Inside Out

Notes on seeking wisdom and crafting software

A what and a why for product strategy

Table of contents

What do customers want?

Some of my entrepreneur friends say they chant that three times every morning.

When I asked this question, my customers tell me they want my super awesome product to support parallel file copy. So I added the support for copying files in parallel, few customers were super happy; but then few were not. Then came the ask, why doesn’t the tool cache the files locally. I went ahead and built that feature in too. The customer sentiment became positive and then again few of the customers were happy.

Before we think through that, let’s look at another way to reach the same situation :)

I am new to the market, also a bit late, and my super awesome product needs to earn customer share. I look at the other competing products in the market. All of them support parallel file copy. “Ah, that must be the key feature to win the market”, I think. I prioritize that feature ahead of everything else. And we know how the story ends for most of the cases. I also end up building a local file cache because witty competitor product did that :(

Why do customers want that?

Be very careful when your customer tells you what to build.

In all the above scenarios, I assumed (and in one case backed by customer votes) that parallel file copy is the next feature. What I missed: what’s the next thing customer is going to do with that feature? How does the feature enable the customer?

I should have asked why does the customer want that feature. This question leads to an interesting line of thought.

Why is the customer asking for a parallel file copy? And why would they ask for local file cache next? Is my super awesome product too slow in doing some operation that required file copy? Is file copy a must? What can I do to get rid of that?

Listen to the customer. With absolute mindfulness, by all means. Just filter the parts where they recommend the solution or the implementation :)

When creating a strategy for the product, along with competitor study and the focus on earning customer share, it’s a good idea to ask a few whys for the new functionalities that seem like the roadway to win over customers.