The Product Manager as Detective
Recently, we’ve considered the many ways company resources can help you get a clear picture of your challenges as a product manager. This week, we’ll look at two more resources: internal customer data sources and defect reports.
Understanding What Your Company Knows About Its Customers
If your company is like most, it is overflowing with customer information. Unfortunately, very little of that information is held in a single repository. Locating this customer information may take some digging, but it’s well worth the effort.
Product Managers Look to Customer Service and Marketing for Help
Customer service probably keeps a database of incoming customer support calls. This record will show what was discussed and the current status of the request. In addition, customer service may be managing online client discussion groups. Participating in these groups or reading discussion summaries, gives you great client feedback on your company and its products.
Marketing can also provide useful information gathered through work in lead generation, trade shows, and customer conferences. Talk to both the marketing and customer service teams. You’ll gain real insights into what your company knows about its customers.
The Value of Defect Reports to the Product Manager
Imbedded design flaws or defects are one of the challenges technology companies regularly face. Many of these defects are identified during the quality control phase. However, some make it through undetected and into customers’ hands. When customers encounter defects they will report them to the sales team, customer service, or some other department. Ultimately, these defect reports will be forwarded to the engineering team. When the engineering team confirms the defect, it is assigned a priority rating like these:
Critical issue – Defect has a major negative impact on your product’s performance. Immediate action needed.
High priority – The defect is preventing effective use of the product.
Medium priority – The defect makes it difficult to use the product, but there are work-arounds available.
Low priority – The defect only cause minor inconvenience to the user of your product.
Verified defects are typically shared in defect reports to the product team. The team then determines which problems should be fixed and when. Talk to the engineering department about getting copies of these reports. If you are just starting your product manager job, these defect reports will not be an immediate priority. However, don’t forget to check out these reports in the future. They will give you a glimpse into your engineering team’s efficiency and their process for resolving quality issues. They’ll also reveal who ultimately is authorizing resources to fix defects. Once product managers are fully up to speed and acclimated to duties, they will likely be involved in making these decisions.
Watch for my next post. I’ll discuss the value of product profit and loss information and current product management-related materials.