Curaytor Case Study: Becoming Product-Driven

Sara Zalowitz November 15 2021

At Prodify, we work with a variety of clients who are looking to make the transition to being product-driven instead of sales-driven. The reason our clients are looking to make this transition is they want to accelerate growth by serving the needs of many customers as opposed to building one-off requests for individual customers. The transition is not one that happens overnight, as it requires both an organizational and cultural shift within the company. In order to make the transition approachable, we start by understanding where our clients stand against the 5 traits of a product-driven company by having them fill out our product-driven scorecard. From there, we help them identify actionable steps to take to make real traction.

Today, we will focus on trait #1: Product-driven companies put product and UX teams closest to the customer. We interviewed one of our clients: Lisa Palombo, Product Manager at Curaytor. We asked her how leaning in closer to their customer transformed the way they do business. 

Thoughts from Lisa

1. What caused you to realize that the product team needed to talk more directly with customers?

Lisa: We really should have realized it a lot sooner than we did, but two key metrics come to mind that we should have been paying closer attention to: support tickets and adoption rate.   

We constantly had an influx of support tickets coming in asking for help and direction on how to complete basic tasks and workflows within our tech. It was clear that our UX was missing the mark for our users. We needed to fully understand WHAT part of the process, exactly, was tripping people up and triggering the moment where they needed to reach out to support for help. Where did they get stuck? Was it a CTA in the wrong place? Was it hidden? Was the language we used unclear? Was there a key action they were expecting to see, that they didn't? When did they abandon? Why? 

Then as far as adoption rate, we started tracking product usage and saw that most new customers were logging in only a few times per month.

We realized we had a huge problem that would affect the health of our business if we didn't start understanding why our customers struggled with our tech so much.

2. When you started to have product talk directly to customers, what impact did you start to see?

Lisa: There were benefits both internally and externally. 

Internally, we exposed UX and engineers to conversations with our customers. Now, they fully understood who they were building for and witnessed first hand what parts our customers found frustrating. The customers' experience is what drives our product teams to do their best work, and involving them in these critical conversations with business context (not just product requirements) is one of the best decisions we've ever made as a product org.

Externally, our customers began to appreciate our dedication to making their lives easier. They willingly and actively participated in alpha and beta testing which re-instilled their confidence in us. We started to notice that the reviews we were getting and the conversations happening amidst the community were surrounding the newer features we were releasing with a heavier focus on UX. Our NPS scores were on the rise in the months following as well.

Since talking to customers and taking UX more seriously, we sent out a survey to gauge how satisfied our customers were with the latest releases, and we received a CSAT score of 93%.

This was a huge accomplishment for a team that was used to receiving survey responses that involved words like "buggy" "janky" "hard to use." Talking to customers openly and informally has also sparked some creative ideas and solutions that we may have never considered had we not spoken to them.


3. How do you plan to continue having the product team engage with customers on an ongoing basis? 

Lisa: Some of the best advice I've received from my coach at Prodify is to write a simple script with open ended (NOT leading) questions to ensure you're gaining answers to questions that will help drive meaningful decisions. The conversations can be informal and packed with value, which I think a lot of product managers misunderstand. It doesn't have to be a super formal interview - A quick 30-45 minute chat will do the trick!

Our team is also in the process of reading Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres in an effort to improve on this exact process in the next 3-6 months. One of her first tips is to remove all of the barriers that stop you from talking to customers. For example, get it on your calendar with a confirmation from the customer. It's harder to cancel and reschedule with that customer than it is to just take the 45 minutes to talk to them. It sounds simple, but this really is an area that is so easily and frequently neglected by product managers.

Closing Thoughts

I love hearing the simple tips that Lisa shared to make sure the product team continues to engage with customers. It is really powerful to remind yourself and your product team that talking with customers does not have to be overwhelming. Over time, it becomes a natural part of the process and you will start to hear other team members expect it. As a product leader, I love when engineering asks product managers "What did the customer say?". That is when you know you have shown the organization the value of hearing directly from customers. 

Thank you to Lisa for taking the time to share her learnings!

Are you looking to drive the shift in your organization to be more product-driven? Check out Prodify’s Guide to Becoming Product-Driven or contact us to discuss how we can help.

Written by Sara Zalowitz

Sara is a Senior Product Advisor and Coach with Prodify. Previously, she was Chief Product Officer at Rent the Runway, VP of Digital Innovation at Marriott, VP of Product at WeddingWire and Barnes and Noble, and the Director of Product at Home Shopping Network.

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