8 Product Management Tools for the Customer-Obsessed PM (for 2021)

January 5, 2021

A recent study by Deloitte shows that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that aren’t.

But what does customer-centricity look like?

A customer-centric company fosters a positive experience and relationship with its customers, from start to finish, and aligns their product offering with what the customer needs.

To foster a positive relationship with your customer, you need tools that give you insights into customer behavior and need and that allow you to effectively communicate with your audience.

In other words, product managers need to arm themselves with a customer-focused product stack. Here’s a roundup of our favorites for 2021.

Amplitude: Visualize user behavior

Amplitude is an analytics tool that shows you how your users interact with your product. It allows you to visualize customer journeys from end to end, identify critical moments of drop-off and conversion, and spot bugs and anomalies to optimize your product experience based on how your users behave within your product.

The Amplitude dashboard gives you an overview of key user analytics.

Amplitude differentiates itself with its Product Intelligence features. Whereas many product analytics tools track and report surface-level insights like clicks and pageviews, Amplitude’s Intelligence platforms provide deeper, more targeted behavioral reports. This way, you gain insight into the context and intent behind user decisions, helping you iterate your product based on their root needs and behaviors.

Another major benefit of Amplitude is its segmentation tool. Amplitude can automatically create user groups and personas based on behaviors at key moments. This allows you to zoom in and work with the specific rather than the general to make targeted, high-impact changes.

Amplitude’s suite of features is flexible and customizable, which means product teams can tune out nonessential noise and focus on the most important signals for their product.

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Learn about the  UserLeap + Amplitude integration, and hear how Opendoor sped up experimentation and drove product growth by combining qualitative and quantitative analytics: Watch Now

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Confluence: Come together (to help your customers)

Confluence is a web-based shared workspace and collaboration software that helps teams working remotely share ideas, collaborate, and track progress on product launches. It’s designed by Australian software company Atlassian, which also makes Jira and Trello.

Confluence dashboard where you can create spaces and invite teammates to collaborate.

Confluence keeps  your team members aligned on product and company goals. The shared workspace keeps your company’s information in one place to help you better serve your customers. It saves you time otherwise spent digging through email chains or waiting for a team member in a different time zone to wake up, so you can get up-to-date information. The information you need will always be available, which helps every product launch stay on task and on target.

Using a shared, collaborative workspace like Confluence also creates a single source of truth and prevents outdated information or incomplete files from causing issues in your product launch down the line. Plus, shared workspaces prevent knowledge silos: you can make sure that members of all teams have access to relevant files and can contribute their knowledge on every project instantly.

Confluence is also designed with remote teams in mind, which makes it especially invaluable during the COVID-19 crisis.

UserLeap: Get insights at key moments

UserLeap is a continuous research platform that uses micro-surveys delivered at key moments in-product to give you insights into customer choices at critical points in their user journey.

Knowing what your customer wants is the key to creating an optimal user experience for them, every time. UserLeap takes the guesswork out of product management by allowing you to create bite-sized, in-product surveys triggered at key moments. This way, your customers can provide in-the-moment insight about why they make certain decisions, what’s missing from the experience, etc.

These low-effort micro-surveys have higher response rates than traditional user surveys, and the data they collect is available faster: product managers can input the code into their app and start collecting responses within a matter of minutes. Plus, with dozens of prewritten survey templates, product teams have immediate access to expert-written survey packages that collect user data to help PMs improve the customer journey, develop better features, etc.

Perhaps the most unique feature — especially for product teams with limited time and/or user research experience — is that all the collected insights are analyzed and prioritized by AI and expert user researchers. What does that look like? Instead of sifting through user data manually, product managers get an actionable list of recommendations based on that data, which basically serves as a premade checklist drawn directly from your customer feedback.

Appcues: Get your message across

Appcues helps product managers publish beautiful and personalized in-app messages in minutes. It offers in-product messaging to help you communicate with your customers more effectively than through other channels.

You can create personalized onboarding experiences, targeted in-app messaging, feature announcements, and product tours, all without needing the help of your developers. You can also deliver notices right to client dashboards or build a complete messaging flow.

Creating a personalized in-app message in Appcues

It’s a great tool to drive feature adoption, add onboarding checklists, help customers solve queries within the app, and, overall, create better user experiences for your customers. Finally, you can track how the messaging is resonating with your customers through dashboard analytics and know exactly when to intervene with a human touchpoint.

Stream: Give your customers a voice

Stream offers enterprise-grade feed and chat APIs: its Feed API helps you build activity feeds in only a few hours, aggregate those feeds, customize feed order, and scale feeds easily.

But the product that’s truly customer-centric is its Chat API for custom messaging apps. With it, Stream allows you to offer in-app social messaging, add messaging to your livestreams, offer live chat support, and create a community for your users without having to waste valuable developer time creating your own chat solution.

Demo of Stream’s livestream Chat API.

Building an in-app community centered around your product can help increase engagement. But in-app messaging options need to include all of the features users have come to expect from top messaging apps, with things like link previews, GIFs, and emoticons. Building a messaging app that rivals leaders in the industry is labor-intensive and can keep developers from working on your core product. When you integrate Stream, you give customers options to chat and make sure that your own resources stay focused on building, improving, and delivering the best product possible.

Productboard: Let the customer lead the way

Productboard is a product management system that helps you gather customer feedback from many different sources, including emails, surveys, and chatbots, and consolidate it into a single repository.

Product managers can then sift through the data for insights about what customers are saying, identify trends in feedback, and use those insights to create a list of feature priorities. That priority list can help build a roadmap for your product that’s directly drawn from what the customer wants. Then, share it with your team to keep everyone on the same page.

You can also engage your customer community through Productboard’s public portal and use direct feedback to validate feature ideas and make announcements about your product. The permissions levels allow you to selectively share roadmaps and customer feedback, which help raise awareness throughout the company on specific feature issues or recurring customer requests.

Creating a roadmap with Productboard.

Looker: Connect to the cloud

Now part of Google Cloud, Looker is an enterprise business intelligence platform with robust data analytics. It’s a great tool to connect and visualize data across several sources, including Google Cloud, Azure, and AWS, and connects to several databases to generate powerful data modeling that your entire company can access.

It’s a bit more technical than some of the other  tools on our list and might be harder to use for employees who have no experience or background in data analytics; you need advanced JavaScript knowledge to create a custom dashboard, and users have flagged problems with lag when analyzing bigger data sets. Since it’s now part of the Google Cloud solution, it's a good option if you're already using Cloud services. It's also a good way to give your entire company access to the data they need to provide a top-notch customer experience.

Sorting and filtering data in Looker.

FullStory: Get the whole picture

FullStory is a digital analytics tool that shows you user behavior within your product. It tracks clicks and mouse movement, finds bugs and errors quickly, and analyzes your conversion metrics. You can also watch session replays to see how your customers interact with your site or app.

Session Replay and dev tools in FullStory.

Together, these features allow you to constantly monitor your website’s and app’s performance and keep it continually optimized for your users.

FullStory also collects data to automatically uncover issues that prevent users from converting and measures which issues have the most impact, making it easier to prioritize the improvements that matter most. Plus, FullStory is also great for collaboration: it integrates with tools like Jira and Slack, so you can work as a team to fix issues and prioritize important solutions.

Customer-centricity is an investment, not a cost

In 2019, PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey proposed a new customer-centric metric, ROX or “return on experience.” The report argued that since customers have so many options to choose from, investing significantly in delivering a quality customer experience is the best way for companies to set themselves apart.

Since COVID-19 has upended the business landscape, using the right product management tools is more important than ever. The cost of using your resources to build a customer-centric tech stack can be intimidating. But, in reality, using the right tools to create an optimal experience for your customers is a long-term investment in product growth.

Not only does investing in “ROX” keep customers happy and prevent churn, but it’s also the best way to make sure that the product you’re bringing to market is answering a real need and that your roadmap is aligned with what your customers want.

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