Collaboration between product and customer-facing teams

  • 17 August 2021
  • 10 replies
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Would love to hear how everyone facilitates strong collaboration between Product and Customer-Facing teams.  

 

Over here at Productboard, we believe that our Customer-Facing teams are key to happy customers. Capturing feedback from customers and providing updates on product plans are important to build trust, so how do you best ensure Sales, Customer Success, and Support are well equipped with Product information they need?   Any places you think Productboard could better help with the process?

 


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This is an interesting question, and let me caveat that my perspective is coming from a PM that is not developing a software product, but rather using Productboard to define the Services we provide as an IT Managed Service Provider.

I have been looking at Productboard as somewhere to gather information together to build the framework of the product, none of the information Sales requires fits very well into this structure, the types of customer facing collateral I have created all sits within the service catalogue that is situated within our sharepoint.

The biggest pain I have is when there is information I have created within Productboard that would be useful in a Service Definition, it is very cumbersome to get this to another source. I have to go into every Product, Component and Feature Details tab and copy and paste thisinto other mediums, it would be nice to be able to export the structure of a single Product with the Components and Details easily, the CSV output via the API takes too long to sort to be useful in this context.

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Thanks for the input @darren.smith.  I understand the need to get Productboard information into customer facing tools.  We will certainly add this feedback into Productboard!

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ProductBoard could help us (a SaaS organization) by providing “not a knowledge-base” for internal stakeholders that relates to a particular product.

I’m imagining something similar to the portal, but with more depth. It’s a place that houses and organizes release notes, feature requests, upcoming feature changes, demonstration/video material etc that keeps our CS teams abreast of the state of a ‘feature’ as well as providing an easy way for them to provide feedback.

A few use cases:

As a Salesperson, I keep hearing that our Feature X (FX) isn’t as good as the competition. I could log into ProductBoard (need to authenticate, so… SSO?) and look up FX. There I could learn about current state - maybe I missed a release note - and see future state. This allows me to know if Product is working on this problem, or if I need to provide more insights etc.

Customer Success teams have a similar use case around complaints.

 

As a ProductManager, I’d love to semi-automate CS and Sales enablement tasks and keep release notes and training materials in my sole source of Product truth: ProductBoard.

 

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Hi @gavin this is great context!  I’m tracking these use cases in Productboard and will add your feedback.  I certainly think the use case of holding product info/training in Productboard in a contextual way is interesting. 

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Hi Sophie,

this might sound like a cliche but the most important thing to establish a working relationship between PMs and other customer facing roles is trust and communication. Now let me de-cliche it a bit, so it’s clear what I mean by that.

In the past there wasn’t a mutual trust between PMs and some of these departments you mention. This lead to missing customer feedback, barricades on both sides, and blaming the other parties. Which is obviously lose-lose situation because it doesn’t matter if you have a great product if the other customer facing roles are not able to communicate the value to the customer.

1. We established a monthly sync meeting with each of these departments where team members from both sides could meet and sync on the progress.

2. We had to work intensely together for months to get rid of other tracking tools the customer facing roles were using to track customer requests instead of ProductBoard. We had to explain why we want to track everything in ProductBoard and how it affects the prioritization process.

3. We have established an internal roadmap and release plans documents (outside of PB) that are updated on a regular basis a provide outlook on the product development and contain other important information (release tiers, pricing limitations, early designs, etc).

4. We setup a shared chat between the PMs and customer facing departments, where adhoc issues could be discussed.

5. Finally, we for each release we started preparing “enablement” materials for them. For every new functionality, the responsible PM creates a short (<5 min) video that captures the most essential information about the release - use cases covered, example of a customer, future timelines, etc. 


After months of working on the improving the communication I think it works pretty well now. But it was a long evolution and there was a lot of misunderstanding along the way. But now that the communication is working, both sides can reach out if they need more information apart from the resources we provide them.​​​​​​

What’s the one thing product managers should do?
Listen and explain. As a PMs we are often overwhelmed and it’s easy to neglect the feedback someone is trying to pass on. I see often times that PMs are trying to defend their decisions instead of listening what is the other person trying to say. But it’s a completely different experience to be a PM and have a distance from the feedback vs. being a CSM and return from a quartely call with displeased customer who has been waiting for his critical feature 6 months now. PMs should be more emphatetic, try to understand the other customer facing role and then have a conversation with them. Try to explain how product decisions are made. Involve them into the prioritization process if you must. But first and foremost, listen.

What are the things ProductBoard can help with? 

Make sure that getting feedback into PB and processing is as smooth and fast as possible. Don’t force people use another tool - instead expand options for integrations so they can use what they already know/are using. Help with processing notes so PMs can make sure all the feedback that is shared by the customer facing roles is proccess and tagged appropriately.

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Hi @martinmichalik really great insights here.  Appreciate your thoughts, and you can betcha they are already in Productboard :) 

 

Is there anything you think Productboard could do better to help empower Product listen and explain to customer-facing teams besides help with processing notes?  I certainly want to make sure Productboard can help show that PMs can close the feedback loop.  

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For us, the Intercom integration has been key! We used to have our Customer Success team go through a somewhat complicated process of logging feature requests in Notion. It was tough to get the team to provide enough context because that involved a lot of extra work. Now, all they need to do is tag a conversation as a feature request, and it’s so easy for me as a PM to tie insights to the correct features based on context. This simple change reduced so much friction between our teams.

I would love to see the Intercom integration be able to play a role in segmenting in the future as well. For example, our software serves business owners across a wide range of industries. I’d love if PB could look at an “industry” attribute that we set in Intercom so that I could create PB segments around industry data.

Not Productboard related, but we recently implemented a dedicated Slack channel with our Customer Success leads and Product leads. We found that important insights (especially about recent releases) were getting buried because CS folks assumed changes couldn’t be made. We had a quick meeting to remind the CS team that it’s our job to be “bothered” with product feedback and to not hesitate to bring these concerns forward in the new channel. It’s been working very well so far - CS feels way more supported in getting questions answered about the product and escalating important concerns.

One way Productboard could help a little more in this area is to provide a way for certain team members to have access to editing certain fields. I’d love for a Customer Success lead to be able to go in and set a driver score for priority based on what they are hearing. But we don’t want to give full maker access because 1) it’s cost prohibitive for editing just one value and 2) we don’t want to open up access to editing the feature itself. Currently we have them submit a priority number in a feature comment so that I can update it in PB, but it’s a bit cumbersome.

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Thank you so much @samgioia I pushed this feedback to Productboard.  Glad to hear your success story with getting the product feedback into Slack after releases!  Do you then push to Productboard to have the feedback in your system of record?

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Awesome, thank you!

For the Slack channel, it depends on the feedback. The channel is intended to escalate issues beyond a normal feature request. If it’s something small related to one of our recent releases, we may choose to flow the fix/change as a bug on our Notion-based Support Issue Tracker. If we want to gather more examples of user feedback before making a decision, we will create a feature in Productboard for that and give a heads up to the CS team to be on the lookout for more examples. 

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Makes sense!  If you face any other pain points with customer-facing team and product team collaboration feel free to reach out at any time.

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