3 Factors for Customer-Centric Product Management and Development

Even the most advanced technology may not resonate with customers. Instead, your customers want the best solution for their specific problem. That’s why customer-centric product management and customer-centric product development are so important.


August 27, 2019

Even the most advanced technology may not resonate with customers. Instead, your customers want the best solution for their specific problem. That’s why customer-centric product management and customer-centric product development are so important.

In other words, you need to focus on building a great customer experience from the earliest stages of enterprise product management and at every stage after.

CX in Enterprise Product Management

At first glance, it may be difficult so see where customer experience fits in someone’s role as a builder of new products and features. After all, specialists in enterprise product management have technical specs to worry about.

But in reality, a customer-first approach probably matches some of your current values. Three primary factors of customer-centric product development and customer-centric product management include:

  • Functionality
  • Accessibility
  • Emotional Connection

These factors are listed in order of most-to-least likely to be used by current product developers. In other words, most developers want their product to meet a specific need, but fewer consider the long-term emotional aspect.

Customer-Centric Product Development

These three factors also create an exceptional customer experience, which you can read more about in our Customer Experience Lifecycle Management whitepaper. So what does each factor really mean?

Functionality: Does the Product Meet My Needs?

West's CXLM Maturity Model

As mentioned before, this is the feature most likely to be used in enterprise product management teams today. Few developers start a project without considering whether a product meets an end user’s needs.

However, you can take this factor a step further than your competition. Before setting out to solve a problem, make sure you’re tackling the right issue. Take a cluttered email inbox, for example. While you may want a quicker way to delete incoming items, others may want the option to hide items until later. Both serve the same end goal, so be sure you know which solution is preferred by the greatest number of customers.

Accessibility: Is It Easy to Use?

Ease-of-use should be another common concern for enterprise product management teams. Unfortunately, some teams reserve this step for UI/UX to handle later. Considering ease-of-use early on saves time, money and headaches down the road. And you’ll have better results.

Now, a few things to consider. Can your new product be incorporated into an existing product? Or can it at least be accessed through the same portal? Consumers value simplicity, so ensure your product meets that need.

Emotional Connection. Do I Feel a Positive Connection With This Product?

Product teams may believe that marketing holds sole responsibility for this step. But in customer-centric product development, developers take on this role. Anyone in enterprise product management should feel pride in their product and want to see it succeed. When customers feel an emotional connection, they grow loyal to your product. And customer loyalty is one of the most important factors in business and product success.

So don’t rely on others for this step. Take it on yourself to ask, “What can I do to make this product special for my customers?” By creating that emotional connection at development, you control the narrative going forward and make your product more desirable from the get-go.

Tips for Customer-Centric Product Management

Customer experience is a sum of all the touch points along a customer’s journey with a brand, so all your products must be part of that connected experience. For example, West’s customer Portal creates a seamless interaction between products. Users can move from product to product within the Portal and center all their West-related activity in one location. This not only improves the functionality of Portal but for all the user’s West products.

But now that development is over, customer-centric product management begins. Brands must provide consistent communication with their customers. That’s not only to keep consumers updated. Ongoing, two-way communication lets your customers be consultants in the process, so you can continue making your product more functional, accessible and emotionally connected.

As an example, we provide weekly updates, training and informative sessions about Portal. That gives our clients the knowledge they need and the tools to become brand ambassadors and share the product with others.

Finally, we realized a vital component of customer-centric product management is the ability to measure success and continuously rebuild and improve. So our team placed a feedback feature within Portal to complete a true feedback loop with clients. While our feedback system is built within the product itself, you can do this with an external communication channel as well, like email. Just allow customers to make suggestions to foster a positive emotional connection and learn more about how to update your products.

Put the Customer First

By incorporating customer experience into the enterprise product management process, a customer-centric approach can pave the way for even better product solutions that are more predictive and prescriptive. It’s a process of learning, building and renewing to provide the best services possible.

So don’t just leave your product in the hands of marketers and sales teams. Drive the conversation from the beginning by addressing these three factors at the earliest stages and beyond. After all, great customer experiences first need great product management.

And for even more customer-centric product development and management tips, check out our blog on the benefits of stable teams. These are all processes we incorporate in our business to drive success for all our products.

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