Product managers are often driven by results. Focusing on an outcomes-based roadmap can unlock a product’s potential and success, and this comes from taking on a customer-first mindset. What are some ways to incorporate the customer throughout the product process? Leveraging a few examples, Mastercard VP of Product Management Dana Rosenberg shares how to be customer-first and drive tangible, metric-based product outcomes.
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On starting with the customers
Dana Rosenberg spoke about her experience as a product manager for Mastercard Connect, the b2b website the company’s customers use to service their businesses, from seeing invoices to managing disputes. 7,000 companies from all over the world use the platform to access more than 160 tools and reports. All of these users have different journeys and different jobs to do on the platform. For the product team, this meant there was a lot to learn.
Rosenberg says, “When I got here, it felt a little bit like this: every time someone said that they had something to do, we would go swarm the soccer field and run after the project. So someone said something needed to be fixed, and we’d all run this way. And someone would say something else, and we’d all run that way. And it didn’t feel like we were getting anything done.
“And by the end of this journey that we went through together, it felt like we were working like a team. And we were kicking goals and just really making an outcome on behalf of our customers, and an impact, which is what we wanted. But it took a lot of work to get there. And the first thing we had to do was start thinking about those customers, thinking about all those different companies and users that were coming to us day after day with a job to get done.
“And so what we did was we had to take a step back and say, Okay, we have a lot of work to get done. We work on this website that people rely on every day. But how do we start to understand those customers? How do we start to understand those different customer segments, what they’re trying to do, and what their problems are. And we took a step back. And a tool that we used during this time was something called a journey taxonomy map, where we took the quantitative data we had available and the qualitative data by talking to certain customer segments that we had prioritized, to figure out what were their most frequent touch points? Where were those areas of opportunity where things were just so painful, but they were doing so often? If we touch those points, we could really make a difference.
“And by getting to know the customers, by getting to know their stories, their pain points, we were able to prioritize and say, We believe this is going to move the needle. And most importantly, when all those different groups were coming to us saying, Go do this or go do that, it gave us the voice and the power to say ‘no’ with the reasoning of the data, and most importantly, the reasoning of the customer voice and how we were going to help them.
“So it was about those customers first.”
On capability teams
After putting those customers first, the work wasn’t done. The next step was determining how to organize the teams.
“And then what we did is we organized our teams around capabilities. We had about 10 different Scrum teams. And before they were just kind of working on services and things. And instead of just kind of giving them a random assortment of work or a project, we said, you own this service or this capability.
“So for example, there was one group that worked on sign in every day. And their job was to make sure that sign in failures were reduced on the platform. So that drove ownership around our key objectives. And most importantly, we defined success outcomes, what were the metrics, we were going to try and drive to change the outcomes for our customers.
“And so as we did this, and we changed the mindset, again, it was starting with the customers organizing around those capabilities. So giving teams clear focus, and then focusing on the metrics and then inspecting ourselves as a team, we would come together through what we called rhythm of the business activities to facilitate discussion around how we were actually moving the metrics and all these key areas.
“And so that was really our process, and it allowed us to move from the kids on the soccer field just swarming to kicking goals.”
On big rocks
The team then created a visual roadmap to figure out where they wanted to go next. Once Connect became a simple, unified and reliable experience, then what? In the future, the team wanted to be intuitive, timely, global, multi-lingual, more effective, and insightful, able to give recommendations to customers.
Rosenberg says, “Most importantly, we drove ourselves by Northstar OSAT (Overall Customer Satisfaction). So how do we drive the satisfaction of our customers? We set a goal there of what we wanted to move, and then we organized our teams around these big rocks. So the capability teams were then laddered up against these big rocks.
“And for us they were:
- Safety and soundness. So how do we improve the operational health and security of our platform?
- The second part of it was connect to the future, we wanted to make it easy for other teams within Mastercard, to build applications for our customers to use and publish into our website.
- We wanted to improve the top customer journey. So how do we make things faster? How do we improve time on task for different things that our customers are doing throughout the experience?
- And we wanted to make sure that we were building the foundation for the future, that we were supporting market expansion. If we were going to get global in year two, what do we have to do in year one?
“And so these big rocks were key and part of the inspection mechanism of whether we were driving them forward or not to show that we were making progress.”