Product Development

Product Questions to Ask Customers Across the Product Life Cycle

September 17, 2019

In product development, timing is everything. The type of customer-driven product questions you ask, when you ask them, and the kind of customer feedback you use to answer them all influence the insights you pull in and how they’ll ultimately serve you.

The objectives of each individual phase of the product life cycle require specific types of customer feedback to validate and drive decision-making. Within the world of user research, there are methods for collecting feedback that support each phase with unique customer insights.

We’ve included examples of objectives, research types, and methods for every phase of your product’s lifetime below.

Product Questions to Ask Customers Across the Product Life Cycle

When you need a product concept or feature idea

Product Questions You Need to Answer: Why is (or isn’t) this feature or concept useful? What problems could it solve? What’s interesting (or not) about the concept or idea?

Your Objective: Identify what your target market needs

Recommended Research Type: Market Research
Market Research is most commonly associated with the early stages of the product life cycle as an aid in developing and testing product concepts. It captures consumer insights and delivers data that steers product concepts and overall strategy.

Feedback Collection Methods

  • Secondary research
  • Ethnographic studies
  • Surveys

When you have a prototype or mockup

Product Questions You Need to Answer: Does this design make sense? Is it easy or difficult to navigate? How are people going to use it?

Your Objective: Evaluate how (and how easily) your audience will be able to use your product

Recommended Research Type: User Experience (UX) Research
UX Research is typically used during the concept and design phases to shape user interactions with your product. It improves usability and improves user stories by letting people interact with the product interface and share their attitudes and experiences.

Feedback Collection Methods

  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Usability studies

When you have a working software build

Product Questions You Need to Answer: Does this work in the real world? Are customers satisfied or dissatisfied with this product or feature? How does this build compare to other builds?

Your Objective: Validate customer satisfaction and the stability of your product

Recommended Research Type: Customer Validation (CV)
CV data helps you deliver a better experience by highlighting how to further improve your product or update before it reaches the market. It starts as your product gets close to launch and continues on an ongoing basis throughout the rest of your product’s lifetime.

Feedback Collection Methods

  • Alpha tests
  • Beta tests
  • Delta tests

When your product or update is live

Product Questions You Need to Answer: How are customers getting to the product? What is the buying experience like? What questions are coming into customer support and how are they being addressed?

Your Objective: Identify product usage and user behaviors

Recommended Research Type: Customer Experience (CX) Research
CX Research looks at all of the touchpoints a consumer has with your product or brand and attempts to optimize that experience to build loyalty. It generally begins once a product or brand is in front of its target market. It has a broader focus than other disciplines and includes customer touchpoints such as advertising campaigns, sales interactions, customer service, and overall brand consistency.

Feedback Collection Methods

  • Product usage analytics
  • Support feedback
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Reviews

When you’re looking for feedback to steer future releases

Product Questions You Need to Answer: What needs to be changed or updated? What is working or not working? What are your customers asking for?

Your Objective: Enhance your product roadmap

Recommended Research Type: Market Research, Customer Validation
Market Research in this context means looking at how your product is performing as it matures, as well as the market trends related to its success. It’s paired with CV, which runs parallel to agile development and continuous delivery cycles so you can validate new features and experiences with customers before each new release.

Feedback Collection Methods

  • Delta tests
  • Insight panels
  • Customer advisory boards

Don’t stop here. Download the Product Managers’ Guide to Understanding Customers and explore key customer feedback collection methods that drive success throughout your product’s lifetime.

Get the Product Managers’ Guide to Understanding Customers

Download the PM's Guide to Understanding Users
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