Product Managers, you have a tough job. You have to prioritize a huge list of enhancement and new product requests from customers, senior management, sales, development all while keeping an eye on the competition and market trends. Prioritizing your list is often the easy part, you also need to make sure that the products are well designed and meet sales expectations.
A customer community can be a huge asset to product managers. It can help you better prioritize by understanding the underlying problems that lead to enhancement requests in the first place. It can provide you with supporting user stories that make the business case less abstract. You can also poll the community to get direct feedback. There are caveats to polls, but creating one in your community is quick, easy and doesn’t require a big coordinated effort with marketing to get a survey out to the customer list.
Where a customer community can provide you with even more value is by helping you get into the heads of your customers. This kind of nuanced feedback can help you better understand customer personas and therefore make better design choices. For example, should a cordless drill show numbers for the torque settings or should it show pictures of the kind of screw or drill bit being used? Should your software have a simple intuitive UI or provide users with lots of granular controls? Beyond product functionality, insights from your community can also help you choose a better pricing model, find the right tone and vocabulary for your marketing copy and maybe even help with go-to-market.
Lastly, the community is a great place to vet and recruit beta customers who can provide valuable feedback and then work with product marketing to provide testimonials and use cases in time for launch.
Customer communities aren’t just about reducing customer support costs, they are an invaluable resource for product managers and all stakeholders looking for a closer relationship with customers.