How customer service can teach you about your product

Service requests are a constant stream of valuable user feedback. Actual users who are trying out your product are reaching out – a perfect time to start a dialog.

Last time I suggest that user feedback should be the main driver of product decisions. In this post I go over on the process I developed at Martial Arts on Rails for guiding the direction of the product based on user feedback, and specifically using customer service opportunities as the main source of that feedback.

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Why We Use User Feedback As The Main Driver Of Product Decisions

In my previous post I talked how my mindset for processing user feedback changed after launching a SaaS product as a single founder. In this post I’d like to talk about the process I developed for interacting with users and using feedback to guide product decisions.

It might seem controversial (or not), but I’d claim that user feedback rather than data should be your main source for understanding how to improve your product.

I’ve worked on teams and seen many companies in which analytics data is the main driver for product decisions. The problem with this approach is that analytics frame product issues from the perspective of the developers / business, instead of the perspective of the user / customer.

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Writing on product management and user experience design

It’s been over 4 years since I published my last article on this blog, a post-mortem of my previous startup which was winding down at the time.

Since then I’ve been working on growing Martial Arts on Rails, a SaaS product which provides online management software for gyms and martial arts schools. As a single founder this time, I took much more (= all) responsibility with regards to user / customer interaction and managing the product lifecycle than I ever did previously as the technical lead at several companies.

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Binpress Postmortem

For over 5 years, my life revolved around growing my previous company, Binpress. In the months since we found a buyer for it, I’ve had some time to think about why it failed. Now that we’ve sold the company, I wanted to reflect on the journey my co-founder and I had with the company, from struggling to get users, getting to $30k in monthly revenue, raising a seed round and eventually selling the company on a down note.
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Network

Silicon valley is generally considered by most as the best place to build a technology company, due to the large concentration of talent and capital, unmatched anywhere else in the world at that scale. But it’s the valley’s dirty little secret that it’s really the network of people that make it all happen.

Every successful person in the SV tech scene is highly connected to talent and capital through their network. It is that network that makes seemingly random M&A deals, capital investments or recruiting top talent happen on a daily basis. And it’s that network, more than anything else, that makes Silicon Valley so special for building high-growth companies.

Why a network is important

I’ve recently found myself quite often advising founders who are new to the valley or are thinking of moving there. The most common questions generally revolve around how to raise money. I’ve already collected my thoughts and experience on the topic of raising a seed round, so I have a few prepared answers, but in person I’m definitely putting much more emphasis on network building compared to everything else.
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