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Transforming through product: Champion the customer

by Charlie Wileman4 November 2022 3 Min Read

Becoming a product-led organisation isn’t just about hiring a bunch of product managers and upping your data game. It’s a company-wide mindset shift.

But shifting a whole company attitude can be a challenge. Which is not surprising when you consider that a lot of well-established organisations tend to be driven by sales. And transforming a sales-led business into a product-led business is no mean feat. Especially if there’s resistance to change, competing priorities and established ways of working to overcome.

In our recent webinar, ‘How product drives change’, we spoke to senior product leaders about challenges they’ve faced on the road to scaling their product capability, and what really helped to shift the needle.

The recurring theme? A customer-centric approach. Below are three ways that championing the customer can help companies think product-first.

Bring the customer to life

Be proactive. Get feedback. Humanise the process

Srin Madipalli, Founder & Investor

It’s easy for big, scaling companies to lose touch with their customers, with layers of data and spreadsheets overshadowing direct user feedback.

As well as bringing things back to your audience personas, Accomable founder Srin Madipalli suggests getting real customers into the office to talk about their experience. “Be proactive. Get feedback. Humanise the process”, he says.

Not only will this create company-wide proximity to the end user, but it will also highlight the product team’s value and expertise, which can make the path to becoming a product-led business a lot smoother.

Lead with customer-first decisions

Have a strong user advocacy or user research piece in every decision that you make

Simon Jaffery-Reed, Chief Product Officer at Chambers and Partners

Any product person worth their weight understands the importance of user research for scaling digital businesses. And for larger sales-led organisations, it’s imperative that research and product work together.

“Have a strong user advocacy or user research piece in every decision that you make. Relate it not only to product but also to overall strategy,” says Chambers and Partners Chief Product Officer, Simon Jaffery-Reed. “Every decision we make comes from a place of data and evidence surrounding the problem and customer need.”

Make the customer your number-one stakeholder

Make sure the voice of the customer is something that everybody, at all levels, is asked to represent.

Becky Yelland, VP of Product at Infogrid

According to Infogrid’s VP of Product at Infogrid, Becky Yelland, making sure the voice of the customer is something everybody is asked to consider and represent goes a long way to unifying an organisation on its digital transformation trajectory. “Make sure the voice of the customer is something that everybody, at all levels, is asked to represent. Talk. Do brown bag lunches. Make sure people really understand the problem they’re trying to solve day to day with product.”

It's not about product-led or sales-led

Of course, talking in terms of customer acquisition and customer retention makes it easier to marry product goals with business goals. It can also help to reduce friction, prioritise, and unify an organisation.

But, as Simon puts it, “it’s not about being product-led or sales-led; it’s about how you get the customer’s point of view into all teams”. Because when you stay focused on the customer, it’s easier to zoom in on the problem your business is trying to solve.

Play back the full conversation with Srin, Simon and Becky on our event page to learn how to kickstart your transformation into a product-led business.

Inclusive Design expert and passionate about delivering positive transformational change across products, services and teams.
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