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How do I build products and features that my customers actually want?

February 27, 2024

This interview is part of Kameleoon's Expert FAQs series, where we interview leaders in data-driven CX optimization and experimentation. Ryan Glasgow is the Founder & CEO of Sprig: product experience insights, delivered fast. Customers include Notion, Square, PayPal, Stripe, Robinhood, Loom, Dropbox, Ramp, Figma, and Coinbase. Ryan is formerly a founding PM for Weebly (acquired by Square), Vurb (acquired by Snap), Livefyre (acquired by Adobe), GraphScience (acquired by Centro), and Extrabux (acquired by Rakuten/eBates).

What is Sprig? What makes your product unique? 

Sprig is a product experience insights platform that empowers product teams to understand the “why” behind user actions.

Product teams run targeted Sprig in-product Surveys and Replays to understand why users take certain actions and what they think about the product experience.

Sprig uses AI to analyze the Survey responses and Replay recordings to surface product issues and opportunities in real-time. This saves product teams hours spent manually collecting and analyzing experience data.

How do you generate ideas for features? Should product, marketing, or both own this process?

Feature ideas can come from anyone in your organization, but generally, those who interact with customers regularly and hear their feedback directly, such as sales and customer support teams, are a gold mine of ideas. You can also work directly with your customers to generate ideas, whether that’s through methods such as surveys or 1:1 interviews where you can discuss ideas in-depth.

Ownership of idea generation might depend a little on your organizational structure and business vertical, but for most product-led companies, I recommend product teams own this.  While ownership lies with product teams, there needs to be strong processes in place to involve every department across your business, not just product.  

At Sprig, the product team is responsible for owning the product roadmap, and they gather input from our customer base to identify problems to solve and potential solutions to these challenges.

We even co-create new features with our customers. A leading financial technology company recently asked us to build a new survey question type. We worked with them to spec the feature and shared the designs with them, and they were the first to try the feature when it was complete. We regularly use Sprig to identify customer issues and drive our roadmap forward through Surveys and Replays.

How do you gather relevant customer feedback? Which methods do you use to yield the best results? 

It’s important to choose a method that matches your research objective. For example, if you want to improve the user experience, you need to select a method that will truly show what users think while they are still in the experience.

However, if you want to understand which new features customers want, less structured focus groups can be a good method to get feedback. Whatever method you use, it’s essential to see user feedback as a constant process rather than a one-off activity.

At Sprig, we gather relevant customer feedback through Sprig in-product Surveys, Replays, and customer interviews. We prioritize continuous discovery to incorporate feedback into our product strategy constantly. Our research includes:

  • Sprig in-product Surveys and AI Analysis: The power of Sprig is that it allows companies to get continuous feedback from the right users through event targeting. We use Sprig with our own users to do just that, and it allows our product team to understand what our customers think about the platform and where they want to see improvements.
  • Monthly customer sessions: We meet with customers for feedback on current and new features. Through this feedback, we determined the importance of AI Analysis. Many users express that our GPT-powered AI Analysis tool, which turns user feedback and behavior data into product recommendations, is extremely helpful. Some said that AI Analysis was one of the reasons they selected Sprig over competitors, so naturally, we decided to invest more heavily in Sprig AI. You’ll see some of these features released this year.

How do you use customer feedback to prioritize and validate your product roadmap?

Every team should leverage product insights before planning their roadmap or kicking off product development. Your team can save significant time and resources by validating your future products and features with your users.

The Sprig team practices what it preaches, as product insights are essential to our roadmapping process. I want to give one example that shows what I mean. As we looked to set our partnership integration strategy for 2023, we knew the possibilities were endless. We’ve built over a dozen successful integrations with many platforms that are integral to the Modern Product Stack, including Segment and Figma. But we needed a way to prioritize which integrations to work on next.

To help us determine which integrations to prioritize, we targeted a Sprig in-product Survey to users who engaged with our website and in-app integrations gallery. In this survey, we asked users which of our current integrations were most valuable to them and which ones they were interested in seeing next. The results showed that users sought new destinations for exporting and analyzing responses. These insights led us to partner with product analytics tools like Mixpanel, enabling customers to perform detailed data analysis and help them answer the “why” behind their product data.

Which teams should be responsible for customer feedback loops?

I believe that managing customer feedback loops involves collaboration across several teams within an organization:

  • Customer Support: Customer support teams are on the front lines, interacting directly with customers. They play a crucial role in collecting and documenting feedback, addressing customer inquiries, and forwarding valuable insights to other departments.
  • Product: Product managers gather and analyze customer feedback to inform product improvements and developments. They work closely with customer support and sales teams to understand customer needs and preferences.
  • User Experience (UX) and Design Team: The UX and design teams focus on creating a positive and user-friendly experience. They can leverage customer feedback to refine interfaces, enhance usability, and ensure design choices align with user expectations.
  • Sales: Sales teams are in direct contact with customers during the sales process. They can gather valuable insights into customer preferences, pain points, and expectations, providing valuable input for product development and customer support.
  • Executive Leadership: Leadership teams, including CEOs like me, should be aware of and involved in the customer feedback process. They can use these insights to guide overall business strategy and prioritize initiatives that align with customer needs.

Considering adoption and retention, how should product and marketing work together to target audiences with high LTV potential?

To effectively target audiences with high lifetime value (LTV) potential, product and marketing need to have a strategic, collaborative approach that includes: 

  1. A shared understanding of target audience: Product and marketing teams should collaborate on comprehensive market research to identify and understand the characteristics of audiences with high LTV potential. They should also develop detailed customer personas based on insights from both teams. 
  2. Personalized onboarding and user experience: Marketing materials and messaging should align with the onboarding process to seamlessly transition from awareness to adoption. Product and marketing teams should collaborate on refining onboarding processes based on user insights.
  3. Data-driven decision-making: Product and marketing should use the same analytics tools to monitor user behavior, adoption rates, and other relevant metrics and regularly review and analyze data to identify trends and areas for improvement.
  4. Retention-focused campaigns: Working with the product team, marketing should design campaigns that focus on customer retention. These campaigns could include targeted emails, loyalty programs, and exclusive offers to encourage ongoing engagement with the product.

Ryan, you’ve been the founding PM in many very successful startups. What are the most important skills for a founding PM? 

Across my five startup experiences as the founding PM, empathy for the customer has been the most important skill.

Empathy comes in two forms: deeply understanding the customer problem and understanding whether a potential solution effectively solves the customer’s problem.

Empathy has been immensely helpful in my role as CEO because leadership requires empathy for customers, employees, and investors. My role is to understand all three groups and align their goals towards a common direction.

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