On a recent engagement, we were afforded the opportunity to assist a client with building a customer-facing digital product. Given the intense competition in the market and the unique demands of their customers, it was critical that we design and build something with an incredible and highly tailored user experience. This is no small task. There are many ways to approach a lofty goal like this, but in this instance, we chose to pull from the product manager’s playbook and travel to the stores where our product was used. Our plan was to ask questions, watch the product in action, and do some good old-fashioned discovery.

Discovery is a process that helps digital product teams refine and prioritize their ideas by developing a deep understanding of their users’ problems and needs. While certainly not a new concept in the product management space, discovery is extremely relevant today because of how effective it is for learning what customers really want. Through direct engagement with our client’s user base, we were able to make data-driven decisions about the product design which enabled targeted user experience (UX) goals.

In this instance, discovery meant grabbing a name tag, driving to the stores where the product was being used, and interjecting ourselves into the process. This allowed us to observe the user’s entire workflow including the time before and after the user interacted with the product. Here are some things we learned from the discovery process:

Segment your Users Correctly

Making sense of a massive user base can be hard, but it becomes easier if you focus your efforts. People are inherently different and so are their needs related to your product, so why would you ask them all the same questions? Narrowing your attention to specific user subsets and catering questions to them makes your discovery conversations more valuable. The answers you receive will show you how to customize your product and address specific customer needs. You might be missing the mark if you treat all your users the same.

Embrace your Opportunities

It is important to create an environment where a user doesn’t feel like he or she is hurting your feelings with critical feedback. They need to trust that you are open to feedback and want to know all the problems with your product. Like you have never been more stoked about something quite like trashing your own work. Those conversations are the most exciting for product managers. Why is that? Critical feedback shows you the problems to solve and how to make your product better.

Open-ended questions are your best friend. We gained valuable insight out of four small words: “What sucks about this?” The answers lead us directly to the problems we were solving.

Empathy is Everything

Our product was designed with a potential negative result. At first, this negative result seemed small from a customer perspective. Through the discovery process, we were able to experience that negative result for ourselves. Guess what? It really sucked. We felt all the emotions that went along with our product and channeled the empathy gained into creating a positive experience.

Our goal was to increase customer satisfaction and translate it into adoption. Discovery enabled us to do that while having fun along the way. Want to boost the adoption of your digital product? Get out there! We would love to hang with you when you do.

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