Once a product has been built, what is the best way to understand your customers concerns and experience the product usage pattern? I ‘m sure all product managers talk to their customers regularly to understand and get feedback. They could have the customers respond to product satisfaction surveys or have focused group discussions.
But, this might still not be enough to unearth all the latent issues that your customers are facing. What then, is a good way to put yourself in your customer’s shoes ?
We believe it is by actually using your own product. As a proper customer.
While it may be a lot easier for a B2C product startup to have its people use its products, it is not entirely impossible for a B2B startup to do so.
At Aindra Systems, our valuable employees and stake holders use our SmartAttendance SME product to mark their daily attendance as they come into the office and start work. We haven’t installed any dedicated device, scanner or RFID booth for the daily attendance but all of us are using our smart phones to give our daily mobile based face recognition; biometric attendance. This has manifold outcomes. While the direct benefit is, using the product on a regular basis brings out all the corner case defects, that would have otherwise gone unnoticed even after all the testing that is done on the product before it is made live.
The next benefit is that, the whole team becomes empathetic to the concerns of the customer. Every fix and every feature that is discussed and deliberated goes through the ‘Customer filter’, before getting implemented. With this approach we should, hopefully, be able to address the issue of the “Curse of Knowledge in product design” as well. The effects of which have been wonderfully articulated by Ben Yoskovitz in his blog post.
I am sure most of the Indian B2C product startups are doing this regularly. But I am curious to know if the B2B startups are doing this and what are their experiences.
This is still an experiment in progress for us and we will share more of our insights as we go along.
One thought on “Why should a startup use its own products”
I think being your own first customer is necessary to bring the product idea to v1.0. However, this is not sufficient for making a great products and definitely only an ingredient when it comes down to searching for a scalable business idea. There needs to an exploratory period and “building for yourself” time, but then real customers need to use the product.
Sometimes ugly things happen when built-for-yourself products hit the real-world, but this is necessary for the product to come to fruition. I suspect that products which come out of research ideas need to be built for yourself, then for your team, and then transition into B2B (letting real-world uses drive further development).