Writing by Peter Hilton

Open product discovery

Redefining continuous discovery for product managers with NEXT 2023-12-12 #product #discovery

Frank McKenna

Current applications of AI typically produce the same results as existing solutions with less effort, often trading convenience for quality. But product innovation gets more interesting when, instead of refining solutions, it redefines problems. For example, consider how a product discovery tool might go beyond automating product managers’ existing approach.

Too few customer conversations

In Continuous Discovery Habits, Teresa Torres recommends regularly talking to customers. However, products with relatively few customers, as in B2B, make this harder to achieve. Torres expands on the reality of customer interaction frequency for many product managers in One Knight in Product episode 71:

Not everybody gets to weekly… I will be up front about that. I encourage everybody to try to get to weekly, and the vast majority of teams can get to weekly.

Indeed, as a B2B SaaS product manager, I’ve experienced the challenge of weekly customer calls requiring a lot of work to arrange, or even finding that difficult to achieve. If I had an AI magic wand, I wouldn’t use it to write product documents or analyse customer sentiment. I would wield it to get more customer calls.

NEXT - product discovery platform

I recently spoke to NEXT founder and CEO Moodi Mahmoudi about how NEXT supports product discovery.

The recordings library page in Next: meeting video thumbnails

NEXT automatically transcribes and analyses customer call recordings, so product managers can use its AI chat interface to ask questions about what customers say.

I first thought that NEXT solves a problem I don’t have: capturing dozens of monthly customer calls, and synthesising more content than one person can assimilate. Instead, working with relatively few customers gave me plenty of time to conduct and analyse customer interviews. But then Moodi said one thing to redefine the problem.

Open customer conversations

Moodi explained that with NEXT, you don’t have to upload every video manually, and posed the following question.

What if you got the CEO to connect the company’s Zoom account to NEXT, so it automatically got every customer conversation?

Even with few customers, access to recordings of every regular meeting they have with the Customer Success team would already provide a lot of product feedback. Of course, only remote-first companies that use Zoom for customer calls could do this.

First, this could remove the need for Customer Success to summarise their meetings and hold weekly meetings with the product team, while providing direct access to what customers actually say. With NEXT, product managers could instead generate short compilation videos to summarise evidence of common customer needs.

Second, the total daily duration of meetings with customers (and prospects) may exceed what a product manager could watch in a day. Here, the automatic transcription analysis becomes important, with its capability to summarise the day’s or week’s meetings. Moodi added that this even works in multiple languages, mentioning a Swiss customer whose English-speaking product team can use the chat interface to research customer calls in French and German.

This kind of open product discovery would perhaps reduce manual work for the customer success team as much as for product managers, if not completely change their roles. But in the end, this article’s speculation all depends on a variation of Moodi’s rhetorical question: would the CEO actually share all customer calls with the product team?

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