Time spent with customers is precious. Organizations often talk about the importance of capturing “the voice of the customer” and product managers are directed to collect meaningful customer input. This activity is viewed as mission-critical in most organizations. But in truth – organizations invest unevenly in support of this stated goal.
In fact, effectively collecting and prioritizing customer feedback requires a variety of activities that need to be appropriately led and funded. These include the actual collection of the data, centralizing these inputs, prioritizing the inputs as well as weighing their relative values. Simply collecting the voice of the customer is not enough.
We were interested in understanding how much time product managers and owners are actively investing with customers in the field. This includes directly talking with customers, conducting market research, sales support, tradeshows, etc. So we turned to product team members to better understand their perceptions.
Before we look at the response data, how much time do you believe product managers actually spend in active customer engagement? Have a number in your head? Good, now lets take a look at what product team members told us.
“How Much Time Do Product Managers Spend in the Field in Your Organization?”
Respondents surveyed indicate that more than 40% of their product managers spend at least 15% of their time in the field and 12.5% of this group believe their product managers devote more than 30% of their time to fieldwork where they talk to customers, conduct market research, attend tradeshows and interact with others in the field. On the other hand, more than 43% of respondents – a slightly larger group – see product managers (43.3%) spending 15% or less of their time in the field, a good portion of this group (14.8%) seeing their product managers rarely leaving the building at all.
The data shows that the majority of product team members believe that their product managers and owners are spending a significant amount of time in the field actively engaging with customers. Survey respondents indicate the 69% of product managers and owners spend between 1% and 30% of their time with customers. With the majority weighing in between 1% and 15% – narrowly edging out the 15% to 30% responses.
However, the picture is not as rosy as it appears! Nearly 15% of product managers do not leave the building and when we examined product manager and owner responses – we got a different answer! It turns out that product team members have a rosier view of how much time is being spent in the field than the product managers and owners do.
I will share that data in next week’s post. Stay tuned.