The Trampoline Experience – Don’t Jump To Conclusions!

How Product Managers Give Feedback

Level 1 – Unsolicited Feedback

  • I gave it a negative review online

Level 2 – Solicited Feedback

  • If someone asked me about it, I would roll my eyes and say “Man what a pain in the neck to get that thing together, don’t buy one”

Level 3 – Observed Feedback (if you were watching me do it):

  • It came in four huge heavy boxes that were hard to move to the back yard
  • Screws were unlabeled so some were used in the wrong place causing rework
  • Had to take some pieces apart and put back together again due to poor instructions
  • I spent more than an hour just putting up the safety net because it was too small
  • A 7 and 9-year-old were trying to jump on it while I was trying to build it
  • Total build time was greater than 4 hours

This is the true story of a 41-year-old man working to build a trampoline in his back yard for his family on a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon. He didn’t walk into the scenario thinking it would be easy, quite the contrary actually, and this experience did not disappoint at all. By the time he was done, only bitter thoughts and a negative visceral reaction arose when someone would ask him about the trampoline.

Meanwhile, as he rested his back and wondered why his legs hurt so bad from the stretching and bending to put it together, he noticed that his children were jumping on it, and it seemed to be working well. They looked safe, and happy and content and jumping up and down without any risk of falling off. With all this said…he had a bad experience and even went as far as to write a poor review online for the product.

This is not an unusual situation, our actual products may work well, but all of those surrounding factors could be leading to a horrible experience and therefore the product itself may be unsuccessful in the marketplace. As Product Managers or Product Marketing Managers it is our job to fully understand the situation or problem, and to do so we often need to make sure we are getting all 3 levels of customer feedback (Unsolicited, Solicited, Observed).

As you can see from the 3 levels listed above, by only getting level 1 or level 2 or even just assuming changes need to be made to our products while sitting in the comfort of our office, we may not get to the true issues, problems, or needs. Without this information how could we be sure we are making the adjustment(s) to our product that is best for our customer.

For example, if someone just saw 1 star out of 5, maybe they would assume that the trampoline itself was the issue and that it didn’t work well so they changed the frame or mat, and not changing the real issue of building issues.

By looking deeper into all three levels of feedback you can see what the true issues are, learn details about them, and often help the customers solve problems they didn’t even know that had.   This, in turn, will help you launch better products that are focused on the needs of the customers.

Collecting market insights and truly understanding the customer, industry, and competition is a critical part of solving the needs of our customers. If it is something that you are interested in learning more about how to do effectively, please contact us about our Market Insights workshop so we can help you and your teams dig deeper to uncover the true needs of your customers.   If you want to hear more details on this user story, and many others, visit us on YouTube and watch “Away from My Desk with James Luizzi.”

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