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Product Management

Customer Success, Product Management

Product Managers: Why You Should Include Customer Success Milestones In Your User Flows ft. @Wootric & @16v

As a Product Manager, you develop user flows to chart how customers move from signup to successfully using your SaaS product. Your colleagues in Customer Success are doing the same thing — mapping a flow of customer milestones to success.

But “success” can mean different things to PMs and CSMs. And, while both teams employ user flows (or customer journeys), what they put on them are very different, reflecting their very different goals.

You are responsible for making the product functionally work, with enough awesome UX so it’s relatively intuitive for the customer to use. For your team, “success” often means that the product works. It does what it says it will do, and does it well.

Customer Success is responsible for helping customers use the product to achieve their desired outcome. Most of the time, that desired outcome isn’t in the product – it’s outside of it. For example, if I purchase a budgeting app, my desired outcome is to save enough money to sun myself on a Caribbean beach, with a good-looking server to bring me fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. The Customer Success manager’s job is to get me there.

You might say it’s a conflict between focusing on the world inside the product and the wide, wide world outside of it.

And that conflict can bring about a deep divide between Product and Customer Success.

Yet, we’re all working towards the same goal: Creating a product people love, need and want more of.

What if you were to bring both user flows together, so the functionality inside the product meets the desired outcomes outside of the product?

Read More on Wootric


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Product Management

A Product Manager Communication Survival Guide (or how to tame information overload) ft. @johncutlefish

a-product-manager

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

It’s all you, baby.

Or, more accurately, it’s all on you.

The burden of communicating among teams, in between departments, and being the go-to get-it-done-guy/gal for CEOs and managers – it all tends to fall heavily on the Product Manager’s shoulders.

Product Managers are the linchpins of their organizations. The fillers of “the white space” – the processes and tasks that need to happen, but for which no one is specifically responsible.

Among their many, and varying responsibilities, Product Managers often orchestrate the exchange of ideas, conduct collaborative brainstorming sessions, and ensure that vital data reaches its destination, broken down into what we call Little Data, the understandable, actionable molecules. And they do it over and over and over again, rephrasing the same information fifty different ways, for fifty different people, all using it in different ways.

As PM, you’re the one building a shared understanding of what’s going on.

data-drive-kpi-tracking-product-manager

Roman Pichler’s diagram scratches the surface of the many responsibilities often assigned to PMs, but as John Cutler, prolific product management writer and consultant says:

“In a lot of organizations, you’re swimming in this diagram. You’re all over the place. Especially in a smaller organization, this diagram might be your brain.

The scary thing is that, depending on the company, you could add facilitating team problem solving, team decision-making, meeting with lead engineers and everyone else – you’re on the phone constantly, even with customers. Product is the connective glue. They literally fill the cracks of everything.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Product Management

“Data’s great, but I’m going with my gut”: How to Overcome Fear of Data ft. @UseNotion

howtoovercome-fear

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Let’s say your goal is to build team camaraderie, making them happier, more cohesive and all around better. You’ve tried putting beer in the office. You’ve tried banning beer from the office. You’ve tried a BYOB consumption structure. But you’re still not sure whether any of these measures have actually affected the productivity of your team. It’s enough to drive a manager to drink, I tell ya.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way you could know for sure which of these management processes was most effective? And no – this method doesn’t only apply to Madmen-meets-Craft-Brew day drinking.

Here’s the thing: There is a way to know for sure how effective your latest management policy is. And it’s not hard (we’ll tell you one really simple way to do it at the end). But first you have to overcome some obstacles. After all, all businesses can collect data – but far too many simply aren’t using a data driven framework to make management decisions.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Product Management

5 Steps for Product Managers to Ditch the Jargon and Communicate Better ft. @UseNotion

5stepsforproductmanagers

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“After conducting a heuristic review of this user story, we found several UX issues with the UI.”

You know what that means. I know what that means, mostly. But if anyone outside of our industry were to hear this sentence, they’d be very confused. Product managers and product owners have their own patois, dialect, lingo, parlance. But when it comes to communicating technical issues to non-technical users and colleagues, you’ve got to switch to a Lingua Franca that everyone understands.

Communication is messy, complicated, and hard, but it’s never optional. And jargon has its place. When you’re with your team speaking the same language, finding short-hand terms for complex issues, jargon is not only inevitable, it’s a real time saver. But it’s also often a wall that stands between you and getting your point across with outsiders.

And a failure to communicate effectively can have dire consequences.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Product Management

The Critical Steps to Aligning Product Managers and Customer Success ft. @UseNotion

thecriticalsteps

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Once it looks like product market “fit” has been reached, Product Managers may be quick to celebrate. Building and iterating a product until it hits this level of success takes considerable effort. Inevitably, Customer Success will provide feedback about gaps in functionality, issues with usability and obstacles in guaranteeing a stellar customer experience. While valuable information, this input can feel rather unwelcome.

Customer Success teams aren’t trying to rain on the parade, but it can sure seem that way. And this tense relationship between Product Managers and Customer Success can foster an environment of unproductive resentment that drags both teams down.

It’s a natural human reaction. The customer feedback reported by Customer Success can sound less like constructive criticism, and more like straight-up fault finding. Any suggestions offered may get automatically labeled impractical by frustrated Product Managers. Nobody wants someone standing behind them, continuously pointing out flaws in their work, especially when they’re already working hard to create a good product.

But Customer Success sees it differently – they just want to make sure the product delivers its promises to customers! And from their positions on the front lines of the customer experience, they feel like their feedback is invaluable (and they’re right). Imagine their frustration at getting labeled as “complainers” for sharing real customer feedback.

Ouch.

Both teams are doing their best to create products people will love – and both are having trouble effectively communicating with each other.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Product Management

Better Product Strategy Meetings in 5 Steps ft. @ProductPlan

product

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Ah, a free exchange of ideas. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Until you’ve got five stakeholders sitting in an enclosed space spitting out “Must Haves” like watermelon seeds in a county fair contest. Ideas are great, but a strategy everyone can agree on is better. How can you get from one extreme to the other?

Well, it’s a lot like this, but with fewer horses.

Successful product strategy meetings don’t happen by accident — they require planning and expert execution. So here’s a 5-step formula to help make your meetings run more smoothly and effectively, and round up those maverick cats.

Read More on ProductPlan


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Product Management

Make better products with your team’s input: using NPS-style internal polls ft. @UseNotion

make-better-products

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

You already know the value of net promoter scores (NPS) and feedback forms from customers. Their opinions drive the direction of your company, determine your product, and validate your product experiments (sometimes signaling the need for a change in direction).

And you undoubtedly also understand the vital importance of building a culture of innovation so that new ideas and solutions can come from anyone on the team. You’ve created this environment to capture the benefits reaped from so carefully selecting the brilliant people who make up your workforce.

Then, why don’t you tap into the resource of validating product experiments and company direction with internal NPS and team polls?

Your team knows more about the product than anyone else. They know more about the challenges, concerns, potential issues, and greatest achievements of the product and process – because they’re on the front lines. Not tapping into their insights leaves you vulnerable to mistakes and missed opportunities.

Which is crazy – since tapping into those insights is so easy.

Let’s look at some ways you can leverage those collective insights with team polls to make your company stronger, and help ensure it’s headed in the best of all possible directions. Regularly tracking your team’s sentiments over time can also give context to your business metrics and help you understand the success or obstacles of your company.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Product Management

Product Managers: Don’t just Build Products – Build Bridges ft. @MindTheProduct

product-managers-build-bridges

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

As product manager, your vision drives the heart of your company. You might be responsible for the product development roadmap, strategy and features, or even marketing, and competitive market analysis. Because you wear so many hats, you’re the best person in your B2B company to form bridges between departments usually kept separate, including: product development, sales, marketing, customer success and customer service.

Why would you want to take on more when you are already responsible for so much?

It might seem like a fool’s errand – it isn’t. When you bring these departments together by finding where your goals intersect, you’ll be able to make each department’s job a little easier and a lot more effective in driving retention and revenue. And, you’ll become one of the most valuable, and valued, people in your company. Here’s how.

Read More on Mind The Product


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Customer Development, Customer Success, Product Management, SaaS

Free E-Book by @NikkiElizDeMere: How to Align SaaS Content Marketing and Product Management

success

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

You’ve seen the studies – companies that retain customers grow bigger and faster than companies focused solely on customer acquisition. You can fill your funnel to the brim, but if your onboarding process acts like a leaky sieve, you’ll never have enough revenue to build and grow sustainably.

The good news? You have everything you need, right now, to create a sustainable system for acquiring and retaining your ideal customers.

It’s not a magic formula. It’s just two people: Your content marketer and your product manager. Working together.

We hear you. We understand every objection rattling off in your head about the crazy – COMPLETELY CRACKERS! – notion that content marketers could actually help your product development department:

  • Do better work, more efficiently
  • Be less distracted by support tickets
  • Align behind a single, shining vision of your ideal customer
  • Produce products, features, and updates that result in retention and growth
  • And have more fun

These are wild claims to be sure, so allow us to present you with a 3-part paper that will show you how your content creators and product developers can join forces to build the kind of business you’ve envisioned all along: A business with the right products, successful customers, and zero limits.

Read More on Inturact


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Product Management, UX

SaaS Customers Aren’t Lazy – They’re Busy ft. @LincolnMurphy

saas-customers-arent-lazy

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

An astute customer success agent recently asked me why I wanted them to make good on their 30-day money back guarantee. The answer I gave included the words: “I’ve come to peace with the fact that I’m lazy.” As in, I can’t be bothered to run through ten tutorials to get your product up and working. I was making a joke out of it, but the fact is, I told a boldfaced lie. I’m not lazy. I’m busy. And devoting 10 to 20 hours to learn how to do this thing that another software can deliver on a silver platter doesn’t make sense in the context of my life.

Your prospects and customers aren’t lazy.

They’re busy.

When you let that paradigm shift shine down through the ranks of everyone in your company, you will see lasting, positive results in terms of retention and lifetime value.

So let’s dig into this idea a little deeper, because paradigm shifts don’t happen in a paragraph.

“Often when we say customers are lazy, we’re really saying ‘our product is hard to use but that’s the customer’s fault,’ or something similar.”

—   Lincoln Murphy

If the feedback you get from your customer success agents, sales reps, and customer service department includes the word “lazy” – treat it as a red flag. Find out exactly where customers “get lazy,” because that’s likely where your user experience (UX) is failing. How kind of those busy customers to let you know!

Sounds fairly straightforward, right? But this runs counter to most of the advice for SaaS startups on the web. Typically, that advice sounds more like this:

“Most customers sign up, and then get too lazy to use your product or service. Offer them a 30-day money back guarantee if they give you another shot. Show them how to use your product the proper way.”

 —   Rishi Shah, Digioh

Whoa there! You just let your product development team off the hook when, very possibly, they should be looking at your onboarding process and UX more closely for ways to make the product more intuitive. Or, perhaps, you could offer a live chat feature that pops up for new customers, right at the point where you’ve noticed they tend to get confused (because you track these things, right?).

Where and when do new customers typically fall off? For most SaaS companies, churn happens after just one or two uses, which means the customer isn’t finding what they need, or they’re not finding what they need fast enough.

I don’t know about you, but my life is too short, and I am doing too much, to take hours out of my week to learn to use a new product.

Some might say this is because I’m a Millennial. As a member of the largest generation, the generation that is swiftly taking over the workforce and is increasingly responsible for the tides of the global economy (for better or worse), I have a “digital native’s” expectations for technology products. When I get frustrated with a product, I have the same reaction as this Millennial quoted in a recent Nielson Norman Group article:

“When one Millennial user was intimidated by the tech specs on a computer website, he said, ‘I want to go to the store or chat online. I want someone to explain this to me better.’”

The article continues with another salient point:

“We frequently see Millennial users getting stumped in usability testing when they encounter difficult user interfaces. Their interactions tend to be fast-paced. Because they spend less time on any given page, Millennials are more likely to make errors, and they read even less than the average user (which is already very little).”

Okay, okay, so we don’t read the instruction manual most of the time (do you? Does anyone?). Google and Apple’s slick interfaces spoiled us early-on, and studies have shown that Millennials expect that same level of simplicity from all interfaces – even the interfaces of programs that offer complex, high-powered features.

“When interfaces fail to live up to those unrealistic standards of simplicity, Millennials rarely blame themselves – unlike older users. Millennials are quick to criticize the interface, its organization, or its designers.”

When your product has so much to offer, it can be a tough pill to swallow when a customer won’t spend the time to learn how to use it. And maybe your target customer is a software engineer who will read the manual and revel in your tutorials. But, for most SaaS businesses, your users are busy – which makes your challenge this: What steps can you take to make using your product faster and easier so they can achieve the end results they want? Start with quick wins.


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.