Get Customer Feedback Quickly

When developing a product or working on a project, do you find that you focus on too many priorities? Do you try and get everything done before getting feedback? Do you hesitate to have a customer try the product thinking that they may not like it?

What if you started thinking in a different way?  Doing the minimum to gain the maximum customer value. From a product perspective, this means getting the product in front of the customer early and often by maximizing the value and shipping the software as early as possible through iterations.

Here is an example that I have experienced multiple times throughout my career.  A client asks for 20 items to be completed for a project. Someone will ask the client, what is your highest priority? The client states that everything must be done before using the product. It’s all a high priority.

I have seen where a product that could have gotten customer feedback in a month or less, took over a year to ship. The result of this delay was feedback that things didn’t work as expected and the value wasn’t much because certain features didn’t work as expected. That feedback can be a good thing. The only problem is that one could’ve started getting it in a month or less as opposed to over a year. How does one do this?

Here are some things to try:

  • Apply the Pareto Principle to your work and life to maximize value
    • In simple terms, when applied to product development, the Pareto Principle states that approximately 80% of the customer usage of the product functionality is in 20% of the initial features
  • Force rank priority through collaborating with your customer
    • Get all the items in a main backlog view and put them in an order of maximum value
    • Ask your customer if you could see any item first, which would it be? Second? and so on….
  • Deliver software early and often to your customer
    • Talk to the development team and present a vision, strategy, and road-map
    • Let the team figure out how to get the highest priority to the customer early
    • If the customer tells you they don’t like the product early, take that feedback and inspect and adapt quickly
      • This could potentially save an organization substantial amounts of money and delight your customer(s)
  • Apply Ockham’s Razor to your product design and choose the simplest design when trying to decide between functionally equivalent designs
  • Lead with the Agile Manifesto and Principles behind the Agile Manifesto
  • Implement a lightweight framework such as Scrum for one team or LeSS for many teams to get early and continuous customer feedback

All of these ideas are meant to focus on the minimum in order to gain the maximum value for your customer.

What ideas have you tried to maximize value for your customer and get feedback quickly?

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