Talking Product with Customers

Before I jump in, let me clear a few housekeeping items out of the way. We’re covering a deep topic this month on the blog. We’re also talking with Annie Geile from Label Insight on the podcast. Stay tuned, because we might just have some bonus content for the podcast this month, too!

Our own Scott Berry will be joining a panel at the RYG Leadership Hour in Chicago. The event is on July 24th at GrubHub’s HQ and you can sign up here for the event. Gary Marroquin and Ryan Moline will also be in attendance, so be sure to say hey to any of the crew you see! This is a great networking opportunity and will be sure to have lots of amazing information you’ll be able to take advantage of and implement.

The reason I called this a deep topic is because there is no shortage of ways to talk about product with your customers when you work on a Success team. Upsells, updates, new releases, education, re-education, use cases, and the list can continue, but you get the point.

Working in communities, I spend an insane amount of time thinking about how to best build areas for customers to get together and talk about things. My personal philosophy is to take your product out of the equation and then deliver relevant information so people can talk about whatever they want to talk about. Most people end up worrying that they’ll talk about everything except for your product, but you can stop worrying about that right now. I promise that any branded community will have product questions and feedback. (If you’re looking to build any kind of community, here’s a really great Community 101 type article on Medium. It’s super basic, but you need to start with the basics, anyway).

When it comes to working in Success organizations, you’re probably not the person handling the community management. That’s completely fine and you can never think about it if that’s helpful to getting your job done, but the reality is that you can help your customers even more and have them fall even deeper in love with your organization if you get them involved in your community efforts.

You can even build a micro-community within your book. When you do this, you’ll end up creating an ecosystem for yourself where you can tap into the right people at the right times, making life a lot easier on yourself.

Start with your champions

The first thing anyone can do is find and identify the people that love your brand more than anyone else. Not people that never speak their mind or just blindly love everything, but the people that are always talking about how they use your product. These people (usually 1 for every 10 in your book) are the ones you spend time with consistently and haven’t even talked about switching platforms for a long time. Keep putting in the time to nurture these customers, because they become the bedrock for the little community you’re building out of your book.

Sometimes when a product change comes out, you’ll find that some of your champions aren’t loving it, but that’s why you should always know who your early adopters are.

Identify your early adopters

Whenever a new product release drops, whether that’s an up-sell or just a new feature, there are people that will absolutely loathe it. They’ll tell you why it’s the worst thing that has ever happened or they’ll tell you it’s just not for them. The problem with this is that most of the time a new release means hours of saved work on their end or it could be the breakthrough they need to get to that next level. You need to find the people that are struggling to use the new product or feature and help them see the value.

If you’re having a lot of issues with a client about adoption and you know the customers that love the new release, you can link them together to talk about their use case. It’s incredibly helpful to know exactly why a new release is beneficial, and sometimes you might not be able to articulate it as well as someone that lives in the product. These people can be some of your strongest allies.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t listen when someone offers their opinion, of course…

Learn to love feedback

Feedback on product is so important and learning to hear what the customer is saying when talking about your product helps build credibility that you understand/empathize and gives your product team more data and insight. You’re probably already a pro at listening to the customer, but you should also document every piece of feedback and pass it along to your product team. Even if it seems mundane, you should pass it along.

One way for you to build community is to wait for a few months and then ask a few of your customers to give their feedback on a release. You can do this all within a single company, but finding people and asking them their experiences builds the idea of community around you and your product. Conversations are vital.

If you spend your time building communities around product conversations in your book, you’ll soon find that you’re able to free yourself up in some aspects and won’t be swimming against the current nearly as often.

Joe Huber is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Customer Success Podcast. He is currently a Customer Community Strategist with Sprout Social.


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