The WillowTree team attended Amplify, Amplitude’s yearly product conference earlier this month in San Fransisco. The team, which included members from our Growth and Insights teams, joined nearly 2,000 other attendees to gather around industry leading partners, including Segment, Braze, and mParticle among others.
13 inspiring thought leaders from the world’s leading companies across a range of industries presented at Amplify focusing on three common themes:
- Make your customers (and employees) happy
- Listen to them
- Make data-driven decisions
Make your customers (and employees) happy.
Safi Bahcall, a biotech entrepreneur and author, kicked off the conference mainstage track with a simple question– “Why do good teams kill great ideas?’’
Using his scientific background, Bahcall shared that the main problem is ideas are constantly in two transitional forces: Stake and outcome (entropy), and perks of rank (binding energy). The constant flux of these two directly affect how ideas are perceived - in short, it leaves employees constantly struggling to decide what’s more important– the value of their project or the growth of their career? How does a leader manage their employees’ happiness and ensure that everyone is feeling fulfilled? The answer, Bahcall divulged, is a leader who is persistent and diligent with their ideas and passionate about making both employees and customers happy.
Enter Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom,was interviewed on stage by Amplitude CEO Spenser Skates. Yuan noted that his employees happiness is always top of mind, sharing an impressive NPS score of 71. Employee happiness translates to good products being built which leads to happier customers. If Yuan ever comes across a problem with employee or customer satisfaction, he said, “I will stop everything to look at that, try to understand what had happened, and then to fix that.” Skates noted that his product managers spend between 50%-70% of their time talking to customers and getting their feedback. With the root of company success being happiness, the way to make your customers happy is to listen and anticipate their needs.
Listen - listen to your consumers through data.
Merci Grace, partner at Lightspeed Venture, quoted Ray and Charles Eames stating that “the role of the designer is that of a very good thoughtful host all of whose energy goes into trying to anticipate the needs of their guests.” To properly anticipate your guests’ needs, you need to have a complete picture of what they are doing. Amplitude’s VP of Product, Justin Bauer, called the inability to act on certain needs due to unreliable data an execution gap.
This execution gap is comprised of three main reasons:
- There is no single source for trustworthy data
- There is a lack of on-demand product insights
- There is an inability to act on behavioral context.
These three reasons make it hard for companies to listen and act on what the customers’ needs are. Bauer also mentioned tool siloes, where the tools don’t talk to each other, resulting in more data issues. However, the answer isn’t to throw more tools and people at the problem, it “doesn’t move the needle.” You need to “address the symptoms.” Product intelligence is the foundational key to listening to your customers’ needs based on how they use the platform.
Adam Nash, VP of Product and Growth at DropBox, mentioned Occam’s razor (also known as Einstein’s razor), where you want to make things as simple as possible, but not simpler. Simplification may include less features because your customers may be getting confused or distracted. Your data will tell you where customers are dropping off on their path, and to fix the problem, you may have to work backwards.
Listening to customers can be difficult. Yuan reiterated that the product is your baby. With the amount of work and passion you put into a project, it can be hard to hear that someone doesn’t like it. Considering this, Yuan, Nash, and Grace actually encourage bringing emotions to your work. Emotion gives birth to passion, which results in a great product. Nash mentioned, “It is very frustrating to compete and even harder to win against a competitor that has that irrational love for their competitors.” Make sure you listen to the customers who love your product and show them love them in return.
Make data-driven decisions
Elie Javice, Head of Tech Product Management and CRM at Restaurant Brands International, and Marcelo Pascoa, Global Head of Brand Marketing for Burger King Corporation, stole the stage to talk about BK’s hugely successful “The Whopper Detour” campaign. Marcelo noted, “people don’t care about data … the people that we are trying to bring to our restaurants want to have experiences that are only possible with data.” After listening to your customer’s needs and requests, how do you justify your proposed changes? The answer– use Data.
Siqi Chen, president and CEO of SandboxVR, said that to drive change you need to take risks. Sometimes the data shows you something unexpected, and it may be difficult to change the product or messaging going out to customers. That’s when you can build out an A/B test framework to see what performs better and iterate on it. But what if you don’t have enough data? Dr. Theresa Johnson, Product Manager, Payments at Airbnb, identified four stages of where a company stands with respect to their product and data:
- Stage 1: No Data/No Product
- Stage 2: No Data/Public Product
- Stage 3: Some Data/No Product
- Stage 4: Some Data/Public Product
Most startups fall into Stage 4, where they have invested in a lightweight data solution that can tell a coherent story. There may never be a situation of having enough useful data, but ensuring that the data you have has integrity is essential to your business’s success. Shadi Rostami, EVP of Engineering at Amplitude, referenced a case where Amplitude’s Taxonomy product helped clean up messy data by writing rules to organize incoming data. To be successful in making data driven decisions, follow Dr. Johnson’s advice and build a strong data culture early in the product life cycle.