It’s an age-old adage that businesses swear by: “The customer is always right”. We all know it’s important to provide good quality products and great service if you want to keep your customers. But more recently, businesses have taken it a step further and have started to involve customers in the process of developing their products and services too. It makes sense, right?

One of the most important roles of a product manager is to align their products with the needs, demands, and feedback of customers. They’re called the customer’s advocates, because they incorporate their interactions with customers into the process of developing products for them. A product manager looks over the whole process of product development, including strategy, roadmap, development of the product, and its market launch.

And they need an effective toolkit to get it all done.

How Do Product Managers Build Successful Products?

Knowing your customers—who they are, their preferences, and their problems—is essential to building a successful product. It’s imperative to maintain a loyal consumer base and expand your business’ reach in today’s competitive market.

Thanks to modern technology, product managers have access to important intel and data that gives meaningful insights into customer behavior. With the help of exclusive and detailed consumer data, a product manager can optimize all the steps in a product’s lifecycle.

Tools Used by Product Managers

There are multiple tools available for each step in a product lifecycle. For example, tools like SurveyMonkey and Typeform help you ask customers questions about the product. Roadmapping software like ProductPlan helps product managers to build and share product roadmaps. Tools like Pendo and Amplitude help product managers gain insights into how visitors to your product website are engaging with your content and the product.

These valuable insights into consumer behavior enable product managers to produce and design tailor-made products.

Selecting the Right Tools to Optimize Your Product

Ironically, product managers often waste a lot of time finding the perfect app to save time. New software and tools are released every day, offering different services, plans, and specialized functions. It can become difficult to find the right software when you’re being overloaded with information.

Product managers already have enough important decisions to make, which is why we have curated a list of tools for customer interaction to make this process easier. Some of these tools are widely popular, while others are rare finds—but we’ve made sure that all of these are easily accessible.

Below is a list of software tools that you can use for varied types of customer interactions. We’ve also included a couple of additional recommended apps below each one, which can be used as alternatives to the described software.

  1. Hotjar: Company websites are the first point of contact for most customers these days (both loyal and prospective). So of course websites are an important place for customer interaction. Hotjar is an all-in-one analytics and feedback tool that provides insights into customer activity on your website. With multiple features like recordings, polls, and heatmaps, Hotjar allows you to peek inside the minds of your users. It also allows you to track and measure metrics like how much time a user spends on the website and what they click on. Hotjar provides plans for personal use, businesses and agencies, and a 15-day free trial period. The basic plan for business collects data from up to 20,000 page views per day for $99 a month. Also recommended – Clicktale, FullStory
  2. SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey is an immensely popular tool that allows you to create all kinds of surveys, polls, and quizzes. With an extremely easy do-it-yourself platform, you can make surveys for your target audience with the help of specialized settings and different templates. You can also use expert-written sample questions to get precision in your research. SurveyMonkey has a free basic plan and two categories for paid plans—Business and Personal. Starting with three users, the Team Advantage (Business Plan) is available for $28 per user per month. Also recommended – Typeform, Survicate
  3. Canny: Canny allows you to interact with your community of customers. It’s easy to use and presents feedback from consumers that can be used to create a roadmap for changes and innovations for your product. Multiple users can present their perspectives through details like what they like, what needs to be changed, and suggestions for further expectations. The community of users can upvote or downvote feedback. This way you can easily track what kind of product your customers want. You can also interact with them by telling them what you have planned or whether you need more feedback. Canny provides a 14-day free trial, after which you can subscribe to any of the three categories: Starter, Growth, and Business (no free trial). The basic Starter plan offers the core feature of tracking about 100 users for $50/month.Also recommended – UserVoice, Aha idea
  4. Intercom: Conversations form the basis of all good relationships, including the kind of relationship you want to keep with your customers. Intercom is a tool that helps you to form a personal connection with your customer so that you can build and retain their faith in the product. Through this tool, you can acquire customers with the help of bots and live chat, engaging with them via push messages and targeted emails. You can also provide customer support with an integrated helpdesk and live profiles available for each customer to solve any issue in a timely manner. Intercom has two types of plans: one for basic chat and messaging and the other for automation and messaging at scale. The cheapest program from the first type is Start, which is available at $39/month, including one seat and targeted outbound chat. In addition to this, you can choose optional add-ons like product tours, advanced lead generation, and advanced customer engagement starting at $199/month. Also recommended – Appcues, Crisp
  5. Validately: This is an end-to-end solution for gathering research on envisioning products and plans. Validately saves you time by allowing you to easily gather feedback on existing products and product plans. You can launch moderated or unmoderated studies with one click and recruit a pre-existing tester from the tool, or use your customers to test any kind of idea. You can screen or record test responses without any additional software or plugins, interacting via desktop and mobiles. In the end, Validately’s semi-automated tool will create a report of your study within minutes so you don’t have to painstakingly research the insights. You can sign in to Validately with your Google account and opt for the plan that suits you best from four options – Basic, Experience, Collaborate, and Enterprise. Starting from $299/month, the Basic plan includes up to 15 studies with one Researcher seat. Also recommended – Helio, Whatusersdo
  6. Retently: Retently is a Customer Experience Management platform that aims to create a sustainable Net Promoter Score (NPS) framework. Their interactive interface makes using the tool easy and enjoyable. You can track your business performance uniquely and interactively. You can also integrate Retently with a host of other product management tools to reap the benefits of expertise. NPS allows you to gauge customer satisfaction, as well as their loyalty to the product—which is a key concern for the growth of any business. Retently allows you to map and measure NPS in a specialized manner rather than using it as an add-on in wider tools. It also covers CSAT, CES, 5-star surveys, customer feedback, and reviews. This tool offers three types of plans – Essential, Professional and Enterprise, along with a 7-day free trial without any credit card requirement. The Essential plan is available for $199/month offering 10,000 monthly surveys and five user seats. Alternatively, you can sign up for a year and get a discount of 50% off the monthly price for all plans ($99/month, paid yearly). Also recommended – AskNicely, SurveyGizmo

Hopefully the above selection will help save you time and effort in deciding which products will help you and your business the most.

Learn Product Management with Thinkful

If you’re looking to gain a complete understanding of product management, Thinkful also offers a part-time Product Management course. Experienced instructors will take you through the fundamentals of product management over six months. You’ll learn how to think like a product manager, product discovery, building projects, and launching and iterating on products, among other things. At the end of the course, you’ll be ready to launch your career as a product manager with the help of a career adviser, along with rigorous interview prep. You’ll learn 100% online with 15-days of free, immediate access.

If you’re still deciding which career you’d like to pursue, Thinkful also provides specialized courses in software engineering, UX/UI design, data science, digital marketing, data analytics, and technical project management. Head on over to our blog for more inspiration.

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