Advisor Case Study: Letting Customers Speak

Ben Foster June 7 2021

The following is adapted from Build What Matters.

One of my most important responsibilities at GoCanvas was being the author and steward of the product vision and strategy. After I had worked to get executive alignment, it was time to present the package to the whole company. The team had done a great deal of customer discovery, quantitative research, stakeholder interviews, and more, but there was still a risk that employees who were unaware of those efforts might think we were operating out of an ivory tower. Rather than bore them with a long preamble about our process, I decided to let the customers simply speak for themselves.

One of our research activities was recording interviews with customers, including both those that we won and those that we lost. I went through all of those interviews and cut audio highlights for each. Then I spliced them together into “chapters,” so we could hear our customers and non-customers tell us what they were looking for at each stage of their journey, points at which they felt engaged, and areas where we fell flat. I edited intentionally but honestly so that even quotes that countered my point of view were included.

Instead of presenting slides, I just played five-minute audio segments where multiple customers explained their key outcomes, what they wanted in an ideal customer journey, and gaps in the GoCanvas product experience—all in their own words. All I did was take notes on a whiteboard and summarize after each chapter.

At the end, I took a photo of the whiteboard and then shared a pre-written document that mirrored the whiteboard notes. This became part one of a three-part series of presentations I gave at GoCanvas to generate enthusiasm for our product vision and strategy, and it built enormous trust in product management from all corners of the company.

Are you trying to create a strong customer journey vision? Click here to get our free step-by-step guide to crafting a compelling vision for your product.

Written by Ben Foster

Ben is a co-founder of Prodify and Principal Product Advisor / Coach. In his career, he has been the Chief Product Officer at WHOOP and GoCanvas, the VP of Product & Design at Opower (which went public in 2014) and previously worked for Marty Cagan at eBay.

Get New Content