Published on 2023-03-10
Prioritising Customer Problems
Moving away from the feature factory mentality
As a Product Manager, I often see some product managers get trapped in the feature factory mentality. Where you get into the practice of just prioritising and delivering features and not really thinking about the customer’s problems. Sometimes this is forced on them because that's how the organisation works. By adding more and more features to the product, people think that this will make it more attractive to customers. However this approach often leads to bloated, confusing products that fail to solve the customer's problem.
Instead of focusing on features, you should concentrate on the customer's problem and how to solve it. By understanding the customer's problem, you can create a product that truly addresses their needs, which is far more compelling than a product with a long list of features.
To do this, you need to start by discussing objectives and customer problems with their stakeholders. By doing this, they can ensure that everyone is aligned on the customer's needs and the problem that the product needs to solve. This approach will help keep the team focused on the customer and their needs, rather than getting bogged down in discussions about specific features. Discussing problems to solve and objectives will help with the prioritisation discussions with your stakeholders.
As a Product Manager you don't own the product. You own the customer’s problem. The UX & Design and Engineering team own the Product. That mindset helps with always talking about the problems and how we are going to solve them rather than a list of features. Moreover, by focusing on the customer's problem, product managers can also help with the sales and marketing of their product. When you can clearly articulate the problem that your product solves, it becomes easier to create compelling marketing messages and sales pitches. You can highlight the ways in which your product is unique and different from competitors because it is designed to solve a specific problem.
Here are some steps you can use to become more customer problem centric and move away from the feature factory mentality:
- Understand the customer’s problem - This can be done by talking to your customers, collecting feedback, User Research and data analysis.
- Have clear objectives defined - Typically you’ll have your organisations yearly and quarterly objectives defined with your senior management team.
- Prioritise Problems to solve against the objectives - When prioritising problems to solve ask the question is this going to take me towards our objective?
In conclusion, product managers should move away from the feature factory mentality and focus on understanding the customer's problem and solving it. By doing this, they can create a product that truly addresses their needs, which is far more compelling than a product with a long list of features. You should discuss objectives and customer problems with their stakeholders and not get bogged down in discussions about specific features. By becoming customer problem-centric, you can help with the sales and marketing of the product and create a product that truly solves the customer's problem.