How often have your customers asked you for functionality that you already have in your product – functionality you have had in the product for a year or two? I have had this happen often enough in my career. There are two causes for this
1) You forgot to tell the customer
2) Your product is too big that new features are no longer discoverable
I want to spend more time on 1) than 2) because it is the easier problem to solve and I think in my experience more prevalent. You as a product manager identified the customer problems to solve, worked with engineering to come up with the most innovative and easy way to solve the problems, your team is delighted, but all of this equates to naught, if you do not take the initiative to let the world know that you have solved the problem. Often times, organizations get caught up in drumming about this new feature/product with prospective customers (thanks to the zealous salesmen who are looking for the first available opportunity to demo the new wares to prospects), that often educating the existing customers is forgotten.
This is more of an internal organization problem than an external one. It can be easily solved by first educating your internal stakeholders (training, sales, marketing etc.) on the benefits of the new widget, what problems it solves and for which customer profiles. If you do this internal stakeholder education well and carve out the go to market launch plan, then this becomes an easier and accomplishable task. And trust me, only if you do this well, can your external customers know about what you have done for them.
On problem 2) – this one is a harder problem to solve especially for feature rich products such as MS Excel, Oracle etc. Simplification is not as easy to do as it may seem. I don’t know the answer to this problem, in my past experience, we tried many solutions to solve this problem, but nothing I would say worked tremendously well. It was a tough nut to crack.
Thoughts? Comments based on your experience?
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Image: Courtesy of Connecticut State Board of Education