The most valuable asset to a company is its customers. More often than not, when PMs help build products, the customer persona plays an important role throughout the process, from ideation to iteration. How can product leaders gain valuable feedback from customers? Noom Product Lead Britt Myers shares how he uses various strategies to interview customers to help improve the product lifecycle.
Noom is a weight loss product that leverages the psychology of weight loss and users’ relationships with food. Noom Mood is a new product not focused on weight loss but rather on mental wellness and helping people improve their ability to cope and respond to stress and anxiety. Since Noom is so personalized, user feedback is very important – and that is what Britt Myers is focused on in this talk.
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On finding your user
If you want to get good user feedback, you’ve got to find your users. That seems pretty obvious. But how to find those users? And how to get in touch with them? Common PM strategies include looking across the user journey, from new users to those who have canceled. Another tactic is targeting based on some type of user action, such as the purchase of a particular upsell.
But the user feedback targeting Britt finds most fruitful is based on survey responses. In particular, he uses the “how disappointed?” survey developed by Superhuman CEO Rahul Vohra.
“One of the first things I did was try to figure out, who are the users today? And what are their needs? And what are they getting out of the product today? How are their needs being met today? Or not?
“So I started by sending an open ended survey to existing subscribers. I tagged and analyzed the results, identified users to interview based on these results, and then conducted a whole series of open ended interviews. And then that informed the product strategy and roadmap in the prioritization.
“The survey I use is the ‘how disappointed?’ survey. It’s a great integrated approach. So it asks these four questions: How disappointed would you be if you can no longer use Noom Mood. So you either choose Very Disappointed, Somewhat Disappointed, or Not Disappointed At All. And then the next few questions are totally open ended, like, what types of people most benefit from Noom Mood? What is the main benefit you receive? And then how can we improve it?
“And it’s fairly straightforward. I love the strategy. There’s so many things you could do to improve your product, but you’ve got to focus. And these responses help you focus. You want to understand what your biggest fans – the Very Disappointed people – like most about the product, and then understand how to address improvements to win over ambivalent users, which are the Somewhat Disappointed users.
“And the way you do this is by looking at each segment, what they like most and what they want to see improved. And this can help to give you a very actionable focus list of where to direct your efforts. It’s a lot more focused than looking at people that don’t like your product, but would like it if X or Y, because you’re so far from winning them over to begin with.”
On principles for conducting user interviews
Many words have been written on how to conduct interviews. The fact is, interviewing is just one of those skills that most people need a lot of practice in order to get better. In his work researching user feedback with Noom Mood, Britt has conducted dozens of interviews. He offers the following specific advice: show lots of empathy, use a script, and ask open ended questions.
“Make some kind of personal connection. This should not be cheesy or too specific. But I try to infuse it through the whole conversation, in my tone of voice and my responses to reflect that I have a lot of empathy. These are people that are using this product because they have a lot of stress and anxiety in their lives. And I respect that, and the challenges that they have.
“You have to have some kind of script going in. And it should evolve over time: the first script will not be as good as your last script. You’ll learn the kind of phrasing of the questions that work best, but you want to be very open ended and not lead at all, not offer any kind of solutions in the way that you ask questions.
“That is really critical. Do not ask yes or no questions, or even just questions like, ‘Do you like this feature or not?’ I try to give them a lot of latitude to say how they feel and really try to double click on areas where I feel like I’m getting to the heart of their needs.
“And it takes time. You have to be patient within an interview. It may be pretty rote until minute 24. It just takes time for people to open up to you, and that’s why I try to infuse ongoing empathy through the entire conversation.”
On being a chameleon
After getting this user feedback, the PM then needs to integrate the qualitative data and use it to inform the quantitative side. Britt says this synthesis is important, but so is absorbing the needs of the users he has spoken with. In that way, he says his role is to be like a chameleon.
“Whatever the particular project is, you’ve got to synthesize all these findings. You can’t take any one user’s reflection as truth, even though you can go so deep with any one user. And then from there, make it actionable in some way, whether that be iterating on a particular experiment, or updating the prioritization.
“But I also absorb their needs. I really try to be a chameleon to my user base, to whatever degree that I can. Absorb what their feelings and needs are, and infuse that throughout the design process, and throughout the prioritization process. Product is just a very nuanced field, and to whatever degree I can sort of, through osmosis, absorb and then use that to better the product, and see it through their eyes, on a more regular basis, I try to do.”
About the speaker
An experienced and creative entrepreneur and product leader, Britt Myers has developed an impressive resume of business successes in media and technology production. In 2014, Myers partnered with Stephanie Dua as co-founder and Chief Product Officer of ed-tech startup Homer. Homer is the #1 Learn-To-Read program powered by your child’s interests; an educational app for iOS and web that teaches a child to read and develops crucial early childhood cognitive skills.