Product has always encompassed more than just design and engineering. It touches everything in an organization, including sales and customer success (even though we don’t hear as much about the last two).
Duncan McCreery of MemberClicks has experience in more customer-facing roles. Today, he’s the company’s chief experience officer. Before that, he was their chief product officer. And before that, he was the VP of customer success. Way before that, he was an English teacher. Oh, and he also once helped out on a potato farm. There’s no correlation between the latter and former, but it’s important to note Duncan’s breadth of talents here.
I kid. It’s safe to say that entering the world of software was a big change. But that obviously didn’t deter him, as he has dramatically scaled his career and transformed his company.
He started in the sales team at MemberClicks and went through a self-discovery process, developing a strong passion for the product. As he transitioned into customer success, he realized that there were opportunities for the product team to get closer to their customers. While MemberClicks was a pretty nascent organization when it came to product management, Duncan transformed the organization and helped rebuild their product.
This week on Product Love, I sat down with Duncan McCreery to talk about why product management at MemberClicks is much more entrepreneurial than at most organizations. Also, we discussed the intersection between product management and customer success.
Product Managers Don’t Just Ship Features
At MemberClicks, PMs take entrepreneurship to another level. When product managers launch a new feature, they initially own the entire lifecycle of the product pre-launch. This includes PMs taking over marketing, sales, onboarding, training, and support — everything. MemberClicks has a rule that PMs must have ten happy customers who are fully onboarded before launching the product into the market. Duncan revealed that they might be pretty extreme in that regard. However, this strategy has made a world of difference for their product team and their outcomes.
This process equips their product managers with deep insight into their product. They’re able to think about how they want to position their product in the market. Their initial sales attempts let them know what prospects think and help them curate their messaging. The onboarding, training, and support experiences also allow them to understand what the customer is feeling at each stag. Finally, it lets them be agile. These responsibilities also build tremendous respect for product managers within their own company. Before you can sell your product to your customers, you must be able to sell that vision to your own organization.
Customer Success and Product Management Belong in Experience
It’s no secret that there’s often friction between customer success and product management. Although both roles push for customer centricity, they have different ways of approaching it. Customer success managers have to be in constant communication with their customers. They’re focused on tackling their customer’s day-to-day challenges and guiding them to solutions. CSMs have to solve customer problems, but product managers have to do that in addition to making strategic decisions that affect the business.
But the tension that rises between the two teams often comes from a lack of empathy regarding how either role works. It’s not fun for anyone to explain why a feature that a customer requested isn’t being prioritized. That’s why MemberClicks has bridged the two teams together. By combining customer success and product management under Experience, a department that Duncan leads, they’re able to create more opportunities for both teams to understand each other.
Want to learn what else the Experience team at MemberClicks entails? Or how Duncan optimizes customer experience by utilizing product and customer success? Listen to the episode above.