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A Guide to Announcing New Features Effectively

Product
Ownership
Users
Prioritization

30 August, 2021

Punit Bhansali

Punit Bhansali

Senior Product Manager at Atlassian

Punit Bhansali, Senior Product Manager at Atlassian, discusses how he put a lot of work into a new feature and maximized the impact of his efforts through simple customer outreach strategy.

Problem

Working at multinational conglomerates has its pitfalls and perks. After joining one of the largest electronics multinational companies, they just launched a product for payments. The product was unique in the sense that you no longer have to carry your plastic card, and the payment to merchants can simply be made through your phone. My main responsibility in the project was to engage the customers with payment and raise public awareness about our platform. The main idea I had was that we can become a discovery platform for the third-party vendors and provide several third-party features or products and the sale of these features would certainly be profitable for the company. However, as I mentioned, to implement my ideas, I had to increase the engagement of the people so that they keep coming back to our payment method.

Actions taken

After I initially studied the data regarding people who use payment platforms, I discovered that one particular area where people are using such payment platforms is for expense management. Let’s say people want answers to questions like “how much I spent on clothing” or “how much I spent on miscellaneous expenses”, things of that nature. However, the biggest drawback of the expense management system was it could not identify the category of the expenses based on the names of the merchants. As a result, the product was very cumbersome and not user-friendly.

The next step was to clarify where we had gone wrong and I eventually realized that there were some errors on our database because it showed around 200,000 vendors across India but however, the actual number was around 3 million vendors. Therefore, in order to mitigate this, our team came up with the idea of utilizing Google API. I went back to my marketing vendor and engineering team, and presented how Google API could be a solution since users are familiar with it. All it needed was a snapshot of the location from Google, after which we could figure out the merchant, where they made their purchases.

The team was very happy to move forward with the Google API process. However, during the testing procedure we discovered that only 30% - 40% of the users keep their location switched on. The rest may not even be aware of how to turn it on. Due to this issue, I had to circle back with the technology team and eventually found a solution in the form of a technology called “Triads'”. The beauty of Triads was no internet connection was needed to figure out the location, but instead an SMS would be sent to the user based on the tower location. However, we still had some issues with this process because the SMS which would be sent to the users would be using bank data. Consequently, the permission from the banks across India was needed and I had to involve our business and the sales team to obtain permission from at least around 4000 banks.

Afterwards, we were pretty much prepared for the alpha test. The initial testing involved 30,000 users but much to our surprise, 22,000 users out of the 30,000 users ended up declining due to the possibility of security issues. After this setback, I had to involve the customer engagement team and the content team to convince the users that we do not utilize a user’s personal data. Due to their creative skills, around 10 million users eventually gave us the permission and finally we had a very good feature that we could provide to our users. Furthermore, we even presented this to the headquarters and the team was very satisfied and our feature was ultimately launched in South Korea as well.

Lessons learned

  • When it comes to data, do not assume anything. Always keep in mind that empirical data beats assumptions any time, any day. It is not an exaggeration to say, but assumption is a dangerous daily habit.
  • Recognize that nobody is an expert in anything, and that you have to be patient and empathetic when it comes to end-users. Try to put yourself in that position, and eventually they will come around and embrace your ideas if you are diligent and determined enough.
  • Again, never make assumptions about particular teams either. I used to think certain teams were not fit enough to complete a project. To my surprise, when I had a meeting with the telecom team without much expectations, they ended up becoming an asset during the project. Moreover, don’t discard any possibility because at any given moment, a particular team may have the answer to your questions.

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