Following the Customer’s Lead

Jean-Benoit Malzac

Head of Product at Ava



One of the challenges of being in a start-up’s project team is actually to make sure that you are user-centered and that you are actually developing a product for the user that brings value. There are only a finite number of ways to do this. Usually, into my own magic potion, I put a lot of product intuition, which is not very tangible.

You also have direction from the company giving some overarching shape to your strategy. You’ve got your users, the way that they’re using the app and any feedback that they happen to be providing. What is the best way to put it all together?

Actions taken

I started looking into the support tickets so that I would be able to see any conversations happening with the customers. I wanted to see any problems or feedback being brought up repeatedly so that I would be able to investigate them more closely. What are the underlying issues that the user is struggling with?

After doing this for some time, I realized that we could kind of put all of the problems into buckets; a single conversation could potentially fit into several. The buckets included bugs, feature requests, feedback, or simply confusion about some part of the service that we were providing.

Every bucket could then be attached with an action item. For instance, with a bug, you could instantly create a bug report addressing it, which can then be estimated and added to your team’s sprint. For a feature request, you can do the same. I try to actually understand what the real need of the user was. Feedback can sometimes enter the developer’s domain, but it can also be directed to marketing, design, or other departments, as well.

We go through these queries weekly and tag them with these four different types of labels. They are then prioritized according to urgency. I don’t know a lot of PMs who are doing this in this sort of fashion.

Lessons learned

  • Every conversation becomes an important way to transform the product. Take in every piece of input from your users and feed it back into the service that you provide for them.
  • This is a great way of getting other departments involved. They will be able to see what’s happening and add their insight.
  • This way of working really does make your customers feel as though you listen to them.

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Jean-Benoit Malzac

Head of Product at Ava

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