The role of discovery in product stewardship: why understanding failure is critical in 2022

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The past two years have been a testing ground for the value of the customer experience for brands. Whether it’s designing D2C proposals from scratch, moving sales and service to online channels, creating contactless experiences, or offering more flexibility in execution.

Many companies had to quickly make some pretty obvious operational changes in 2020, but beyond that, how can brands prioritize their investments?

This question goes to the heart of why product stewardship, knowledge and testing play such a crucial role in determining growth in 2022. Because investing in UX and CX won’t always be a source. differentiation or a sure-fire method to increase sales.

Good Growth CEO James Hammersley explains this dynamic in commerce:

“Often the buying journeys, experiences, payment options, etc. are the same across brands. Worse yet, many brands invest to stay still – not realizing that they are not moving forward. We call it Red Queen (Alice in Wonderland) Syndrome.

“The tests allow you to prove whether you are moving forward or not. Therefore, to gain market share and increase margin, it is essential that brands innovate and test quickly and at scale, based on responding to customer failures.

In fact, Hammersley cites “understanding failure” as the biggest opportunity for brands in 2022. “It’s the single most important metric to drive growth in margins and market share, regardless of channel. . And the testing will help any brand understand why failure is happening.

So, how should brands think about product management in 2022? In a recent Good Growth podcast, ITV Product Manager Stuart Jones spoke about his role in creating a better video-on-demand (VoD) service and addressed the issues of discovery, delivery and Design.

Here are some highlights. You can listen to the full episode here.

Product managers are not design stewards

Product management is a pragmatic discipline that is constrained by prioritization.

“What I don’t do as a product manager,” Jones says, “and I don’t think a product manager should, is almost be the custodian of design and experience. “

He continues: “We must encourage this way of working together. And we have to try to make sure that the decisions we make are based on prioritizing the business and trying to ensure that what the customer gets is what they need, but also fits the bill. this business goal.

James Hammersley of Good Growth simply says that “[Product and Insight teams] should prioritize the product roadmap over lost revenue and meet all brand and technology constraints.

Jones provides a little more context for this perspective to ITV by discussing the role of advertising in the VoD service.

“A customer will always say he wants fewer ads and he’ll always say he doesn’t want to be interrupted by [subscription] upsell, and it’s one of those key business drivers for us.

“How do we try to integrate this experience? Jones asks. “One of the levers that I am not pulling is the volume of advertising that we have, because there is substantial revenue related to the distribution of advertising on the platform. But the levers I have are … [making] Make sure the customer experience is good and as smooth as possible, to make advertising a tolerable, if not enjoyable, experience for people as well.

Customer research must be backed by data

There have been a lot of changes in consumer behavior during the pandemic, especially new demographics moving online and a perceived degradation in loyalty amid increased competition.

Therefore, knowing your customer is vitally important in 2022. “We have a fantastic customer research team,” says Jones of ITV. “I’ve worked in so many companies that talk about customer research but don’t follow through or see the value of it.”

But, as Jones mentioned earlier, understanding customer motivations and acting on them can be tricky. “One of the cultural changes I tried to make,” he says, “was [in] using that research… It’s one thing to ask customers and get their feedback, it’s another to put that back into the experience. And it wasn’t necessarily that he was being ignored, it was more, maybe the questions we were asking were general questions and what we needed to do was focus on specific questions on certain things.

Jones quotes the old adage “the customer will tell you one thing but do something different” and says: “[in our research], we had to try to figure out if the pain point was real and genuine – and the data allowed us to do that.

Product managers must learn to balance delivery and discovery

What is clear from listening to Jones is that it can be difficult to balance delivery and discovery in a product management role, and this is where external input can be invaluable.

“I think the biggest change I was trying to make was to try to move product management away from product ownership. Product ownership is a role you play within the Scrum team and it should not be exhaustive. … the time that the Product Owner spent on delivery [or] with a delivery mindset meant that there was no opportunity to reflect on the relationship between customer and data.

The job of product management, Jones says, is where discovery takes place. He and his team “tried to shift the balance” and go from one day per week discovery and 4 days per week delivery, conversely, “plus a 70:30 split in favor of discovery work. “.

Can experimentation be outsourced?

Jones quotes his and ITV’s work with Good Growth, saying, “Bringing subject matter expertise and maturity around experimentation has allowed us to learn… but on the other hand to understand the value of ‘experimentation and testing that we were doing as well, because it’s back to that point where, if we don’t have time to focus on experimentation and testing, then we really don’t have time to ” assess what is important to our business and to our customers.

The types of tests that ITV and Good Growth have been working on include experimenting with the positioning and upselling messaging experience within the ITV Hub platform, as well as interpreting the success of tests around discovering content on the platform (such as how content “rails” or “shelves” are presented) in a way that controls the popularity of a particular show.

But, of course, there is an art in collaborating with design offices on this kind of work, to obtain the right level of integration.

Although Jones says that Good Growth “increased our knowledge in the field” and contributed to “cognitive ability”, he adds that “one thing I wanted not to do was say”the experimentation is done by someone else ‘. “

To do this, Jones explains, “outsource one of the fundamental knowledge a product management team has, which is experimentation and knowing the pass or fail rates of something.” What he sought to achieve with Good Growth was a partnership where his own teams were not necessarily “consumed by an experiment or a test”. Jones adds that this approach has “really helped us, culturally and tactically.”

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