Listening: 10-seconds to learn, a lifetime to master.
You've probably figured out that your customers are a unique bunch. They may behave in ways that seem totally irrational but, in the end, they're your customers and you're locked in a symbiotic relationship that requires attention and care. The great thing about digital products is that your customers leave behind all sorts of information about how they use them. It just takes a skilled researcher and analyst to determine the ever-changing needs of your customers.
Step #1: Knowing what to listen for.
You can't be expected to know what to listen for until you find out what's important to your customers and your organization. So, before you can start building customer feedback into your design process, you may need to determine what you should be listening for, though some research, analysis and synthesis:
Divining-rod-research: Many of the popular metrics used to gauge the sentiment of customers fall short when used beyond vanity. Many large consulting firms attempt to attach dollar figures to fluctuating satisfaction or loyalty scores to justify large-scale change. Hostile Sheep is able to get a lot of value from research channels such as NPS and CSAT surveys. We just use the information differently; to direct us toward what we should be listening for. This research is especially valuable when creating hypotheses and determining how to approach ongoing product experimentation. Hostile Sheep is great at turning your existing research into a go-forward report with concrete recommendations.
Hypotheses & test plans: I'm not sure when guessing became a negative thing in business. It may have occurred when people started acting on guesses alone. If that's the case, it's the misinformed action that's the problem; not the guess. At Hostile Sheep we encourage our clients to speculate about what the data and research is telling us. In fact, these hypotheses are critical to developing measurement and test plans. Hostile Sheep has refined a process for using a shared document to collect product hypotheses asynchronously and through a series of workshops.
Step #2: Hearing the signal through the noise.
There's a lot to listen to. In fact, no one :
Asking what matters: Most organizations send out some kind of customer feedback survey but few are asking the right questions. Establishing effective customer feedback loops requires dynamic customer feedback that can change and evolve as the product and organization does. Hostile Sheep can show you how to begin & we'll be here to help you understand how this process evolves with your product.
Testing what matters: While A/B and multivariate testing is becoming more common, ongoing product testing (in general) is not well adopted across the industry. Hostile Sheep believes this is a symptom of poor product management principles being established. When continuous improvement processes are in place, testing is assumed and optimizing based on the results are expected. With the right toolset and methodologies, any organization can launch "fuzzy" features that can be used by real customers and can be clarified through testing and co-creation.
Designing what matters: When it comes to customer feedback, there are two feedback loops we pay attention to: the (Bain) inner loop and outer loop. The inner loop examines how the product can change to better meet the customer needs. The outer loop explores how the organization can change to better meet customer needs. In either case, Hostile Sheep has developed skills in co-designing products and improving organizational processes/policies with customers. This may be the last part of addressing customer feedback, it may also be the most important - if the product isn't changed in the right way, it could have a negative impact on the customer experience.
Not exactly what you're looking for?
We move our clients through discovery and definition phases of product design projects. Hostile Sheep has tackled almost every aspect of product design from conducting primary research to uncover needs, to co-creating alpha/design rapid-prototypes that can be tested with real customers and can inform downstream development teams. Read more on our home page.