Philippe

Journey #003: Listen to your customers and tell a story

Philippe on

Storytelling the next step on our journey

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The last few days were a bit insane. I was caught between work, writing for my personal blog and having a nasty cold, which didn’t leave me with much time to continue my posts. However, I am back to it now and have a lot to talk about!

Building a product is not easy, building the right product is even harder. When you find the idea you want to implement, you have to do it step by step and defining that first step can be tricky. I am talking here about the MVP.

The MVP, most valuable product or minimum viable product, must contain the simplest experience that will bring the value the user was looking for. When I talk about value and experience, it can be tricky to understand the full meaning of it. When you think about a feature that fulfils a certain experience, you have the vision in mind. You want to build the feature that is the most efficient and practical to the user. Unfortunately, by doing so, you encounter two risks:

  • building the wrong thing based on your own assumptions
  • spending too much time to go to market and attract customers to your product.

This is why you have to think of the simplest way possible of doing this feature. What could be the raw version of it?

The MVP is there for you to try and test your ideas with real users. It’s a way to learn fast and fail fast without investing too much. The balance between too much and not enough is really thin. Basically just remember this and live by it: “1 is better than 0”.

You can suddenly start to build too much, lose focus and not get enough feedback from the potential users and end up building something they don’t want. This is why it’s an art.

This is why we use storytelling.

Storytelling the user-centric value

We spend a lot of time talking about the story of the user inside our app. We want to know everything they want to do, the value they want to find and finally the experience they expect.

The question is how do we do it?

Storytelling is the art of telling a story. When a story is explained in a book, all the scenery and landscapes are explained to the reader before the action takes place. You have to do the same work on your product or the experience you are building.

For example, nobody goes straight to their main course when they arrive in a restaurant. The first experience is straight outside the restaurant, then the lobby, the greetings until you get seated, and so on.

When creating a product, it’s the same thing. A lot of product managers are thinking about the features and the endpoint, the last thing a user is there to do. What they don’t see, is the experience overall and the fact that they are creating a lot of friction along the way. As a product manager, you have to learn how to tell the story and also what story you want to build. You have to be that storyteller.

Storytelling is the art of bringing your user on a journey. The journey you created for him. The journey which frees him from his pains.

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The best way to define the story you want to tell with your product is to go through it step by step. You have to write it down as a process.

You have to start first by writing the actual journey of your user. Then you can think about the ideal journey. What is the pain you want to get free your user of? Then, look at it again and again until you feel that you didn’t miss any part of your experience.

If we come back to our MVP discussion, all the experience and process can’t be built right away. Obviously, the experience of your story is too complex and there are too many implications. It’s okay though, you have to keep in mind that storytelling never stops. You always have to come back to it and build on it. If it doesn’t go in your story, maybe it doesn’t make sense for your product.

What is our story?

Our story is simple: we love technology, data and we love helping people. We think there are better ways to find the value for our users. This is our part.

What is the story for our customers?

When arriving on our website, we want them to feel our brand, to see our colours, to feel who we are and why we are creating ReponseIO. Then, we want them to connect and try our app in the easiest way they can. We want them to arrive in our app and have all the knowledge to answer their customers the best way and transform them into fans. So, for us, it means that they should understand easily how they are doing. They need to get easy access to the data which will help them react, listen and be better. 

We are here talking about likes, shares, mentions, direct messages from Twitter, comments on posts, all the notifications on Facebook pages, all the data coming accessible on different accounts, we even started to integrate comments and messages on Instagram.

The social media manager and freelancer, that we are building this product for, should be able to act on the data received right away and have all the options which are important at the moment. This is why there are two parts to the product, the analytics part and the inbox... We want to render the maximum value with these two tools. For example, we put the history of the message on the right of the screen.

Our goal was to simplify as much as we could the experience of the user. Saving time is one of our core values, so we banned all unnecessary clicks or screens.

We kept our mind focused to offer all of that in one screen.

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Where did this idea came from?

We wrote down the story of our users and for it, I interviewed some of my friends that were doing this job. My friend is responsible with her partner of 40 accounts of clients and she has to connect to each one of them to get the data from those accounts and answer all messages/comments.

She was wasting time valuable for her which block her to find new customers or doing something more creative. I wanted to do something about it.

Our story with her continue, we are still in beta and answering needs around analytics.

Your story can bring challenges

We had some long discussions about this dashboard, on this one single view. We had a big help from Yankee Media, our friends from Canada. They did an amazing job to help us find the right User Interface that fitted with our desires and User Experience.

As a product manager, I always have my ideas on the experience I want. I had gathered some feedback last year on this view. Building it though is completely different, you see the technical difficulties, the blockers, things that work and some that don’t.

There are still questions waiting to be answered, like “how are we going to display images? How is it going to work with Instagram? How is the history part going to work with long messages?”
These are questions that we are unable to answer right now, but we hope we will be able to in the near future.

Discovering more around our ideas

Another good thing that happened while we were working on this idea of one dashboard, is that we learned more on the Facebook Graph API and also on the Twitter one. We now have a better understanding on what we want to do, what are the possibilities behind it and how we want to change the way people expand and take care of their community.

One thing we can say is that changing our focus and our mind to be centred around our user and what they are doing has changed the way we look at our app. A lot of startups/brands/companies said that they put their users first, that they are a user-centric company and their product is based solely on what they get from the field.

We are not saying that. As product guys, at ReponseIO, we put first what we want to love and then our product to help our users. We build a story for them coming from our desires. We are the storyteller so our emotions and what we want is also important, it’s our personality. I learned that from the people who are renowned in the startup world. They build their vision and in rare cases, this vision becomes the vision of loads of people. It wasn’t someone in particular who said they wanted to have access to an app store before it was built. It wasn’t the vision to have access to an affordable electric car. It wasn’t the vision to share every personal thought and have people react to it in a matter of seconds.

Without a storyteller, the story is just word after word, sentence after sentence. The storyteller brings the tempo, brings the music behind it. As a product manager and co-founder, one of my goals is to be the best musician, to find the right melody, to be the best storyteller I can be.

Our goal is to convince you to do more storytelling, whatever your product or whatever you are doing. In another blogpost, we will be able to share the difficulty we have from a technological point of view and for example some limitations we discover on material design.

Hope you enjoyed it!


This is our story. What is yours?
ReponseIO is an analytics tool which helps you know the engagement and fidelity of your activity and community. Get the pulse and status of your page in seconds.

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Philippe London
Phil is one of the co-founders of ReponseIO and works on building the best product ever. Living in London, he enjoys drinking whisky & coffee, discovering new places, good food and hitting the gym.