Shoppers think they are getting more value with every new feature, customers using products value usability over features. What do you choose as a Product Manager – entice prospects or make current customers happy?
We have a dilemma.
Prospects (the people you’re selling to) base purchasing decisions on perceived value, typically interpreted as “more is better.”
Customers (people using your product) make customer satisfaction opinions based on usability, where “less is better.”
How does a product manager serve both sides of the dilemma? Entice the prospects and satisfy the existing customers?
How do you as a shopper make decisions based on what’s good for your long term satisfaction rather than your miss-perception of value = more?
Virtually every software product development cycle I’ve been a part of in the last two decades has centered on a single topic; add more features. Our efforts resulted in two outcomes; short term sales (the sales team could continue to say “yes” to more features), and a long term decrease in our product’s overall usability.
Every single feature you add to a product, even if nobody ever uses it, adds complexity and could potentially get in the way of someone trying to accomplish something. This is why documentation and online help inside software applications has ballooned to 1,000s of pages. Who has the time to commit to this level of learning curve? What product is worth this much work?
This isn’t an easy dilemma.
I have some suggestions. Instead of thinking about your product or service offering through the single lens of “add more” let’s add two more views into how to make your product/service more appealing.
What could you re-factor, clean up; improve, simplify to decrease the complexity of your product?
What features could you outright remove?
Blasphemy – I know, removing features, are you crazy Jennifer? Do you want me to put that in a press release? We removed 40 features! Back in 2006 Mercedes-Benz removed more than 600 features from its cars because they realized more was getting in the way of what was really important.
I believe we are seeing a shift in buying habits; no doubt that Apple has been a huge influencer in this area. Usability is coming into the buying discussion. I recently bought a heart rate monitor; I searched Google for “simplest heart rate monitor” and found one that bragged about how little it did! I had two goals in my purchase, buy a heart rate monitor that monitored my heart rate accurately during exercise and did not require me to read a user’s manual to figure it out. Here’s the irony, I would have paid MORE for it to do less in a more usable fashion.
Apple has spoiled us with beautifully usable products; I want Apple to design the following: home/office phone, alarm clock, car, bike computer, home alarm system, camera, essentially every electronic device I use. I don’t own a TV, if Apple comes out with one I might have to join the rest of America and plug in.