“Under-scale your product so to not look to automate everything all at once but instead to be your product as much as possible.”Samuel Hulick, UserOnboard Founder

What does ‘close to the customer’ mean in the context of a technology product?

Watching users’ every moves? Waiting by the phone? Popping up chat windows left and right?

Early on with a new product, creating customer proximity means lowering the friction for customers to give you feedback.

This might mean:

  • integrating a chat tool, and being responsive to user feedback—better yet, integrating feedback forms directly in the product;
  • sending a manual email asking personalized questions;
  • manually configuring and setting up user accounts;
  • making yourself available to jump on calls;
  • doing product demos with new sign-ups;
  • calling users; or
  • any mix of the above.
Solving Product – Creating Customer Proximity
Example of an Integrated Feedback Form

Don’t look to automate everything all at once. Try to be your product as much as possible.

As Samuel Hulick says: “The more you insert yourself into the value offering process, the more that you can just intuitively pick that up by dealing with people directly and adapting from there.”

If users think that your emails, onboarding, and chat messages are all automated, they’ll be less interested in giving you feedback. You have to do the things that don’t scale, first.

Spend as much time as you can offering the product more as a personal service. This will help you to learn what works, and what doesn’t.

How RightMessage Created Customer Proximity

This is part of the approach Brennan Dunn and his team at RightMessage, a website personalization platform, took at launch.

They intentionally left off a lot of the onboarding. When people signed up, they invited them to jump on a screen share during which they helped as consultants. Users were in the driver’s seat. Brennan and his team were there to lessen the load.

They wanted to do what no software onboarding could ever do: be a human being who sees this stuff day in and day out, who tells prospects, based on their unique circumstances, what they should be doing.

Although they faced resistance at first, the businesses they wanted to land—those that wanted real results and weren’t tire kickers—understood that this process was better for them.

Although Brennan and his team knew that their conversion would drop once they began automating their onboarding process, this experience taught them a lot.

You can hear Brennan explain right below:

Focus on Creating Value for Your Early Customers

Look for opportunities to get close to your early customers. Focus on understanding:

  1. What they want to be different in their lives or their work? and
  2. How you can achieve that difference for them, via your product or the services around your product.

By focusing on delivering those outcomes, regardless of what your product is designed to do, you’ll be able to learn how to make your product a better fit in people’s lives, for their needs.

Once you understand why users feel restless before signing up, and you know what experience they hope to get after sign-up, you will be in a better position to automate customer interactions while maintaining customer proximity.

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This post in an excerpt from Solving Product. If you enjoyed the content, you'll love the new book. You can download the first 3 chapters here →.

Categories: Common Challenges