Resources > Articles

Do all Customer Voices Carry Equal Weight?

Do all Customer Voices Carry Equal Weight?

I have been fascinated with proper categorization and order as far back as memory allows. While categorization of physical items, devices and possessions is important, the categorization of ideas is critical to human progress.

We talk about music as baroque or romantic and art as impressionistic or abstract. We talk of tasks on a scale of time, the ever-present categorization mechanism. Categorization is key because it allows us to look at things in context. And classification is particularly important when we discuss our customers.

Companies devise user personas with interest- and preference-based categories to understand who their customers are. This simple but powerful mechanism has been used since the 1980s, allowing companies to build a mental picture of their target audience’s personality.

Product managers must connect the dots between a persona’s needs and the product features that best meet those unique needs. For instance, a fashion retail firm may refer to two user personas: Tanya and Skylar. Tanya is a bargain hunter. Price is most important to her, ahead of selection, status or convenience. Meanwhile, Skylar is a busy career woman who cares more about convenience than price.

If you head an ecommerce marketplace, Tanya’s opinions will carry more weight for features such as the clearance section, coupons and sales. Skylar is more likely to be a good representative for features like “buy online, pick up in store.”

To connect the dots effectively, you must have a strong understanding of your personas. And to do that, you must talk to your customers. Luckily, with the advent of social media, access to customers and associated analytics have increased in number, quality, influence and importance. However, it’s important to keep two key things in mind when you start listening to your customers.

We listen to real people, not abstract personas

While personas are immeasurably helpful, it is critical to remember that personas appear on a scale or range, but real users are a more absolute value. As Chart 1 shows, not all customers represent the persona as closely or accurately.

If we assume we are correct in discovering and identifying our user persona, we see that Joan Baez and Knopfler closely embody our user base. Despite subtle differences in how they use and perceive the product, they are strongly aligned. To a degree, Emmylou is also aligned to the general trend, but her opinions must be strongly analyzed before they are incorporated. Her opinions may not represent the core market, but they have value when trying to understand the outliers. Finally, we have Cohen. While his opinions may have value for some product managers, listening to him could navigate your feature roadmap away from your unique selling proposition.

Everyone has a platform, but not everyone has influence

Social media provides everyone with a pedestal and a voice, but not every voice has influence. The complexity of human networks and relationships often means that some voices are more shared, liked and retweeted than others. According to a recent article in Content Marketing, 64 percent of all articles received less than 20 shares across all networks, and 1 percent of the articles got 30 percent of all shares. The takeaway? Some voices are influencers, others are listeners. And there’s extra value in listening to key influencers.

Once we realize these two things, we realize that all customers should not be listened to equally. We can build a table to help us plot each voice and the relative importance and weight it should carry within the organization and our product plans.

priority chart

Top Priority

Opinion Makers and Ideal Persona.These users are essential to our products. They are capable of generating new features and improving the quality of existing ones. Their input helps determine new features for our product roadmaps. Through their outsized influence on the community, they are also key to others forming an opinion about the perceived quality of our product.

High Priority

Active Fans and Ideal Persona OR Opinion Makers and Close to Ideal Persona. These two groups are critical to the product’s success and require close attention because of their complexity. The Opinion Makers who are not ideal personas may request features that veer us away from our unique selling proposition and the appeal to the core group. Active Fans offer their opinions less frequently but share more information with others; they influence prioritization of our product/feature roadmap. And although they may not generate ideas, they help us gauge which of the Opinion Makers’ ideas resonate.

Medium Priority

Active Fans and Close to Ideal Persona OR Opinion Makers and Somewhat Ideal Persona OR Bystanders Who Are Ideal Persona. These groups occupy a medium priority when it comes to listening to the voice of the customers. They are a good gauge of feature-set prioritization but occupy a supporting position to our earlier groups. The feature set, critiques and ideas generated by this group may or may not be applicable to the product, and their shares may not talk of the core appeal. Focus on looking for off-notes, criticisms and complaints from this group.

Low Priority

Active Fans and Somewhat Ideal Persona OR Bystanders Who Are Somewhat or Close to Ideal Persona. It is ironic that most of the actual buyers belong to the medium- and low-priority groups. After all, hierarchically, most people are Bystanders, not Influencers. These low-priority users have a low output when it comes to generating new content about our products; they are more likely to be the audience for such content. Even if some content is generated, it is unlikely to influence the masses.

Knowing your customers is critical; knowing which of your customers’ voices to value the most is key to keeping your product and roadmap prioritized and profitable.

Author:

Other Resources in this Series

Most Recent

The image features the term use scenario being revealed underneath a ripped piece of paper
Article

What is a Use Scenario [ +7 Examples]

The purpose of drafting use scenarios is to help your development and design teams to start thinking about solutions. Context is the foundation of innovation, and you’ll be providing a tool that will be the starting point for collaborative and productive meetings.
Article

[Comprehensive Guide] Product Owner vs Product Manager

Learn how to separate the roles of product owner and product manager on Agile teams and uncover some common challenges with confusing these roles. Including a short primer on the Agile revolution.
Article

Use Scenarios are Stories That Provide Context

The problem with today’s user stories is that they aren’t interesting. And they aren’t stories. The solution is use scenarios. It’s a narrative. It explains the problem in the form of a real-life story.
Article

Benefits of Bundle Pricing

Bundle pricing is simply a strategy where services or products are packaged together for one (often reduced) price rather than priced separately. This article covers some benefits of bundle pricing followed by a system for getting started.
Article

A Quick Guide to Value-Based Pricing

Value-based pricing begins with knowing the customer’s willingness to pay based on the perceived value of your product. You can charge less than a customer’s willingness to pay, and they feel like they’ve received an

OTHER ArticleS

The image features the term use scenario being revealed underneath a ripped piece of paper
Article

What is a Use Scenario [ +7 Examples]

The purpose of drafting use scenarios is to help your development and design teams to start thinking about solutions. Context is the foundation of innovation, and you’ll be providing a tool that will be the starting point for collaborative and productive meetings.
Article

[Comprehensive Guide] Product Owner vs Product Manager

Learn how to separate the roles of product owner and product manager on Agile teams and uncover some common challenges with confusing these roles. Including a short primer on the Agile revolution.

Sign up to stay up to date on the latest industry best practices.

Sign up to received invites to upcoming webinars, updates on our recent podcast episodes and the latest on industry best practices.

Subscribe

Subscribe

Training on Your Schedule

Fill out the form today and our sales team will help you schedule your private Pragmatic training today.

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Phone
Company
Job Title
Location
How can we help you?
Preferred method of contact
Privacy Policy*
Map Your Message to Its Audience with the Communication Compass
Map Your Message to Its Audience with the Communication Compass
Ensure your message hits the mark. This eBook helps you visually map communication styles so you can tailor your design story to a stakeholder or business partner.

Download Ebook

Demystifying Data Projects: A Guide for Business Leaders
While data science is a competitive advantage, data isn’t magic. Learn how to make magic happen by partnering more effectively with data professionals. This eBook delves into types of data projects, sample questions, tools and methods, key points and cautions—so stakeholders like you can initiate data projects with real business impact.

Download Ebook

Define Ebook Thumbnail
What’s the difference between a successful data analysis project and one that falls flat? 

Before you begin working with the data, you need to understand what you’re solving for. Gathering context and aligning around goals with your stakeholders from the outset will help you avoid disconnects and deliver actionable insights. Discover the most vital questions to ask before embarking on a data analysis project in our in-depth guide, “Define: Laying the Foundation for Successful Data Analysis.”

Download Ebook

Download Now