Missed out on the product management event of the year?
When companies want to build better training programs, they turn to Lessonly. Although Lessonly’s tools address complex training needs, they’re built for simplicity. The company is often categorized in the learning management space, but their focus is unique to the needs of sales, support, and other customer-facing teams. And to make sure Lessonly’s tools keep meeting their customers’ needs, Product Manager Justin Kime turned to Productboard.
Product managers at Lessonly wear many hats – from higher level strategy and opportunity discovery to managing product delivery. With everything the team builds, their guiding principle is Put Learners First. “With every functionality we build, we ask, ‘Will this serve learners best?,’” said Kime.
One of the challenges Kime and his team face as they strive to put learners first is that Lessonly is primarily a white label solution, i.e., the Lessonly brand and name is completely absent for the end user. This makes it harder to assess what learners need because Kime and his team don’t get feedback directly from learners. They rely entirely on feedback from the corporate trainers and enablement leaders who build lessons with their software .
When Kime joined Lessonly a few years ago, the organization was literally drowning in product feedback. “We had this big huge Trello board with all the customer feedback, and it was a bit of a dumpster fire,” he explained. “Feedback was scattered all over the place, and that make it too easy to make decisions based on the loudest opinions, rather than on data. ”
Kime was determined to bring in a tool to organize the company’s discovery efforts. At that time, the main source of feedback was account managers submitting comments on behalf of their accounts. “We’ve always been responsive to customer feedback, but often weren’t looking at the bigger picture. Just because a few customers had the same idea doesn’t mean they had the same underlying need,” Kime said.
When he evaluated Productboard alongside other tools, Kime found that it aligned closely with Lessonly’s product philosophy. “Other tools were focused more on doing a tally of feature requests, while Productboard was taking a deeper look that resonated with me,” he explained. Today, after several different iterations of how they use Productboard to make decisions, Kime and his team have found it to be much more than just a discovery tool.
Lessonly has come a long way from an overwhelming Trello board to the system they have in place today. All product feedback is now easily accessible in Productboard — including information about specific customers who provided the feedback — which allows the team to follow up and close the feedback loop.
“Now when we start doing discovery, we already know the customers we could reach out to. That has given our discovery efforts a huge lift.”
The team has two routes of responding to feedback: a short-term and a longer-term feedback loop. Kime explained, “If somebody has provided feedback, it’s important to me to give that person some sort of resolution.” In the short-term, Kime and his team communicate to account managers that the feedback has been received, and tell them what to communicate back to their customers based on whether they’re prioritizing the work in the near future, investigating the feedback further, or already working on it.
To close the longer feedback loop, which takes place when work begins, Kime and his team rely on Productboard to show them which customers to reach out to for further discovery. Their user researcher then talks to those customers to learn more about their needs and invites them to become the first beta customers for new features. “Our customers feel like they are being listened to,” Kime said.
Once Kime and his team capture feedback in Productboard, the next challenge is deciding how to prioritize it. They use Productboard to look for trends from recent feedback and compare those trends over a period of time, such as 30 days or 90 days versus the past two years. “We can see if there are any new issues or hot topics to address,” Kime explained. Then, they base their product strategy on the overall company objectives. Feedback with a higher user impact score in Productboard helps the team proceed with the discovery process and feel confident about how they are investing their time and resources.
“We wanted to focus on strategy, but we didn’t want to stop being hyper responsive to customer needs.”
In addition, Lessonly also adds new features through an accelerations process. A squad focused on accelerations helps the organization determine customer requests that need to be fast-tracked. “We only keep a nine-month rolling roadmap, but some customers need us to accelerate features on their timeline,” Kime explained. “Productboard helps us see how big of a need it really is and determine how many accelerations we can build with the engineering time we have for an upcoming quarter. This is how we use Productboard to help us make decisions about what we’re working on.”
“There is always more product feedback than any team could ever build, but now we know that feedback didn’t just get submitted to a void. We can see where it went and look at the Insights.”
Although Kime originally chose Productboard as a way to organize the company’s discovery process, he and his team have been impressed with the difference the Roadmap feature has made for their organization as a whole. “Productboard has moved from being just a discovery tool to being an alignment tool for our organization internally,” he said. “Roadmap has been critical for Lessonly to set expectations of what’s coming next.”
The organization especially relies on Roadmap for launches. Lessonly’s main roadmap spans the current customer needs for the next nine months, but they have another board of items that are in active discovery. “Productboard has helped make sure that everyone is aligned on the problem and need we’re trying to solve, what we’re launching, and all of the details so that the marketing, sales, and support teams can build what they need for education and enablement purposes,” Kime said.
Kime appreciates that their Roadmap is connected to the feedback they’ve collected along the way in Productboard. “There are a lot of tools that do roadmapping, but the fact that it’s all connected in Productboard is really powerful,” he said. “Sales can go look at the feedback that has already been given on an item on the roadmap, and tell customers and prospects that this is something we are investing in.”
“Roadmap gives the sales team a way to involve prospects in the process, so they can feel like they are part of the Lessonly team.”
Before rolling out the Roadmap feature in Productboard, Lessonly surveyed their employees to find out how aware they were of items on the roadmap and how confident they felt about speaking to the roadmap. Three months after the rollout, they saw a big jump in both awareness and confidence.
While Kime admits that his team still receives more product feedback than they can build, he’s pleased with the transparency Productboard has brought to the process. From discovery to closing the feedback loop to creating the company roadmap, Lessonly has reached their goal of organizing their product feedback strategically.
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