in JIRA itself. In fact, bringing a wider team (ie. your commercial or exec teams) into JIRA will likely only cause confusion and disruption for all parties. However, a product management tool needs to be much more open to company-wide communication. ProdPad has an accessible interface that’s easy for anyone on your team to understand, with collaborative tools throughout that allow you to spark up a conversation on just about anything. 

Systems Talking

A solid integration is of course key to ProdPad and JIRA working together seamlessly. Product Managers can control the synchronization of only ready-to-build ideas from ProdPad to JIRA with the click of a button. Links in each system allow developers to find out more detail when they wish to, without being inundated with unnecessary information. And status syncs between the two tools means that each team can find out everything they need to know from a single location. With the help of an effective technological relationship between ProdPad and JIRA, you can build a an effective relationship between product and project management.

 

You can read more about the ProdPad and JIRA integration here

Or if you’d like to see for yourself how ProdPad is designed for better product management, sign up for a 14 day free trial here

The post Why JIRA Alone Can’t Help You To Do Better Product Management appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

01
Jul 2014
POSTED BY Janna Bastow
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Video: UX for the Connected World of Things

A lot of effort goes into the mundane, boring things that no one really finds sexy, but when they don’t work, you find really annoying. This is particularly true in the growing world of IoT, affecting your everyday devices.

We’ve covered the topic of Internet of Things a couple times, and we’ve got a video from our archive that is worth sharing. At ProductTank November, Claire Rowland (@Clurr) talked about UX in the realm of IoT.

As Service Design Manager for Alert.me, a connected home platform provider and author of a book for O’Reilly on UX design for the Internet of Things, Claire talked us through her experience working on everyday devices and how UX plays a role at various levels. She covers UX in interactive design, industrial design, service design, etc. all the way down to the data layer, and describes how all of these parts work together to create connected devices that provide value to our day-to-day lives.

Watch the video to see Claire discuss how, as the technology matures, understanding how to create compelling and usable everyday products for mass market users will be crucial.

The post Video: UX for the Connected World of Things appeared first on MindTheProduct.

30
Jun 2014
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How to Involve Marketing in Product Planning

Product Management sits at the intersection of customer, technology and business. The product manager’s role is a continual balancing act between each of these areas, which means involving the right people, in the right ways, at the right times. In this post, we take you through how to involve marketing in product planning from idea to launch, using good processes and ProdPad tools.

Share customer insight

Your marketing team holds important customer insight that can be invaluable in understanding both particular product needs and the big picture of your target users.  Alongside the specific prospect feedback you collect from your sales team, your marketers – specifically any colleagues focused on customer or product marketing – have additional information to share from competitive research to customer interviews.

Add snippets of Customer Feedback that relates to the ideas in your backlog

Add snippets of Customer Feedback that relates to the ideas in your backlog

There are a number of ways in which ProdPad allows them to do so easily – from adding customer feedback and new ideas, to commenting on existing suggestions and even directly on user persona pages. Product Managers can call in marketing opinion at any time using @mentions, and marketers can follow ideas of interest to stay involved in their development.

Support the business case 

Once you’ve found a promising idea, there’s still more work to do before you can start to prioritize. Every idea canvas should have a validated business case to help you evaluate whether the new product or change will merit the resources required.  For certain product developments, marketing will be able to help form commercial objectives, such as awareness or new registration numbers. Accessible collaboration tools are key at this stage where defining – and ultimately delivering on – success criteria is dependent on the involvement of team members company-wide. 

Include a clear business case that answers two questions: What problem are you trying to solve, and what value would it provide to the company?

Include a clear business case that answers two questions: What problem are you trying to solve, and what value would it provide to the company?

Plan coordinated product launches

Although we don’t believe in fixing specific dates to your roadmap, communication is still key to coordinating product and commercial strategies. As your new products move closer and closer to implementation, the marketing team will have plenty of work to do from press to sales materials. When roadmapping you may wish to attach broad timeframes to ‘current’ and ‘near-term’ products and features so that your marketing team can start to plan out launches for these new releases. As ideas make their way into development, make sure that your marketing team is following their progress. With the help of systems integrations and email notifications, there are no unexpected surprises.

Bring consistency to product messaging

Finally, new and updated products can be supported with marketing-approved resources, all centralized in a single location – your ProdPad product pages. Materials can be uploaded so they can be accessed by your entire team, helping product managers to keep product management in one place, and marketing teams to rest assured only on-message content is being shared externally.

 

If you’d like to find out more about how marketers and product managers can work together using ProdPad, get in touch with us here

Catch up on how to involve your executive team in product management decisions here, and stay tuned next week for how ProdPad can help you to keep compliance and legal happy. 

The post How to Involve Marketing in Product Planning appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

27
Jun 2014
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How ProdPad Fits In: Staying on Top of New Implementations

When done right, product management is probably the business function that integrates with more people and processes than any other. So it’s essential that a product management system fits into this complex intersection between customers, colleagues and technology. And without too much disruption.

This week, we take you through how ProdPad fits in when tracking delivery of new product ideas all the way through to implementation.

Product specs 100% dev-ready

Product and development backlogs are often treated as one and the same thing. But these have different requirements and are usually handled by different teams. When lumped together, either potential ideas are discarded or development systems become overrun with half-formed suggestions – depending on which team wins out.

Product specs can be completed in ProdPad, and when ready, sent to your development tool to be built

Product specs can be completed in ProdPad, and when ready, sent to your development tool to be built

When using ProdPad for idea management, product managers can build up product specs that are 100% ready to be taken to developers, from business case to tech requirements. Integrations with project management tools mean that ideas ready for build can be pushed across with the click of a button, providing developers with links back to all data attached to the original product spec. By clearly delineating – while properly connecting – product and project management – every member of your team can do their job to the best possible degree.

Automatic progress updates

Be it a quick win for a specific customer or a new roadmap update, product managers often find themselves inundated with questions about product changes in progress. Keeping development tools for developers and directing the rest of your team to ProdPad for any product info they need is the best way to stay in control of new releases while keeping everyone in the loop. ProdPad automates updates each time a product passes to a new stage of development.

The status of your idea stays synced with your development tool

The status of your idea stays synced with your development tool

Whatever project management tool you use, two-way integrations with ProdPad allow you to sync implementation statuses everywhere. When combined with email notifications, no one has to worry about missing the latest product changes.

Customer feedback loop

It’s not just your team that needs to know when new products and features are delivered. Keeping customers up to date is equally important. Transparency for commercial teams is key to this process – sales, marketing and account management can all follow ProdPad ideas for any upcoming release and plan their own communications effectively. But if you use UserVoice, an integration with ProdPad allows you to automate that feedback loop to let customers know when their suggestions have been taken through to implementation. Capturing contact details alongside user feedback also enables you to more easily get in touch with the right people when their ideas have been actioned.

 

You can catch up on how ProdPad fits in when sharing ideas across your team, here.

Or to find out more about how ProdPad can help you to integrate product management across your entire organization, sign up for a 14 day free trial

The post How ProdPad Fits In: Staying on Top of New Implementations appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

25
Jun 2014
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How to Open Product Management to Your Sales Team

Product Management sits at the intersection of customer, technology and business. The product manager’s role is a continual balancing act between each of these areas, which means involving the right people, in the right ways, at the right times.

In this post, we take you through how to open up product management to a sales team in the right way, using good processes and ProdPad tools.

Source valuable feedback from the field

Your sales or business development people are your commercial ears on the ground – they have daily conversations with prospects about what would encourage them to buy. Ideas and suggestions often come thick and fast from sales teams, so it’s important to be able to validate the ones of real value. ProdPad distinguishes user feedback from the ideas list so that every valuable piece of information can be captured while reserving the product backlog for specific suggestions and ideas. Sales teams can use tools that fit into their own daily jobs to share those suggestions, from email to Google Chrome.

Customer Feedback in ProdPad

Gather customer feedback and connect it to ideas in your product backlog

Get commercial input to decisions

Collaboration doesn’t stop as soon as an idea is marked out as having potential. Defining user requirements and a business case for development can often rely heavily on the input of your commercial team. ProdPad’s in-tool communication allows your sales team to share comments on any idea canvas, and product managers can reach out for specific information directly through @mentions. A simple voting mechanism for idea canvases means that opinions for and against different features can be measured and business development teams can be assured their input is heard.

Voting Yea on an Idea in ProdPad

Get the entire team to weigh in on ideas by adding their vote.

Help keep prospects and customers in the loop

Your sales team is not only a mouthpiece for customer opinion, but can be an important link back to users and prospects to keep them informed about upcoming product changes. ProdPad roadmaps focus on current, near-team and future developments, allowing you and your sales team to give safe projections for what’s in the pipeline. Cards can be made public or private to prepare your sales team with a roadmap that’s appropriate to share externally via PNG or PDF exports or even a live site embed.

Individual salespeople can follow ideas to remain updated on feature progress all the way through to implementation. And when ProdPad is integrated with project management tools, these updates are completely automated, meaning your sales team need to do nothing more than await the latest email notifications.

A public roadmap on ProdPad

Create a public-facing version of your roadmap, and export it or embed it somewhere the sales team and their customers can see it

 

Catch up on how to involve executives in product management decisions here, and stay tuned for the next instalment where we take you through how to involve marketing in product planning.

If you’d like to see how ProdPad can help you to open up product management to Sales, you can sign up for a free 14 day trial here

The post How to Open Product Management to Your Sales Team appeared first on ProdPad :: Product Management Software.

20
Jun 2014
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