* This article is part of a book called “How a Product Manager Can Keep Customers Happy when Releasing a Major Product Update”
The road to churn is paved with idiocy and tales of incomprehension. Having driven on it, let me tell you that it makes the potholes in central Detroit look like lilly pads. Product managers can repave this road and regain user loyalty by following the ten points of enlightenment spelled on here. Think Descartes, Locke and Bacon — if they were captains of the industry, instead of philosophers. These articles of enlightenment can be applied when a new product, update or feature are released. Sound bombastic enough? Let’s take a closer look.
1. Learn from End-Users
Like Descartes’ constant search for perfect wisdom, there are learning opportunities around us at all times. Software vendor Primavera thoroughly studied their end users. Their users rewarded them by elevating their project management software to the top of the market place. The company grew to such an extent that Oracle decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, and bought it. Success.
2. Translate User Feedback into Product Specifications
E-commerce site Shop Direct found out from usability studies that their customers found it annoying to have to specify a payment option each time they purchased something on the site. The advances in human thought that come from usability studies! With this ingenius insight, the product management team at Shop Direct put together a checkout optimization project to solve this problem.
3. Test Those User Interfaces
Product managers are not the end-users and cannot decide in their place. Instead they must run user interface tests for representative feedback, including country-specific issues where appropriate. Bupa, the private health insurance company, ran tests around the world to make sure its UK-based labs got the input they needed to make better company software.
4. Always Map Features into Clear Benefits
Mobile app development companies that make successful phone apps know how critical feature mapping is. The mobile apps that gain widespread acceptance are typically those that offer just one or two key, very useful functions to users. It is as simple as human nature according to Locke who believed that simplicity was one of the keys to personal happiness. One of the most popular apps of all, the flashlight app (which does exactly what its name indicates) bears witness.
5. Make Signup and Installation as Easy as Possible
If users are blocked at the first hurdle, any further discussion of usability is pointless. Google understood this from the beginning. Its home page has just its logo and a search field. No more – and no less. Locke argued that we as humans are blank slates that we fill with our own thoughts ideas and emotions. In an already crowded mind why fight for more real estate with overly complex ideas and technologies.
6. Release Good Features Earlier
While quality is always important, a time-to-market advantage can be gained by releasing good features now instead of later. If they are not quite as polished as you want, a good online help or support system can still have users raving about them. John Deere, the agricultural equipment company, used an agile software development approach to do just that and bring new functionality to its employees in 2-4 weeks, instead of 12-18 months.
This is a close resembalence to the unfinished Utopian novel “New Atlantis” by Francis Bacon. The technological advancements achieved by the Bensalemites mirrors our own. Only with proper testing and careful consideration can we work with speed.
7. Provide Onscreen Contextual Guidance
Users with questions about using software want answers now. They want mini-guided tours to get results immediately. It is a reality of the enlightenment ideal of human exceptionalism. We think therefore we are, and if we all are we are all important and our individual needs and wants matter.
A software solution like WalkMe lets a vendor or corporate IT department put that valuable help information in just the right places for user satisfaction and product take-up.
8. Easy Error Recovery
Mistakes will happen. But that is no reason to abandon users to their fate.
SaaS data storage and backup solution providers like Box are increasingly implementing new versions to keep prior copies of files. If users lose or damage the latest copy, there are always more available from which to start again without errors.
As Locke famously said “It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of truth.”
9. Easy to Start, Stop and Start Using Again
Users may not use a product every day, but still need to be hyper-productive when they do use it. MailChimp, the online emailing solution, offers an interface that is simple, attractive and intuitive. There are clear calls to action to help users speed towards the results they want and helpful animated pointers to show them the way.
Put your users in control of their own destiny while providing them with the message best suited to their needs.
10. A Support Team that is on the Mark!
Smart use of contextual help can immediately solve over 90 percent of all queries. The other 10 percent may need a more personal touch. Cloud software vendor FileCloud has produced eminently usable software, yet also gets rave reviews for the enthusiasm and competence of its support team.
The rise of New Science during the Enlightenment undermined ancient thought and ideas. Our new technology is doing the same. If we follow along and learn carefully, we’ll be able to conquer many, if not all, business challenges.
This article is part of a White Paper called “How a Product Manager Can Keep Customers Happy when Releasing a Major Product Update.”
The book covers a range of topics, including:
Chapter 1: 7 Mistakes Product Managers Make that Cause Customers to
Chapter 2: 10 Data-Backed Product Tips that Will Skyrocket User
Chapter 3: 4 Tools Product Managers Must Use to Heighten Customer
Chapter 4: Summary: A Product Manager’s Checklist to Balancing UX with