Here at Thynk, our entire team is customer-obsessed. One of our goals is to empower our customers to become customer-centric themselves. In a previous blog post, we explained how product-centric hotels often prioritize creating the “best possible” product above what their customer desires. When hotels are product-centric, they risk falling out of touch with their guests, leading to customer dissatisfaction and loss of revenue.
Customer-centric teams, on the other hand, focus on their customers' wants and needs and incorporate feedback into their offerings. We enable our customers to do this for their guests, but how does the Thynk product team do this? If not careful, product managers also run the risk of prioritizing the “best possible” product, with all the bells and whistles, rather than building what our customers actually need.
So how do we get feedback from our customers? We found ourselves turning to an idea from the Pragmatic Marketing framework: NIHITO or “Nothing Important Happens in the Office.”
It’s a simple reminder that often no amount of internal brainstorming or discussion will be as valuable as simply getting out of the, albeit virtual, office. For us, this means talking directly with our customers and community.
You can think of the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule when thinking about ways to solicit customer feedback. For many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. In product management, this means that the “loud 20%” are responsible for 80% of the requests and development. In product and hospitality alike, we should strive to hear more from that quiet 80% and create opportunities for them to speak freely.
Last year, we launched our signature “Thynk it Through” series. The idea is to bring together members of our community to “thynk” deeply with us. We’ve learned some important lessons in the process that we’d like to share.
4 valuable lessons we have learned about customer-centric product management
1. Pick a specific focus area and be the expert on it
For our first session, we focused on Packages. The session started by answering the question “What is a package?” While this may seem simple, it’s often helpful to start with a high-level overview. At the highest level, a package is a bundle of products and services that can be added directly to a booking and priced per person. Read more in our package overview.
Our customers shared a general understanding of packages but didn’t necessarily understand how Thynk could enable them to build and sell packages more effectively. As a product team, we needed to be the experts on exactly what our customers could do with packages. In preparation for the meeting, we went deep - updating our knowledge base to reflect product enhancements, creating demo scenarios, and clearly laying out the use cases that our technology supported at that time.
2. Ask your customers about their unique use cases
As Thynk continues to expand globally, it’s important to call out how our understanding of offerings like packages changes region by region. In our Thynk it Through session, we brought together our community across Europe and the United States. This connection allowed for a great discussion around both use cases and terminology for packages. By asking them directly about how they use packages, we created an opportunity for customers across the globe to share best practices and think creatively.
3. Be honest about where your technology is and where it’s going
While we would love to always say yes to our customers, the reality is that in software development, we often must deliver in phases and we can’t always know every potential use case when developing new features.
A key goal for us was to understand what things our customers needed us to support in the future. By establishing ourselves as the experts first, we could confidently answer their questions on what was possible and get the valuable feedback needed to think about what features to add to our roadmap.
4. Share decisions and involve your customers throughout the development lifecycle
Based on direct feedback from attendees of our first session, we were able to identify the following improvements:
- Allow admins to set a minimum and maximum number of people for the package to be used
- Allow for pricing within a package that is per person as well as a flat fee
- Include labor fees such as staffing charges as a standard package component
We also heard about some interesting new use cases, including the ability to have a more generic package that is sold across multiple properties. While the first set of changes are straightforward enhancements to the way packages currently work, this new use case would require some deeper exploration.
In our second Thynk it Through, we spent some time sharing what we added to the roadmap (those improvements listed above) as well as what we haven't yet added and why. By communicating our decisions transparently, we create a tighter feedback loop with our community.
At our upcoming Thynk it Through on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, we plan to use the lessons learned in our last two sessions, learn about our customer’s unique business needs, provide transparency into what we are working on, and share updates on what we’ve delivered. In particular, we’ll be focusing on some big changes we are releasing related to naming conventions and user experience.