Following a successful few weeks talking implementation, CRM and marketing automation integration, lead nurturing, and reporting, we’re joined today by Kyle Coleman, who is here to share more about how tech organizations can better listen to customer feedback and needs. Kyle is a Manager on Pardot’s Product team, and helps to act as the voice of the customer within the Engineering organization. Take a look at her interview below to learn more about the importance of putting members of your tech team out in the field, how marketing can help, and why it’s critical to have a cardigan for every occasion.
World, meet Kyle Coleman.
So a big part of what your team does is listen to client needs. What process do you use to collect feedback and insights from clients about the product?
There are lots of ways that ideas get to us: via the Idea Exchange, customer Forum, input from sales, market analysis, customer interviews, events, Linkedin User Groups, cross-functional teams, and more. We aggregate this feedback as best and as often as possible and stack the requests against each other by identifying customer value, impact (how many people can use it?), and opportunity. We also conduct on-site interviews with clients. Our goal is to get something into the customer’s hands as quickly as possible so that we can validate our assumptions and our approach.
Why is it important to have members of your tech team out in the field listening to client and prospect needs?
It’s not just important — it’s essential. Product acts as the voice of the customer within an engineering team. It’s imperative we understand customer needs, problems, values, and day-to-day duties to make the right product choices when the time comes to craft a solution with our team.
Having members of the Engineering team engaged with customers is a game changer. The more closely they are involved with customers on a day-to-day basis, the more empathy, passion, and concern they develop for their customer and can infuse into the solution. If you’re listening to the customer, you’ll craft a better product than you ever could have imagined.
So many of us got into technology because we like to solve problems…for people. The more you can get in front of or on the phone with the person experiencing the problem, the more likely you are to develop the right solution and the more rewarded you will feel when it rolls off the line.
At the end of the day, everyone is product’s customer: sales, services, current customers, prospective customers, partners — everyone. So we try our best to service everyone, but of course our customers and prospective customers are our priority.
Great points. Since a large part of our audience is made up of marketers, what would you say is the main difference between Product Managers and Product Marketing? How can marketing better enable engineering and product teams?
Good question. While product defines the “why” and “what,” and also has a thorough understanding of customer problems and the engineering team, product marketing does a great job defining the value proposition, positioning, and messaging around a product. They can tell the world what we’ve built and define the go-to-market strategy. While you don’t have to have a product marketer to define your value proposition, it’s more and more helpful as your company grows. Marketing is very helpful for competitive analysis, market research, supporting product launches, and closing the feedback loop.
What advice would you give to companies that would like their customers to feel more valued for their input?
I would certainly start by offering up public arenas that your internal teams monitor on a regular basis (LinkedIn, Facebook, Idea Exchanges, Customer Forums, Success Communities, etc). The more interaction your team members have with your customer base, the better.
I’d then take it a step further and engage your engineering and product teams on sales calls, customer support calls or tickets, and customer interviews (on site or over the phone) — even if they just sit in and listen. This helps them to develop that emotional attachment and empathy that I mentioned earlier. They can then work with their teams to prioritize larger efforts against smaller ones to make sure they are constantly delivering value to their constituents.
And lastly, for our practical advice-seekers out there, what single tool best enables you to do your job?
The best tool I have isn’t a tool, but the question ‘why?’ If you can dig into the root of the problem, you have the opportunity to come back with something that exceeds your customers’ wildest dreams. I’ve been told quite frequently that the best product managers are four-year-olds, because they’re always asking why.
And now time for our fun questions! You’re pretty well known at Pardot (in a good way!) for your personality. How would your Pardot coworkers describe you?
Oh goodness. Eclectic, energetic, hard-headed, envelope pusher?, smart (I hope?), hilarious (duh)…
All of the above, in my opinion! Last one — if your life was a book, what would you name it?
My life: In Cardigans
(yes, I have a cardigan for almost every occasion)
Love it. You can check out Kyle rocking the clothing game in her kid pic below, and stay tuned for our next summer camp interview on demand generation, a hot topic for all of the B2B marketers out there!