Areas of Strength
Product strength in the marketplace means that you are doing well at understanding your competition and are strong about determining where to focus. Sustaining that position of strength is dependent on staying relevant. You’re likely a well-oiled machine on making continuous product improvement. The Product Power Core uses clear operational metrics to track and deliver on, which is the good news.
The flip side of that coin is that they may or may not have anything to do with customers. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here that you are also a strong “listening” company, using customer feedback to constantly tweak and improve the products you create. That means that you should have your finger on the pulse of customer needs.
Customer Vulnerability and Hot Spots
In a product power core company, the vulnerability comes from the soft side of the experience equation.
This is not the development of the tangible product. You’ve got that down. The hot spot is the experience wrapped around getting the product into customers’ hands and serving them after the purchase. There’s a real risk for a product power core company to deliver a defaulted customer experience, which happens when people don’t plan the handoffs and the experience is random, dependent on the path the customer cut across your organization. The handoffs between departments are tricky, and it’s easy to see how the customer experience can fall between the cracks.
Getting your field up to speed on the knowledge and understanding for how they support the product can be a challenge. It’s just not second nature. You may also find it tough to do the process work for setting up and maintaining service levels that are customer focused. So metrics around those competencies are probably spotty at best and vary wildly dependent on the leader of the particular operating areas.
You need to introduce the customer language into the product development language, so next move on to bringing the “guerrilla metrics” into play.
The company needs a strong senior advocate to move this work forward in a product-oriented environment, so before you go further here; get the absolute agreement for doing this customer-centered work. One thing that works for me is to have a person from the product operating area be part of my team in the development of the tactics moving forward. The most important thing is sharing the reins of the customer leadership agenda with the product area. Forging a partnership with them and acknowledging the power they wield in driving the customer to the company is critical. Keep working on the approach. Don’t develop solutions on your own and then try to get them to sanction it or bless it. That won’t work.
Kick Start for Integrating the Customer into the Product Power Core
1. Focus on product development based on customer priorities.
2. Establish a customer feedback system.
3. Create initial performance standards.
4. Institute tracking and reporting.
5. Introduce guerrilla metrics.