Advice from a leader in technology product development

81% of shoppers surveyed say they want to make real connections with brands. But they also don’t want to be overwhelmed with brand communications. So, is there a way to fulfill their desires? Yes; you put customer needs first.

I reached out to Surbhi Gupta, a Silicon Valley-based digital product manager, who suggests the key to prioritizing your customers’ needs is to start from a user-centric stance.

Gupta, who has 18 years of experience in shaping and forecasting key industry trends for growing industry professionals, has helped many companies achieve success in delivering a leading product to their end users.

She recently spoke at the Product-Led Summit 2023 in Las Vegas, where she shared some discoveries made while working on a messaging product for a major brand. Nearly three-quarters of product users said they wanted real-time notifications as a way to connect with the brand. Yet, when they received notifications, they started leaving the product out of frustration. It was an obvious (and confusing) case of disconnection.

After approaching the problem from a user-centric perspective, Gupta and his colleagues found the underlying problem. Essentially, “real time” meant something different to users than it did to the business. Users only wanted really urgent messages right away, not all notifications right away. After discovering this issue, the company began using contextual signals to determine whether to send or delay a notification. The result was a much more valuable system built around user needs.

If your brand is struggling to put your customers’ needs first, try the following strategies. Each aims to further promote exchanges with your users.

1. Give consumers control over what they see.

Putting consumers in charge of their notification cadence can be a game-changer. Consider Meta’s revamped notification system that Gupta helped revise in 2022, for example. Consumers were given smart defaults and the power to opt out or opt in. They could also choose how often they were contacted.

This change has helped keep conversations flowing between brands and shoppers. And what made the premise work was that it was completely controlled by the users.

Users will only register if they feel the messages they receive have inherent value and importance.

With that in mind, explore your historical notification data. Which of your posts gets the most responses? Why do users like them over other posts? Are there ways to replicate their success with the verbiage of your future notifications? Be sure to do plenty of testing to figure out how to appeal to your target audience, so they don’t tune out.

2. Automate without losing authenticity or risking breaches.

It’s easier than ever to set your systems on autopilot. Many AI-powered systems promise out-of-the-box automation services. The only problem is that you don’t want your posts to seem too robotic or generalized. Remember that 70% of consumers expect personalization.

However, it can be difficult to know where personalization begins and privacy ends. In a recent survey, 95% of respondents said privacy was important to them. Therefore, it’s critical for brands like yours to understand how to leverage technology without violating customer ethical obligations.

This is an area to experiment and be practical in your approach. Be sure to follow privacy rules and best practices. Real-world example: Evaluate how you collect, store, and use data. You want to foster lasting, long-term and trusting relationships with customers. To do this, you will need to ensure that your automated systems are genuine without losing sight of the rights and needs of customers.

3. Adopt a philosophy of continuous improvement.

Systems that work well for you this year might not work as well next year. Resist getting too comfortable or you won’t be able to pivot quickly. The last thing you want is to lose ground to disruptive, forward-looking competitors with better setups.

Speaking to Gupta on the importance of continuous improvement, she said: “During my time at Tesla, I was able to revolutionize automotive sales with a contactless experience. This groundbreaking innovation adopted a direct-to-consumer model and gave customers the information they needed, minimizing the need for sales interaction. »

Because Gupta focused on customer needs, his projects were changing the industry. In fact, Tesla’s web app has generated more than $1 billion in revenue and saved hundreds of thousands of man-hours each quarter. And other product managers have been inspired to use this direct selling model.

By regularly reviewing reports and listening to consumer feedback, you can spot and remove pain points as they arise. Less friction means fewer user cancellations and better user-brand connection. It also creates new opportunities for innovation.

As part of this continuous improvement process, solicit customer feedback to inform your ever-evolving system roadmap. Allowing users to add their contribution shows that you care about their needs and wants. It also gives you an extra point of contact with your user base.

Getting notifications right can be tricky whether you’re a start-up or a legacy business. Either way, it’s worth the investment to give your notifications an overhaul. Just make sure your efforts start from a user-centric place for the most impact. If it works for highly respected product innovators like Gupta, it can work for your brand.

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