Snapchat Product Lead on Product Management (Part 3)

Unlike other services, product management teams who build platforms are faced with unique customer expectations. Furthermore, the creation of an MVP has completely different implications.

Back to the idea of creating mission-critical products, your MVP essentially needs to be stable enough to be a V1-level product. In addition, you need MVPs for more than just your platform product. For example, you need MVPs for service and support documentation that your customers will need to get the most out of your product.

As a result, it’s important to understand how to engage with platform customers to provide an optimal experience. First, platform customers are naturally more demanding than other user bases. For instance, they expect outstanding service on a massive scale and will threaten to leave if you don’t deliver. Furthermore, your customers will all have different expectations for capabilities and services depending on the focus of their business.

With this, it becomes very difficult to set your strategic direction. For example, I have sat through many off-site meetings and tried to come up with our optimal customer profile. Then, you get a phone call from a vendor who is your lowest priority in terms of customer archetype. If the vendor says, “I’ll invest millions in your product if you do XYZ,” it’s pretty difficult to say no.

The best way to set up your product management team for success is to find customers who share similar goals.

With this, you can identify common solutions that are shareable with multiple partners with minimal customization. Furthermore, you want partners who can evolve and adapt with you over time. You want to share the journey together and be on the same page as opposed to having competing interests when it comes time to update the product.

Finally, keep in mind that a partner can take you down if you’re not careful. Ultimately, they are demanding partners who will try to extract as much value out of your system as possible. For instance, your search capacity or API capabilities need to be optimized for maximum bandwidth. In the end, being on the same page and exercising empathy with these demanding customers will set up your platform for success.


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