Skip to main content

Two Approaches

Back in November, Seth Godin wrote about a frustrating experience almost all of us have shared. You call customer service, navigate a long sequence of touch-tone prompts, only to be informed that the office is closed. In Godin's case, he endured nine prompts.

If a typical product manager or business analyst presided over the development of this telephone navigation system, I can imagine how it went.

"Let me talk to your subject matter experts (SMEs)."

"What are the departments a customer might need to contact?"

"Let's draw a chart showing the different paths through the phone system."

Contrast this approach with the following focus on real requirements. The product manager or business analyst converses with customers and customer support to understand the problems that they are trying to solve and avoid by calling support. The problems don't just include the reason they call support in the first place. They also include potential problems with support itself.

Among the problems that customers want to avoid are:
  1. Spending a long time to resolve an issue.
  2. Expending a lot of energy (by pressing a lot of buttons or having to talk a lot).
Armed with knowledge of true customer challenges, the product manager or business analyst formulates metrics corresponding to these problems:
  • It shall take an average of no more than X seconds for a customer to resolve issue Y.
  • Outside of support hours, it shall take no more than X gestures (button presses, voice commands, etc.) for a customer to be informed that the office is closed.
These metrics are off the top of my head and no doubt could use some refinement. But the point is that the frustrating customer experience Godin described is a result of a requirements failure, a failure to understand and formulate in measurable terms the problems the customer wishes to solve and avoid.

Comments

Craig Brown said…
Good point.

Another performance imension would be completeness of the transaction.

Many many mny customer calls end up with a customer hving to call back to try to get the issue resolved a second time.

Rework numbers I have encounterred usually start in the 30-40% range (sometimes more) when companies start measuring it.
Unknown said…
Thank heavens for my (UK) bank, www.firstdirect.com. Always pick up the phone after 1-2 rings. They constantly score high in user ratings even though their website is just about average.

(don't work there just thrilled when a CRM strategy really works)

Popular posts from this blog

Why Spreadsheets Suck for Prioritizing

The Goal As a company executive, you want confidence that your product team (which includes all the people, from all departments, responsible for product success) has a sound basis for deciding which items are on the product roadmap. You also want confidence the team is prioritizing the items in a smart way. What Should We Prioritize? The items the team prioritizes could be features, user stories, epics, market problems, themes, or experiments. Melissa Perri  makes an excellent case for a " problem roadmap ", and, in general, I recommend focusing on the latter types of items. However, the topic of what types of items you should prioritize - and in what situations - is interesting and important but beyond the scope of this blog entry. A Sad but Familiar Story If there is significant controversy about priorities, then almost inevitably, a product manager or other member of the team decides to put together The Spreadsheet. I've done it. Some of the mos

Stop Validating and Start Falsifying

The product management and startup worlds are buzzing about the importance of "validation". In this entry, I'll explain how this idea originated and why it's leading organizations astray. Why Validate? In lean startup circles, you constantly hear about "validated learning" and "validating" product ideas: The assumption is that you have a great product idea and seek validation from customers before expending vast resources to build and bring it to market. Indeed, it makes sense to transcend conventional approaches to making product decisions . Intuition, sales anecdotes, feature requests from customers, backward industry thinking, and spreadsheets don't form the basis for sound product decisions. Incorporating lean startup concepts , and a more scientific approach to learning markets, is undoubtedly a sounder approach. Moreover, in larger organizations, sometimes further in the product life-cycle, everyone seems to have an opinio

What Product Managers Can Learn from the Apple iPod

The Story When Apple unveiled its iPod digital music player back in October 2001, I dismissed it as a  parity product . I already owned the Cowon iAUDIO CW100 MP3 player, loaded with my favorite tunes. There was Apple, generating great hype over the iPod as if it were a breakthrough product. The idea of a portable digital music player was nothing new. The first mass-produced MP3 players came out in 1998. In late 2001, the concept may have been new to a lot of Apple customers, but it wasn't new to me. I proudly showed my MP3 player to friends when they gushed about the iPod. Thus Apple's iPod was not an innovative product in and of itself. Years later, however, I realized the significance of ecosystem of which the iPod was a part. Apple had released iTunes (with technology purchased from  SoundJam MP ) and created the iTunes Store for finding and downloading music. Unlike Napster , it was a safe and legal way of distributing and acquiring music. The prior way of playing