Listen to customers, but which one?

Lets go back to basics. Go back to your childhood, or your primary school years, go back as much as you can. There was one thing kept saying to you: listen to me while i talk. Whether it was your teacher or your parents or elder siblings. There were asking you to listen while they were talking.

Thinking of it now, i see it applies to product management very well. Listen / Observe your customers while they are using your product. But there is one more addition to it that i would like to make.

 

Listen to your internal stakeholders while they are working on the product.

 

What do i mean? You might say i listen to my team all the time, we have meetings, we come together for analysis, discussions etc. But do you really? Listening is not just about answering questions or giving someone the chance to explain themselves. Listening means, to me at least, also caring. Meaning, you opened a task and it is crystal clear, do you know if the implementer of the task has any comments regarding to that task? How should you know if they dont ask, right? Yeah, do you give the freedom to them to ask you? Think about it. They should feel okay to ask questions, they should know that you listen and give a proper answer to their questions.

Another thing is, especially for startups, there aren’t a good communication between other teams. When organisations start to have multiple departments (>3), a delay in communication happens. A product manager’s job is to make sure the knowledge is shared and well known throughout the organisation. It can be processes that needs to be documented, it can be meeting notes to be shared or a discussion board where everyone can follow what is happening. Of course, it is not responsibility to make sure everyone is on the same boat, but you need to make sure everyone has the same information while working on a product ┬áthat will be released. Everyones expectation from the output might be different, but in order to create their expectations, they need to have the same input as everyone. Nobody should think differently when it comes to forming baseline. Don’t get me wrong, i am not killing creativity here. But if it is a must that the application has to show a pop up and it is a requirement and otherwise it cant be released, nobody should come up with ideas that will kill the popup.

 

As a product manager, at the very beginning, your most valued customers are, your internal ones.

 

I believe a team that communicates, can solve any problem, ship fast solutions, finish products that they all know what it is about. Internal communication is what keeps teams and businesses healthy.

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