Alex Spengler on the trifecta for great product management
Product State Q&A
EC: Why should PMs immerse themselves in user feedback?
AS: Product intuition is a very important skill in great product management — especially in situations where there is not enough time or information available for decision-making. It is definitely a skill acquired through the years, but I believe we can accelerate that if we systematize how we leverage user feedback.
This is because there is no better way to develop your product intuition than exposing yourself to user feedback.
The more you get immersed in user feedback, the faster you start to understand their reality and develop a sense of what will work or not.
That immersion becomes exponentially higher when you are able to combine multiple sources of firsthand feedback and make them easily available to PMs to be searched, filtered, categorized, combined with other data sources — such as behavioral data from product analytics, user profiles from your CRM, and more — and plotted in timelines.
Most companies, especially when in a less mature product organization, are still sitting in a goldmine of user feedback — data from support tickets, surveys, community posts, user interviews — and not using that.
That happens mostly because it’s really time-consuming to build a system that works.
But it’s also because a lot of PMs see product analytics as the only data they need to answer user questions when it’s actually only the behavioral piece.
The trifecta for great product management involves quantitative data (analytics), qualitative data (feedback), and intuition.
EC: How can tools make PMs more customer-centric?
AS: Birdie started because our founders noticed that — even though almost every company says they are customer-centric — most of them fail to continuously understand user needs and evolve their products to deliver value to these customers.
And a lot of them fail because they try to collect more and more feedback instead of leveraging existing ones in a process that really becomes a part of a product team’s discovery and prioritization routine.
Today, Birdie gives PMs agility and helps them systematically develop product intuition.
Birdie’s approach is to break the silos between customer-facing areas and product teams, allowing PMs to instantly tap into thousands of existing feedback data points.
Technology like Birdie enables them to segment with behavior and customer data. We help them separate noise from signal, quickly run analyses, and get answers to help generate hypotheses, quantify problems / opportunities, and prioritize higher-impact solutions.
The focus on product teams allows different stakeholders, from PMs and Product Ops to customer-facing teams and marketers — to collaborate more effectively towards successful outcomes and a more mature product organization.
EC: Why is it important for product leaders to know their company’s product maturity?
AS: As someone who has led teams in multiple industries, stages, and contexts, I’ve seen how much the maturity of your team can change what you should prioritize and how you should approach product management.
In a company where there is no clear vision or strategy, for example, there is no reason for you to invest in roadmapping tools and in building a process for how you collect user feedback — because in this kind of environment everything is very volatile and prioritizations change very often.
On the other hand, a more mature environment demands higher efficiency and systems that enable customer proximity at scale.
My first tip is to discover where you stand. Assessing how mature your organization is in terms of vision, strategy, processes, and people allows you to have a clear understanding of what are the things you need to work on first in order to move towards higher levels of maturity.
“The trifecta for great product management involves quantitative data (analytics), qualitative data (feedback), and intuition.”
- Alex Spangler
Thanks for reading Product State! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.