How Good Product Managers Identify Customer Needs

How Good Product Managers Identify Customer Needs

Product managers can excel in all kinds of tasks, but if they’re unable to identify and address consumer needs, their efforts for innovation in product design may go to waste. In markets that can change radically in the span of a day, the consumer is king.

Product managers need to be able to understand and target consumer needs using complex, streamlined solutions, and methodology. Here are some suggestions on how this can work.

The Five Why’s

Identifying customer needs is often about digging deep enough to uncover the rationale. It can be easy to rely on market research or surveys, but true product innovation and design come from a conceptual understanding of consumer wants.

The five why’s are a method that can be implemented at different ends of any business, and it essentially means asking why at least five times to understand the real root of the problem. Let’s see how this works practically.

Practical Applications

Let’s say that the sales for a skincare company’s AHA/BHA peeling solution peaked and then fell dramatically. The five why’s would look something like this:

  1. Why did consumers stop buying it? A number of publicized cases depicted the product causing extreme irritation and skin damage.
  2. Why did this product cause this effect? It was used incorrectly and in combination with products that will damage the skin.
  3. Why did consumers not know how to use the product? The nature of the product is for consumers to incorporate the product in a custom way based on their skincare routines.
  4. Why did we not publicize how this product can be used? The marketing team did not foresee this issue.
  5. Why have we not released a statement about it? With the insight we have now, a memo can be sent out, and damage control can be performed.

That’s how the five why’s (or less) can get to the root of an issue as well as explore a contingency program in case of consumer needs are not being met.

A view of a meeting table with a laptop and documents on it.

Redefining Service Design

Essentially, what we’re talking about here is transforming how we approach consumer needs and experiences based on service design. For too long, UX has been limited to how we think about digital experiences.

However, service design as a product management paradigm helps us widen horizons on that front. Service design’s underlying principle is to think of user experiences of our product as a holistic experience. This includes the way the product is conceived, created, marketed, packaged, and managed in its lifetime.

Service design is the key to thinking more empathetically about our consumers and how their relationship to your brand is formed. It can be hard to think outside the box and explore concrete techniques like business origami to implement service design principles.

Getting an external perspective can make all the difference here! Companies like D Laer can offer product design consultancy and product design prototyping services in Abu Dhabi and internationally.

The design and innovation consulting firm has a solid history of providing useful insights on design culture, customer experience, business transformation, and more!

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