Friday, January 06, 2012

Let customers and colleagues peek into your thought process

Some of the best restaurants in the world have open kitchens. Patrons can walk into the kitchen and see how their food is cooked and be part of the experience. The same applies to product conversations as well. You should let your customers peek into how you think as a team to design products, how your work together, how you turn concepts into ideas and how you take decisions.

There are some simple techniques that can help. Invite your customers to the collaboration space you use to share workshop minutes and whiteboard drawings. Share your whiteboard drawings with your team members and invite them to have a conversations around it. You colleagues will start asking clarifying questions and start providing their view point. Keep your product conversations as transparent to the customer as possible. Customers will watch what is being asked and said.  In many cases customers will directly answer questions and put a definitive end to a debate.  When customers can watch you collect, organize, synthesize and decide, their confidence in your goes up significantly.

While sharing and discussing product concepts, you will fail to capture ideas, misinterpret customer comments, and make mistakes. By keeping your work open within a trusted group of colleagues and customers, you have the opportunity to receive feedback from them and take corrective action.

Openness is one of the best ways to engage customers in your product conversation. It is important to notice that customers may not agree with everything you do. But at least they will know what you are doing and will appreciate the honesty.

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