How to improve a Product or Service
Products/ services can often be improved if we listen to our customers. Use the service organization to explore customer questions and complaints fully. If the customer is asking if the product does something or how to do it, and the product functionality isn’t there, the service representative should question further what the customer is trying to do and why. Get the background. Find the new use the customer is trying to perform. This could be captured as a ‘requirement’ by the service organization.
I once heard a presentation by Wordperfect when they were the word processing standard. If the customer called asking how to do something and it was not a feature of the software, the customer service person was trained to keep asking questions to understand what the customer was trying to do. Then they would capture the request in a data base and pass it the marketing and development organization.
The benefit of using customer service in this way, is that the details of what the customer wanted, which were meticulously explained to the customer service representative is not lost. The customer service representative can bridge the communication gap between the customer and the developer and document what is missing in terms the developers would understand. This is an excellent use of customer service resources which is often overlooked. Wordperfect was using this technique for its list of next features.
Which improvements get funded?
After a number of requirements are gathered and aggregated, the balancing act between customer requests and affordability enters the picture. If your organization cannot afford to make all the improvements, which ones do you invest in?
Those with the highest number of requests?
Those from the largest accounts that buy the most from you?
Those that make you unique?
Those that catch you up to your competitors?
These questions are not simple to answer but any product requirements process needs to have a process to decide what is in and what is out of the next product.
Offering the right features and services with your products has a positive impact on customer satisfaction. There are many ways to listen to customers, social media, software, complaints, service requests but one thing is clear. Companies who want to improve their products and retain market share need to be listening and then need a management system to decide which improvements to fund through the development process.
How does your organization handle product requirements? How are product requirements prioritized for funding?