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Product Management: An Art Backed By Science

Product Management: An Art Backed By Science

The author of Inspired : How to Create Products Customers Love, Marty Cagan says,

“Product managers must know how to discover a product that’s usable, feasible and valuable. It means that the product managers should be well-versed in 3 major spheres –

  • Business
  • User Experience
  • Technology 

With ever changing customer needs amongst highly diversified groups of customers, managing customer input as a product manager is imperative.

Influence of Customer Input on Building Products 

In the early 2000s, when Steve Blank came up with an intellectual idea for Product Managers, in his book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, he explained the customer development model in a scientific way. This model motivated the product managers –

  • To challenge product ideas
  • To market before investing
  • To learn about their customer persona

His concept created a learning hypothesis to learn about the market and the appetite of the new product.

As per PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey, 94% regard customer’s input, data, and preferences as very important.

That’s how Product managers win the game with a solid approach to managing customer input. Valid customer input brings clarity, progress, innovation and profitable business outcomes, thus making it a crucial part of the product development cycle to achieve the right product. Customer inputs are important for testing the outcomes from the beginning till the end to improvise the odds of success. You can ask your customers –

  • What problems are they expecting the product to resolve?
  • How do they estimate the success of a brand?
  • What type of a product personality are they looking forward to?

Product management is an art backed up by science. The scientific side covers all the processes like systematic research, testing, analysis, evaluation, measurement, etc. While the artistic side is about creative expression, human interaction, imagination, visual designs, plucky inventiveness and so much more.

How Product Managers Collect Customer Inputs

Gathering customer inputs means investing in the long-term sustainability of your business. 

Customer Surveys 

What segments to target, which sales plan would be effective, what sort of product/service would delight them. All these questions are a part of customer surveys. Given below are the ways in which you get proper feedback from your customers –


Paper or electronic, it depends on your business. Ask the right questions to get actionable data. The questionnaire should not be excessively long, as it might impact the response rate.


Whether face to face, virtual, or a phone call, make sure interviews for customer inputs are designed intellectually with a little bit of fun in it. Don’t intrude on the customer’s privacy. 

Customer Perception 

Studying competition groups, comparing existing customer feedbacks and conducting market research comprises multitude aspects – 

Customer Personas

Building fictional characters for the representation of user types who have interest in the future product. It’s the ideal portrait of your targeted customer. Age, gender, average income, education level, spending habits, life goals, etc falls under the user personas.

Identifying customer’s calls 

This step is about getting in touch with the principle needs of the customers i.e Price, Quality, Choice and Convenience.

Analyzing customer’s behavior

Understanding customer’s psychology, motives, buying patterns, online vs offline preferences, etc. falls under this. 

With all the above steps, a product manager gets a plot to initiate a strategy for a strong product plan.

Customer Insights 

Neil Patel says “You can’t just place a few “Buy” buttons on your website and expect your visitors to buy.” 

An excellent way to gain customer insights is by –

    1. Natural Observance 

  • Observe how they act on buying your products/services.
  • How swiftly do they set their choices?
  • What’s the analysis that they perform?
  • Or do they ask too many questions?

Research & analysis can be done to track online customer behavior.

    2. Experiments

One of the most reliable methods to know customer insights is by trial and error method. It separates the uncertainty of failure as you’ve already performed in-depth research and analysis for the market trends.

    3. Be Pervasive 

Communicate with your customers via emails, TV commercials, social media, and billboards. Social media channels like twitter, linkedin, instagram, whatsapp, snapchat are great ways to testify the interests of your customers. A report by Mckinsey affirms that social media has become the key differentiator for customer inputs.

   4. Conjoint Analysis 

Survey customers about their needs. Question them on which option they’ve chosen and why. Ask plenty of questions in various sequences. See what goes behind their mindset. Data gathered can be grouped to segment the customer orientation. 

   5. Empathy Interviews 

It’s about starting a more relaxed conversation with the customers to break down reluctance and uncertainty. 

Did we add a little bit of value to your knowledge with this piece? If yes, do let us know in the comments section.