Phy-gital Roundtable: Breakfast Roundup from Germany and Netherlands

02 May '15 | Debjyoti Paul

German Shoppers: Meet Them in the Fast Lane to Phy-gital

15 January '15 | Ralf Reich

Shoppers Will Share Personal Information (But They Don’t Want to be “Friends”)

15 January '15 | Anil Venkat

Modernize or Perish: Property and Casualty Insurers and IT Solutions

14 January '15 | Manesh Rajendran

Benelux Reaches the Phy-gital Tipping Point: Omnichannel Readiness is Crucial

13 January '15 | Anil Gandharve

The New Omnichannel Dynamic: Finding Core Principles Across Industries

13 January '15 | Debjyoti Paul

Technology does not disrupt business – CIO day 2014 Roundup

02 December '14 | Anshuman Singh

Apple Pay – The Best Is Yet To Come

02 December '14 | Indy Sawhney

Digital transformation is a business transformation enabled by technology

01 December '14 | Amit Varma

3 Stages of FATCA Testing and Quality Assurance

06 October '14 | Raman Suprajarama

3 Reasons why Apple Pay could dominate the payments space

18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

Beacon of Hope: Serving Growth and Customer Satisfaction

05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

What You Sold Us On – eCommerce Award Finalist Selections

17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

04 June '14 | Koushik Ramani

8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

13 January '14 | Ramesh Hosahalli

What does a mobile user want?

03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

Are product managers engaging enough with the end-customers?

Posted on: 05 June '12

A few months ago, I had a very animated discussion with a few product managers and analysts at a seminar. There is no denying the fact that customers are the focal point in the SaaS business and there was unison on this fact, but that’s where the consensus ended! There were extreme positions taken in terms of what and how Product Management has changed and what they should be doing in the SaaS world.

Has it really changed? Some wanted to bring pricing into the Product Management bucket, while some argued that product pricing is really not a product manager’s job. They provide inputs based on which the pricing is calculated, but their inputs are not final. While few wanted to engage social media to track customers and their feedback, there were some who said that it was overhyped!

In today’s connected and so-called social world, product managers need to be more involved and engaged with the customer. Customers are the best marketing channel anyone can have, and word of mouth has found a new meaning in social media today. So why not use it for one’s own benefit? Customers can be engaged in multiple ways – the easiest being a periodic customer council or a conference, an event where customers come together and product managers get the forum that they always wanted. But it is expensive and most of the time, not inclusive!

Instead, it would be a better option for product managers to take the additional role of a Community Manager, create a community of their customers and representatives. This will encourage customers to use the community to debate, raise feature requests and vote on feature prioritization, etc. While it provides an intuitive way for a customer to participate, it also provides flexibility on how and when they would like to engage. It will also provide a very powerful platform for customers to collaborate and help each other. After all, they use the product and know it better than the Product Management team and the support teams put together! They can be the encyclopedia of the product, creating avenues to identify the enhancements and additional features and help you debug and create more values than one can imagine!

So where does it leave product managers? It is the product managers, who have to manage the community, identify and moderate the fruitful discussions. They have to keep an eye on feature enhancements or feature requests or even usefulness of a feature. With their extensive knowledge of the market and the domain, they have to seed the discussion, associate it quickly and help create or change the product roadmap based on the inputs from the community. They can even identify the premium options so that it adds to the top line of the organization.

There are different terminologies used for a product manager today – Community Managers, Innovation Managers, Product Strategy Managers, etc. But all put together, they are product managers and they own the product, and these are the new roles that product managers have to play in today’s fast changing world.

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  • Debjani Chatterjee

    Co-creation/co-innovation with the Expert Outsiders who are essentially our customers outside the company’s firewall have immensely benefitted both services and product companies. Greatest examples of product companies who are constantly innovating with the consumers are P&G, Lo’real, Adidas etc, the auto-makers also play a predominant roles in letting the customer submit design features for car interiors, examples-BMW, Audi, Volkswagen etc. In a fast moving consumer world, not only should product managers co-create bespoke models/designs/contents with the end user, but also work with customers to help them overcome their rants to fix product satisfaction issues!

  • Thanks Debjani…

  • Kumar

    Interesting point you raise. it need not be a social media to track feedback. it can be tracked by separate website designed for company’s all product and a link can be provide with every product to this page. for example when i use a banking website if i have a link to provide my feedback to the developer website, i can put my experience directly as a end-user not as a client. this feedback can be shared between both client and developer.

  • Sandipan Bhattacharta

    Exellent way to go ahead .