How to Co-Create Digital Products with Customers

In this article I explain how to work with users to understand their needs, frustrations and aspirations, and integrate the learnings in the products you are working on.

What I’ve recently seen is that in the startup world there is real “data worship”.  Don’t listen to what customers have to say, just look at the data. Customers are always lying. The truth is that data can tell us many things that are happening in our products, like where our conversion funnels are breaking up, if a new feature is giving the predicted results, or if the call to action button should be red or green.

The thing that data analytics does not do is connect emotionaly with your users, and get to really understand their deep needs that are not being met by our products.

In this article I’ll go through some of the tactics I’ve used to better understand customers at Careershifters.

First, you MUST know who your customers are (and who they are not)

The worst error you can do is get the wrong customers to test your products.

Seriously, if you are testing video games, don’t bring bring a 40 year old mum to talk about that game, even if you saw she purchased it on the shop.

In Careershifters it would make no sense to get students who have not started their career, or are about to retire.

Hope you get the point, and make sure you don’t get into your offices the wrong profile because you did not find your “perfect customer”.

Find your Power User (your evangelist)

If you find your evangelist customer, you will have hit jackpot.  

Those users are so desperate to find a solution for their own personal problem they will not mind to pay for the product even if it sometimes breaks down.

Have an open and honest conversation

Having a call with your users is the best way to empathise with them.

Let them talk freely about their experience with the product, and just listen and look for patterns , and you will be having real “aha” moment as you see how many product blindspots start to emerge.

If done well, I’m sure you will have more than one moment when you think “how could I have missed THIS”!

Housekeeping Before and After the Interview

Some tips on how to organise your calls

  1. Review profile of customer: If the customer has used your product, check if you can get more detail to understand the person you will be talking to.
  2. Doing video helps: Words talk , but they miss facial expressions and feelings that could be expressed by your customers. If possible, do video.
  3. Record the call, and ask for consent: Make sure you record the call, but first ask for consent, and make sure you record again so the consent is captured in the recording
  4. Always make open questions: Starting with “Did you like the product” is always a BAD start for the interview.  Let the person interviewed talk and make sure they understand they can be open and say whatever comes to their mind.  Good questions could be “What part of the product worked for you?”, “What part of the product did not work?”
  5. Two people in the interview is better than one: One person will be engaging with the person interviewed, while the other will be taking notes and observing the interaction.
  6. Interview a minimum of 5 customers: After 5 customers are interviewed, you will start to see patterns and things that could be improved will start to emerge extremely clearly
  7. Review the interview at the end: If 2 people attend the interview, discuss about what each one got from the interview.  If you were doing the interview alone, hear the recording and get insights.
  8. Review previous interviews too: The goal is to get patterns.  If you don’t find them, hear previous interviews.

Make surveys before, during and after the product is used.

  • Before the user joins, get some basic information from him so you understand the basics from the person that is joining your service, and how did they engage with your product
  • During the time the user is engaged in your product, do your best to get their feedback from time to time.
  • Always ask why the customer is leaving your product.  This information will give you good understanding of what you are doing wrong, and how could the product be improved.

See how customers engage with your products

If you can, check how users use your products.

You could make an intense check of what your user does on his day to day. Another way could be to grant permission from the customer to track his behaviour by monitoring his computer or mobile while using your product.

The goal is to understand how customers engage with your products.

If you are lucky, you will be surprised with behaviours you could not have predicted.

Analyse results and prioritise features that solve the problem on your roadmap

If you follow the simple rules pointed out in this article, you WILL discover things to improve the customer experience.

It’s important to step back and get perspective to prioritise the most urgent features needed and put them at the top so they are developed first.

If possible, check the monetary impact of each feature, and put that first.  

Create features that you think will solve the problems found

Once you have the interviews done and dusted, you really need to sit down, prioritise, and then define the features that will solve the problems you found on the interviews.

On top of the feature, and even more important, is to define the hypothesis you have around how the feature will solve the problem.  On top of the hypothesis, you need to define how you will test and measure the hypothesis, and how you will know if the hypothesis was correct or wrong.

This is a good moment to switch to analytics, which will help you measure if the hypothesis is accurate.

Integrate the customer interviews in your funnel

If you don’t integrate customer interview in your funnel, you will not have the time to make it happen, there will always be other priorities.

Integrate this communication with customers in the funnel, and that will ensure you that the interview is done.

An example of this service comes from ZOOM.  When you join the service, they send an email inviting you to have a 1.2.1 call to ask questions you may have regarding the service.

Sometimes users don’t have the answer

Users will point things that are not working for them, or ideas they may have to improve the product. Feedback is great, and it helps us adapt our product.  

In many occasions the product that is needed cannot be seen by customers, and it’s your role to make it happen and then check with customers if your vision actually helps them.

Comments are closed.