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Keeping the product promise

posted on 27 Jun 2020

In my last post about the JTBD framework, I wrote about how customers don’t “buy” products. Instead they “hire” products or services to help them overcome an obstacle and better their lives. Products that deliver on this promise of upgrading the customers’ lives are loved whereas the ones failing to do so are dumped.

Before we look at what a product promise is, let’s take a moment to mull over the concept of Whole Product Offering. The 280 group defines Whole Product Offering as -

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A concept built around the idea that customers buy your product not only because of their intrinsic features and their associated customer benefits but also because of the additional aspects that have nothing to do with your product’s core features.

The intrinsic features and associated benefits that the above definition refers to forms what we call the Core Product whereas the additional aspects like purchase and onboarding process, service, support and documentation etc are called the Augmented Product. The core features and the augmented aspects together constitute a “Product”. This is very much in alignment with the “broadest definition of product” that Eric Ries prefers to use in his book - The Lean Startup -

Anything customers experience from their interactions with a company should be considered part of that company’s product.

Along with the core product, the augmented product gives companies a chance to deliver on their product promise of providing customers a hassle-free way of getting a job done and upgrading their lives.

A product promise is an implicit assurance that a company is making to its customers about the experience and benefits they’ll gain from purchasing or using it’s product- both the core as well as the augmented.

If you’ve ever bought a product that advertised great benefits and looked like it is going to solve your problems, yet you were disappointed at the lack of proper customer service and support, you’ve experienced a broken product promise. If you’ve ransacked the documentation with the hope of resolving an issue or getting clarification and faced a dead end, you’ve experienced a broken product promise. On the other hand, if you’ve marvelled at how simple the onboarding for a product was or if an interaction with customer support made your admiration for the product grow, you’ve experienced a product promise kept. My experience with Stripe has been one such product promise kept experience. In the 5+ years of using Stripe, I’ve never had to reach out to their customer support with a complaint or an issue. Right from “getting started” to “deprecations”, Stripe has ensured that the product promise is kept at all the touch points and customers have a stellar experience.

If you take a look at the other successful products around, you’ll notice that these products keep the promise of making their customer’s lives easier at all the touchpoints. These products ensure that every touchpoint is an opportunity to uncover a new source of value for its customers. They deeply care about the impact the interaction at every touchpoint will have on the customers and strive towards making as fulfilling for the customer as possible.

Owning the product promise as a PM

Since Product managers are expected to own the overall success of the product , it is more likely that the onus of making sure that the product promise is kept lies with the Product Manager. Given that a product manager has a holistic view of the whole product to offer, product managers have to make sure that they make the augmented product an important part of the product strategy. As a PM, one needs to be aware of the Whole Product Offering and the disconnects between customer experience and the product promise. The extent to which these disconnects are resolved define whether the product promise is kept or broken.

Many times, PMs may not have full control over the company strategy or departments owning the augmented product . But PMs should certainly possess the ability to influence the people who are responsible and hold them accountable for delivering the product promise on the augmented product front. It should be a part of PM’s manifesto to ensure that the Whole Product Offering is compelling and consistent at all touchpoints.

So, does your product keep its promise?

Until next time…

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Categories:  #Product-Management