More than ever, listening to customer needs and adopting a customer-centric approach is necessary for businesses. Listening to customers is not a one-time activity and there are multiple ways of capturing customers’ feedbacks along the development cycle.
Everything needs to start with the customer. What do we know about customers’ challenges? What did they report as a pain point? As for everything, we need to know where we are coming from to define where we are heading. There is no specific area to capture feedback. Feedback can come from everywhere: employees, customers themselves, leadership, and partners.
1) A first step could be to capture all the feedbacks in an ‘’ideas’’ backlog, organize them, and prioritize them.
2) A good practice is to put together a panel of users/customers who can be your go-to and who can be part of the development cycle by validating along the way. We call it ‘’customer advisory group’’. Such a group is an invaluable resource for development.
3) It is time to engage with your panel/advisory by sending them a survey with the main ideas or asking the challenges they are facing.
4) Metrics analysis should be done regularly in order to identify trends and customer pain points.
5) Heatmaps are also great to understand customers’ behaviors. Very often, there might be a discrepancy between what some think the problem is and what it is in reality. Heatmaps provide a quick way to analyze activity.
6) Eye-tracking tools help understand users’ interest in a page, what attracts their attention first, how they scan the page, and what should be put first.
Once the issues are identified, a solution can be put together. Designers and product managers come up with a new feature or an enhancement, but they should never be considered a replacement to customers. Their experience and expertise can be a bias. Going back to the advisory or to customers is important. During the conceptualization process, customers can be touched 3 times:
1) With a storyboard and a sketch of the concept to validate the good understanding of the issue and how to get it resolved.
2) A low fidelity prototype, showing customers the different steps of the new process.
3) A clickable or high-fidelity prototype, being the exact experience of what could be the end product.
During the prototype phase, customers can be addressed online via tools dedicated to user testing or offline via interviews that can also integrate a combination of online scenarios and a conversation. Each step allows a refinement of the concept and validation of the benefits of the development to come.
We should go back to customers even during the development cycle by presenting the advancements after each sprint. Doing so is also a way to make sure the product is going to get adoption once released. Too many products are not successful, not because they are not good, but because customers did not adopt them.
1) Mini User Adoption Testing (UAT) after each sprint cycle is a good practice.
2) At the end of the development cycle, comes the final UAT, which consists of an end-to-end test of the product following specific use cases and hence responding to specific scenarios and pain points.
Having the product released does not mean that we are done with the customers' feedback.
1) During the first months of life of the product, using a Feedback button is a good tool. It is also a way to drive more attention to the changes and show customers how the organization values their feedback.
2) It is also the time to go back to the metrics and analyze the impact of the new product. We should see the metrics moving in the right direction depending on the KPI that were defined for the project.
3) Let’s also not forget to never stop learning what customers need and how they interact with applications. Test and learn via A/B tests and multivariate testing should be an integral part of continuous development and making sure we optimize the tools to the highest.
It needs to start with customers and finish with customers. Adopting a customer-centric approach is the best way to make sure we are doing the right thing.