How to be a Great Product Manager - Collaboration is Key

Written by 
Deirdre Mahon

Working cohesively with other teams and departments in your company will not only help a SaaS product’s development, but the overall growth of the organization as well.

Download the whitepaper, Five Key Reasons Product Managers Need to Consult with Customer Success.

At any SaaS company, communication silos create problems. To be as effective as possible, different individuals and different teams need to reach across their lanes and communicate with one another as much as possible.

Product managers especially need to collaborate with customer success teams. When developing and optimizing SaaS apps throughout the user journey, both teams need one another. Product needs to know what is and isn’t resonating with customers. CS needs to know what product has planned, how they intend to address issues, and so on. 

When it comes to the question of how to be a good product manager, collaboration with success is key. We dedicated a whole whitepaper to this topic because we are often asked about it; here are some key takeaways.

Why Product and Customer Success Teams Often Don’t Talk

Customer success and product management are both central to operations at any SaaS company. They have a number of overlapping focus areas and concerns, which they might talk about during weekly business meetings or QBRs. However, most of the time, both teams look at different success metrics or operate at different altitudes. 

Product teams are:

  • Too busy building features and adding more benefits to the product or service in question.
  • Stuck on feature requests from clients or users, often focusing on what the majority wants.
  • Focused on deciding what to build, when to do it, and at what cost.

On the other hand, success teams are usually:

  • Focused on how the product is used or adopted, and perhaps finding workarounds on certain tasks if only to get the job done.
  • Hands-on when it comes to helping a customer account, even to the point of doing regular check-ins and building relationships with customers.
  • The “middle-men” between product and customers, especially when they have feature requests. 

These differences of perspective and focus mean that, often, the two teams don’t communicate very much. This can feel efficient and streamlined; in fact, it is a problem.  

The Challenges Faced by Product Managers

One of the challenges faced by product managers and their team is not being able to provide certain features or services that users request. 

Whether it’s lack of resources, or time, product managers will need to prioritize other functionalities in their roadmap. When a customer success team asks about a certain potential feature update, product managers are forced to respond with: 

“Sorry, that’s not in our roadmap yet,” or “I don’t think we can deliver that feature this quarter,” or “We don’t have the resources to pull that off yet.” Perhaps positioned with a softer landing.

Another challenge faced by product managers is understanding the customers’ voice. It’s not as easy as the success teams saying, “Client X wants these baked into the product…” or “User Y wants this button on the left-hand side of the screen.” They need to understand data points that only success teams, who spend most of their time getting to know customers, can answer:

This is why collaboration with the customer success department is key to becoming a good product manager. 

The image below depicts how the cycle should work. As product focuses on rolling out the right features based on the roadmap, they collaborate with the success team to better understand onboarding and any friction. The feedback cycle continues as the team iterates and improves. With shared insights everyone is on the same page.

Five Ways on How to Be a Good Product Manager

  1. Update yourself regularly with customer response insights from Success. 

It is vital that you and your team are aware as early as possible about how users are utilizing/adopting your product. It’ll help you make adjustments for a more general release or work out some kinks before moving on to the next item in your roadmap.

  1. Meet with the success team regularly to discuss “friction points.”

It’s important to discuss in great detail where customers are experiencing friction and why. Joint meetings with Product and Success allows both parties to go over these issues and find answers.

  1. Utilize customer insights from NPS and in-app surveys.

When it comes to how to improve as a product manager, a key method is leveraging NPS and in-app surveys. These will help you gather insights around real-world use cases. 

  1. Cultivate a strong relationship with your promoters.

Not only does your NPS help you with new use cases, it also helps you gauge your product’s market performance and reception. Moreover, with the help of Success, you can build relationships with your promoters and test out new features, pricing, and packaging. The insights you’ll get from them will be an absolute gold mine.

  1. Establish a shared metric that everyone can get behind on. 

A shared metric orients everyone to focus on the most significant aspects of the business, guiding everyone in the company to work hand in hand to achieve the goal for better outcomes. It then becomes a simple equation: Product teams listening to the customers’ voice equals a more advanced, competitive product. 

This is what did for their company, when they decided to track their weekly active users (WAU) as a shared metric. It helped them break down the silos between their product and success teams.

Collaboration is key to how to be a good product manager. Working cohesively with other teams and departments in your company will not only help a SaaS product’s development, but the overall growth of the organization as well.

If you’d like to find out first-hand how Simpo helps you become more collaborative, feel free to request a demo here, or try Simpo for free now.