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As a Product Manager, how do you sift between the loudest customers wants and what’s best for all customers?

Customer request vs. Customer request

This is one of the most important skills to have as a software product manager – Prioritisation. It is never easy as you will have pressing items coming from various sources, and most of them expect it to be incorporated in the product’s next release.

But we know that the capacity & resources to accomplish things are limited. Hence, the need to prioritise. In your case, when you have a set of features/requests coming from your loudest customers and there is another set of features that you believe will serve more customers, then you can use the following prioritisation method that I suggest to my clients:

1. Make the list of features, and if possible, put the count against – how many users have been asking for that feature

2. Bring out the Key results area & Objective that you had set for this quarter. For e.g., if your goal was to improve the ‘Search’ experience in this quarter, then the features related to the ‘Registration’ journey would be a low priority. Hence, knowing your goal for this quarter is very important. It acts as your GPS. In case you don’t have it, discuss amongst your team what do you guys want to achieve as a goal.

3. Sometimes, companies have a clear mandate of serving those clients that bring in 80% of the revenue, or the Top 20% revenue-generating clients get the preference. This is mostly in the case of B2B companies, where you get very specific product feature requests. If that is your goal, then that makes prioritisation easy – you make those requests a high priority.

4. If you have no mandate, no goal, then in that case I can suggest you to measure the requests by 2 parameters: How important it is to the all customers, and how much important it is for the product (based on the vision you have for your product). Those features that rank high for both of these parameters, you rank them at the top and continue to do so for all features, and you will have a prioritised list.

If you have followed Step#4 above, then it doesn’t matter ‘How loud’ was the request.

Note: You must have a reason behind the prioritisation – either Top revenue-generating companies get preference, Or, the Goal you had set for this quarter, Or, based on the importance to all customers & product itself. You must have a reason that drives the prioritisation and decision-making. This is important for the following reasons:

1. This will help you communicate the changes with stakeholders & clients with confidence.

2. You will be able to offer some solid reasoning to your sales or customer services team who actually face the client.

3. You will be consistent with the prioritisation & decision-making.

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Onkar Singh Lohtham

Founder & CPO | Lead Trainer | Digital Skills Mastery

Onkar is one of the most innovative and experienced agile practitioners and trainers in the world. He has helped organisations build £multi-million products/services & win awards. His passion lies in training on ‘how to’ implement unique road map & commercial strategies, manage complex backlogs and lead multi-product agile teams from inception to launch.

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