We look forward to presenting Transform 2022 in person again on July 19th and virtually from July 20th to 28th. Join us for insightful conversations and exciting networking opportunities. Register today!
When I started the social media app Skout in 2007, I was blown away by our traction. We had over 50 million installs worldwide, had raised over $22 million from Andreessen Horowitz, and there were hundreds of incredibly talented contributors making it all possible.
Despite our success and unbeknownst to us, there were many 1-star reviews in Polish on the Google Play app store that gave our Android app in a language we didn’t understand. This small fraction of the entire Skout community was frustrated and told us exactly what we needed to know about the app being unusable in Poland, but we didn’t listen.
The great cost of a tiny mistake
As it turned out, one tiny mistake cost us $500,000 in lost revenue and lasted more than six months. Nobody in Poland could use the Skout Android app for half a year because our data parser couldn’t identify the location of our Polish customers – which forced the app to crash every time it was opened.
We ran into our parser issue by accident, and it took us 10 minutes to fix it. It took us another six months to recoup our lost sales.
We didn’t have any tools or processes to help us understand the potential impact of this failure, and the reality is most organizations find themselves in a similar situation. Being a good product leader means knowing what information should inform your decision-making and how to use that information to set priorities and team direction.
During this process, I learned three important lessons about building technical products that prioritize users.
1. Create strong and constant feedback loops.
The people building your product should be in constant communication with the people who interact with customers, such as B. Sales and Customer Success. Every organization should ensure systems are in place that allow the two teams to collaborate and share information consistently. This feedback loop should also be formalized and documented to make it easier for everyone in the organization to understand and act on key learnings.
2. Foster a culture of data-driven decision-making.
While “trusting your gut” has its place in business, data is critical when prioritizing product decisions, adding new features, or fixing bugs. Humans have inherent biases that can lead to decisions that can affect product usage, customer satisfaction, and even sales (as seen in my case). For example, a US-based team might prioritize Apple over Android because it’s a platform that’s more popular in the US — even if the company is developing a global product with an international customer base. Data-driven decision-making eliminates all opinions and ensures the best for the business comes first.
3. Make sure you’re tracking and measuring the right indicators.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by data or unsure which data sources are actually most important to the product and business. The good news is that there is an entity that tests your product every day for every update in every language and configuration and on every platform and device. This entity is your user base and they tell you what works and what doesn’t. So take the time to understand what your users are telling you to ensure consistent measurement. From reviews on the App Store or Google Play, customer support tickets in Zendesk, and social media interactions on Twitter or Reddit — it’s possible to paint a clear picture of which features customers need and which bugs should be prioritized by looking these attributes considered together.
In today’s fast-paced development environment, with so many solutions to choose from, making sure you understand what your users are telling you in real-time, in any language, and then acting on that information is crucial.
Christian Wiklund is the founder and CEO of unitQ.
data decision maker
Welcome to the VentureBeat community!
DataDecisionMakers is the place where experts, including technical staff, working with data can share data-related insights and innovations.
If you want to read about innovative ideas and up-to-date information, best practices and the future of data and data technology, visit us at DataDecisionMakers.
You might even consider contributing an article of your own!
Read more from DataDecisionMakers