Service Centric Product Management

by Dominic Gadoury

As a product management leader, I am reminded daily that our decisions and actions can make people happy, sad, and/or frustrated. That includes of course the staff we work with directly, but more importantly those who use the products our teams build.

As a consumer, I recently had a user experience with friction where I did not expect it. I noticed a cancellation charge on my Zip Car account that I didn’t expect. I’m a fan of Zip Car and think they have a great product – easy to order cars, all inclusive pricing, etc. When I tried to figure out how to get assistance with the charge I assumed that I would be able to use the app and send a case with my question. Nope – no such option. I then did a Google search looking for the support email address, which I did find and so I sent my question and account details. Within minutes a response came back saying the account was no longer active. I finally resorted to the only other option I could find, making a phone call. I was able to resolve the issue over the phone, but the call took nearly 15 minutes from start to finish. So, in total is took me close to 40 minutes to address one pretty simple question on my account (and yes, I did read the FAQ section as a part of this). As a consumer, it now gives me pause when making future car rental choices.

This same notion is backed up by plenty of good research. Some examples include:

1. Price is not the main reason for customer churn, it is actually due to the overall poor quality of customer service – Accenture global customer satisfaction report 2008.

2. A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than price- or product-related – Bain & Company.

3. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% – Marketing Metrics.

As Product Managers, I challenge us all to think about how our products and service experiences are critical for business success. Let’s continue to think about the end user from soup to nuts. Let’s reduce the friction and make everyone as happy as possible.

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