However, recent Whitecap research, undertaken prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, has consistently shown that controlled “product reveals” of planned developments, “drip-feed” style, can create positive goodwill both for the retention of existing customers and winning new ones.
Done in the right way, through controlled communications to specific existing or hot prospective customers, product roadmap revelations can foster the type of business development you can’t measure: positive, word of mouth conversations.
- Product roadmap reveals strengthen customer relationships and help to strengthen your company’s reputation:
- Customers develop a rapport with their software Account Managers which means that when that Account Manager reveals a product update on the horizon, the customer feels privy to product insight shared particularly for them and with their needs in mind.
- Regular product updates communicated digitally via email, and through spoken word via Account Managers combine to create an overall impression of current competence and future foresight; that as a software provider, you “know what you’re doing” and “it’s all in hand”.
- Product roadmap reveals allow your customers to develop their own company strategies and to appear similarly knowledgeable to their own clients:
- Giving customers foresight around future improvements to software provision helps inform their own strategies and allows them to stay ahead of the game.
- Crucially, it makes your customers feel as though they themselves are “in the know”, building a sense of their own expertise. The ability to cite product updates promised by their software provider to their own clients reflects well on your customers; sharing product roadmap reveals is like handing customers a ready-made reputation enhancer. They too can create the impression among their own clients that they have expert knowledge around automation and technology.
- Product roadmap reveals can increase customer retention and reduce churn:
- Customers of software provision want exactly what we all want: to be able sit back and trust that everything is in hand. Giving them foresight around what’s to come demonstrates that you, the provider, have taken future change in hand; that you are worrying about developments so that they (your customers) don’t have to.
- In effect, this takes a thought process / a job / a strategic process off your customers’ hands. Reducing their workload creates the impression you are providing a service (looking ahead) for them; bringing a sense of security that Whitecap interviewees have repeatedly admitted to being prepared to pay more for.
- Offering customers the certainty of being able to futureproof their own service offering increases their loyalty. Why would they look elsewhere when they are in constant communication with their current provider and know that wherever that software provision currently falls down, their provider is in the process of tackling it?
- In that case, the threat from competition is reduced. Consistently, customers of software provision who knew that updates were on the horizon were less likely to shop around and more likely to stay loyal and wait for their existing provider’s update. That way you retain more customers and reduce churn.
What happens if, after strategically revealing your product pipeline you are unable to deliver on promised timescales? It’s true that as soon as you make promises to customers you are then under pressure to deliver on them within the specified time frame. However, the value of revealing your product pipeline to customers is not wholly about the product development itself, and rather, the culture fostered through open communication with your customers. Talk to them realistically about what to expect and the likely time range due – the respect earned here will pay off on the occasions when those updates do not happen on time.
Strategically timed revelations of your product pipeline provide comfort and re-assurance to service provider and service receiver. Above all, it strengthens the bond between service provider and customer. Providers can keep their customers closer and commitment higher with clients engaged by the next product update, while paying consumers can rest easy knowing that their providers are keeping up with tech advancements in the wider industry so that they don’t have to.
Established in 2012, Whitecap Consulting is a regional strategy consultancy headquartered in Leeds, with offices in Manchester, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle. We typically work with boards, executives and investors of predominantly mid-sized organisations with a turnover of c£10m-£300m, helping clients analyse, develop and implement growth strategies. Also, we work with clients across a range of sectors including Financial Services, Technology, FinTech, Outsourcing, Consumer and Retail, Property, Healthcare, Higher Education, Manufacturing and Professional Services, including Corporate Finance and PE.