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You and your consulting and/or support team

Watch Alex Cowan discuss the relationship between a product manager and the consulting and support teams.
In this video, I’m going to show you how to create a robust productive interface with your consulting and support teams, an interface that allows you to continually improve that overall user experience, that overall customer journey.
So we have our solution. And that includes both our core product as well as everything else that it takes to make that core product work. So that could be third party products. And it includes among other things, consulting and support. One thing that we don’t want to do is not learn from this and fold it back into the core product. And this is something that good product managers are really skillful at, they have interfaces with their consulting and their support teams that not only allow those folks to do their jobs better but they’re continually folding learnings in to the core product.
Not that this stuff was ever not important but with the advent of SAS and apps and things that people pay for monthly. The importance of not just acquiring a customer but keeping them engaged is becoming increasingly important and these are critical vehicles to help you be successful in that. The customer journey is a great place to think about where we’re using consulting and support. Are those the right places and how are we learning from that to make core product better. Let’s say certain dips consistently happen. Well, maybe if we can predict that, that is a good place to engage a consulting product. Just meaning some kind of a paid engagement beyond the core product.
So, for example, with Enterprise software, there might be a team that helps you go in and get the software working. With IKEA, it might be somebody that comes to your house and builds the furniture for you. For a site like Shopify that provides e-commerce sites for small businesses. It might be a market place of rated and vetted third parties that can help you get your e-commerce site up. So by consulting, I mean just sort of any paid engagement probably with your own company in this case, but that doesn’t always need to be the case.
One thing that you want to avoid is the case that you become kind of captive to the consulting business because it’s growing. So, this is our consultant let’s say and here they love how hard it
is to use the product because it’s making their business boom, well that’s not good.
We want to make the consulting business work if it’s important but if we are a product company, we want to use the core product to improve the user experience foremost and then we want to use consulting as a way to supplement that and learn. A failure mode that you want to avoid with support is that support is swamped and have too many calls. Well, you want to be constantly looking at how to reduce those calls by making the core product better, by making the core experience better. And that requires a strong interface with your support team.
And if you’ve ever been on a support call, you probably know that customers who called, they usually have a pretty reasonable issue. Either some is overtly broken, or at least kind of hard to understand. They don’t want to call support. If you haven’t done a support call, I would encourage you to give it a try. It’s really illuminating, especially if you’re the product manager of the product in question. If the support people are equipped with the right playbook and the right scripts to help the customer through and they’re confident that they’re going to get a good outcome for the customer. And then if they can’t, they have the support to get it then things are going to be good.
They’re going to help the customer, they’re going to have their mojo, they’re going to be nice and they’re going to be engaged. If they feel like they don’t know what to do and the customer is just going to be made at them this can be really going to a downward spiral where support doesn’t feel confident and they give them customer maybe not on purpose but some kind of run around or they just generally can’t help them, things get bad. This is something you should deal with as a product manager in terms of the core product and making sure that the infrastructure is there to help your support team and you’ll have a support manager that’ll help you with that.
But ultimately it’s going to be a question about the core product and the core user experience. The real trick though is making sure that there’s a fourth step here where you’re asking, why did each of these support calls happen? And what could we have done with the core user experience to make it better? What can we test so that we can get rid of those support calls altogether? Because your customer’s not happy when they call support. Support is a cost center and you want to make sure that you’re continually learning and making the product better. And that’s how you get a really robust interface with your consulting and support team.
So, help these folks do their job better, help them understand the customer journey and where they fit into it. And most of all create an interchange between those two things, so that you’re constantly learning from your collaborators in these areas and you’re making the core user experience better and better.

In this video, Alex introduces the role of the consulting team, or the support team, within an organization. He stresses that a support team isn’t there to bolster a weak product, but should provide feedback for customer improvement. Have you worked in a job where you have had to answer support calls? Were you able to take your experience and improve a product or service?

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Digital Product Management

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