Ideba provides win/loss, CSAT, and voice of the customer research for clients. Additionally, our creative group is tapped to refine organizations’ product roadmap. This provides an opportunity to examine the nexus between customer needs, and companies’ ability to communicate, via roadmap, the ways in which they plan to meet those needs.
Unfortunately, the two often fail to overlap.
Many of the issues can be traced to the name “product roadmap.” Many organizations read that as an opportunity to describe technical changes and updates. While that may be valuable information for the technical implementors, it will not answer client concerns about real-world benefits or meet the decision-maker’s need to ensure maximum value for the dollar before renewal.
We have worked with many clients to help them design product roadmaps that speak not just to technical updates, but to overall value and benefits. One way to do this is remove the focus on “product.” For companies with complex, multi-part software offerings, customers often don’t even know the exact name of the module that performs action X. They just know that it’s difficult to perform that action and want assurances that improved ease-of-use is on the menu.
Our VOC work consistently demonstrates customer desire for consistent roadmap information. They want to know what’s on the horizon, but most of all, they want to know that their needs will be met, and their concerns addressed. Doing this demands moving beyond technical product descriptions. It means tying product updates and changes directly to the benefit they provide, the time or cost savings they can engender, and the improved user experiences that they can produce.
It also means providing this information in a user-friendly format and in direct, jargon-free language. An Excel spreadsheet or a variation thereon doesn’t cut it. Nor does a pile of acronyms familiar only to internal teams and diehard fanboys. View your product portfolio as your customers do. Rarely do they see it as a siloed set of distinct products. Functionality often ebbs and flows between products and product modules. Identify the need behind the products – how they are actually used – and use your roadmap to highlight ways in which that user experience will be improved.
The roadmap is not a technical document for specialist consumption. It is a statement of intent. It is an opportunity to communicate:
- To your customers that you understand and plan to address their needs
- To customers’ C-suites that you continue to provide maximum value
- To internal audiences the organization’s areas of focus
Product Roadmap 2.0 is an evolution from a limited technical document aimed at a rarified market, to a major corporate statement with multiple audiences that helps define how customers view your culture of service, your ability to meet their needs, and your ability to communicate on their terms.
-Leonce Gaiter, VP of Content and Strategy