Why I “ditched” your product? Think like a customer. Not like a technologist

Steve jobs used to say “start with the customer experience and walk backwards”, suggesting  that the product is a mean to solve a customer problem and provide an experience.

Zipcar, a car on-demand service, is a great illustration of that.  The company understands that the car is just a mean for one to mobilize from point A to point B. Owning a car, for many of us, is a way to serve that need but that need can be served by having an on-demand car for example (hence Zipcar).

Many technologists fail to recognize they offer a solution to a need vs. a pure product. They are obsessed by features, losing sight of the customer experience. To demonstrate this, let me share with you a recent experience I had with a product.

My need: A ‘quick and dirty’ content cross platform publishing tool. Results: days and hours of wasted time and a bad customer experience

Two months ago I was looking to design and publish a website. I needed something quick and professional, so I thought I’d use one of the many services available to design and publish content.

I decided to try a platform I heard of a few months ago. The platform was developed by a well funded startup (over $50M in venture funding) that has been around for a few years.

Initial website design took about ten days to design and publish. Halfway through the design process I discovered the platform was using Flash. Big issue as that eliminates a great portion of my mobile visitors.

I spent the next couple of days browsing through their online support center, trying desperately to find a way to contact their support.  A few days and emails later, I discovered a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. Yes! I thought I was a single click away from fulfilling my goal and actually getting the website up.

Followed the link, submitted my website and….nothing happened…for days.

To cut a long story short, I asked one of their board members to put me in touch with one of the company’s VPs. The VP was angry that I found it challenging to contact them through the website (“Here is a link” he replied. Good luck finding it on your website). He also mentioned that the conversion is done instantly so “there is no need for a confirmation” (apparently the conversion didn’t go well but since there is no feedback you have no way of knowing).

Remember what I needed:  A simple, quick and dirty website to publish content.

In summary, all of technologists out there, remember a few basic things:

  1. What improves the your customer experience? A new feature or a service.
  2. Always think from a customer’s perspective. Let your customer try your product while you are sitting in the background. Observe how they use it.
  3. Make is easy for customers to connect with you. Some of the things you will learn from customer emails: customer demographics, product bugs, features they like/use etc. Nothing like customer feedback to improve experience.
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About shanishoham

After 14 years of General Management and incubating/scaling new businesses & organizations for enterprises (established a $55M mobile business and a $100M/400 employees global division), I became an investor Today I’m a board member/mentor with 5 incubators & micro-VCs and involved with many other private & public incubators around the world. I also founded a VC firm named 2020 and I'm a member with a number of angel groups so i get to see & work with many startups, innovation centers and other parties across the ecosystem. I’m an alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of business - Sloan Master in Management program, a 10 months intensive program for 57 carefully selected experienced Executives and leaders from all around the world.

One comment

  1. One of the biggest failures of start-up businesss leaders today is inability to answer the question of why will my idea – product or service be valuable ? If the answer doesn’t begin with It will be valuable because – we have developed an easy to use way to…. or our product is an easy to use …. Then their company will have a hard time transitioning from a company to a business.

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