The push and pull of building products that people love.

One of the hardest challenges founders encounter while building their product is rationalizing customer feedback.

As a founder, you have a specific vision (and even taste!) about how exactly your product should solve a given problem. For ex: If your product's mission is to fix email and help every customer hit inbox zero daily, you might propose a revolutionary way of organizing them. Like a Trello board or a 4x4 grid based on some filters/rules users can edit. Now this might be a compelling/innovative way of doing things from your POV.

But as soon as you start talking to customers, they will likely have an equally strong POV. Often times, it could be different from how you wanted to implement your vision. It can often seem like they are being irrational in the way they are seeing your solution. Regardless, it is key to collect, understand and rationalize their feedback. Because ultimately, you are solving their problem or you'd be building a personal project.

At the same time, you can't afford to be steered entirely based on their suggestions too. Customers are not in the 24x7 mindset of innovation (unlike you!) around your product. They are mostly focused on their personal convenience. Your job is to carefully vet each feedback element from them and make sure it is not blocking an innovation to arise.

Tomasz Tunguz, a leading VC shared an interesting perspective about this topic recently. In his blog post about the types of product features, he divided them into 3 types: MMR, Neutralizers and Differentiators.

He further explains the classification as:

"MMRs are minimum market requirements; basic features that every customer expects and demands. Neutralizers mitigate competitive threat. Differentiators are your startup’s competitive advantage."

He rightfully brings to light a harsh reality that customers don't care about your product roadmap and/or competitive advantage that will benefit your company in the long run. It is your job. However, you should also ensure they are getting their needs met. It is a delicate dance and needs founders to be collaborate with customers than just act in silos. 

What else? What are your 2 cents on building products that people love?

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash