"The customer is always right" is a subjective slogan that aims to provide high-quality service to the customer. When it comes to software products and services, it can easily backfire. The tendencies to overreact to a paying client's concern can cause us to lose valuable time.
“We need this feature, our potential client asking for it!”
From the standpoint of a company that builds our own product rather than doing a consultancy. When building a software-as-a-service product, whether, for businesses or users, you bound to hear of this. It can come from the sales manager, founders, or even product manager!
Whenever we are in an advance discussion that can potentially close the sales, the counterparty always has other items to consider. They can change their mind too. At this stage, it is difficult to know if they really need the feature to close the deal or just using it as an excuse. It is always a verbal agreement rather than a term in the contract.
As a product manager, our role is to evaluable the input and feature request as per normal. We should not evaluate the feature by the one-time potential sales value. If we do it, we are changing from a product company to a consultancy business.
We should review the feature request against our current group of clients and the vision of the company.
Is this feature going to serve the majority of our current paying customers?
Will it make the life of our paying customer better. Either by saving time or optimizing workflow?
Will it potentially bring the same category of clients onboard or is it a one-time unique feature.
Is this along the line of our product direction?
In the end, we want to introduce new features that will make the product better. We don’t want to build new features just to close a single deal that has no relation to our paying customer.
“Our client can’t sign in, can you fix it?”
This usually happens for B2B enterprise software. Sales managers or someone in the management team tend to say it. The moment a paying client said he can’t sign in, they freak out. They immediately contact product managers or engineering manager and say we have a big problem.
Is that true? The truth is, we didn’t even have any useful information yet. In B2B, especially in a startup, when a paying client raises a problem, everyone jumps the gun.
If our team has proper automated testing that covers the sign-in process, 99% of the time, this is a false alarm. Most of the time, our paying client either forget their password or didn’t verify their account before the token expired. Paying enterprise clients preferred to report to their closest contact than clicking the “Forget Password” button.
The way to solve it?
Treat paying clients equally. Be nice, but ask them for more information. What is the error message? Have you tried the forget password? Did you verify your account? Which email address did you use?
Even if they are paying clients, you don’t want to interrupt the precious engineer’s time only to find out that it is exactly like above. This also guides the client to be more self-service. In the future, they would have tried out the other option first because they know you will be asking such questions.
At the end of the day, you can never solve a problem without understanding it first.
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