One of the more difficult questions I get asked is what is the best product I’ve ever worked on or with. Working in a variety of industries makes it very difficult to compare and contrast the vastly different experiences I had, particularly because each product itself had such different circumstances surrounding its management. Almost all were positive in some way and each holds a special place in my heart because of a key learning I took from it – be it a new technology, or new technique, or new viewpoint, or even new networking relationship that’s followed me to another stage of my career.
Choosing just one then is a little frustrating because when someone asks what they are really looking for is which one I feel encapsulates my best qualities as a manager to then judge me upon. Knowing the ulterior motive of the question than further complicates the answer as I have to carefully tailor the response to reflect this as well.
Thankfully, recently, I was involved in a product that seems to fit all the criteria and truly is near and dear to my heart: Social Advocacy Click-to-call tool
Concept was a first ever combination of the technologies which made the process challenging.
- Members created custom pages regarding a social issue of importance to them. They could invite friends using a dashboard to visit their page. Each action taken on their page raised their goal meter and the member was notified of the action in order to thank their friends for taking it.
- The member’s custom page allowed a visitor to input a discrete amount of personal information which was mapped to a legislative database. The visitor’s cell phone rang and was connected to the appropriate legislator. The visitor was presented with a simple script to guide them through the process.
- Primarily marketing was done virally to recruit members and those members leveraged their own networks to generate calls.
The concept had an immediate impact which made the results rewarding.
- Over 500 active member pages were created over the course of the campaign.
- Member pages resulted in 8000 calls being made to legislators – helping swing the result of legislation being voted on.
- Feedback from both members and visitors was extremely positive – culled from forms and from social media posts regarding the tool and campaign.
As product manager I led the entire course of the product’s life-cycle which provided the opportunity to utilize the full range of my PM skills.
- Refined the CEOs original concept vision into a defined product specification, developed the scope, strategy and product road map.
- Led the entire development process including design, engineering, testing and launch
- Oversaw technology integrations such as multi-platform hosting, database geo-targeting, VoIP, social network integrations and more.
- Assisted in the marketing efforts for acquisition and retention, particularly focused on user needs as related to future optimization and features development.
- Led the optimization process through the campaign lifecycle including A/B testing, user feedback reporting and KPI analysis
- Refined product features through the product lifecycle using optimization data, user focus groups and stakeholder requests, emerging technology options and development team suggestions.
- Project managed using agile techniques many of the processes, interfacing with management, marketing, fundraising, design, development (in-house and vendor contracted), vendor contracted hosting while also responding to legal, partner and user needs.
As a product manager, one of the greatest feelings is knowing you’ve truly solved for a user problem and supplied a solution to user needs.
What we saw were the problems to solve for:
- This issue is important to me but I don’t know what I should do or when is the best time to do it and have a positive effect?
- I want to contact my representative but I don’t know who to contact or how to find them.
- I’ve never contacted a legislator before so I don’t even know what to say even though I want to tell them how I feel.
- Now that I’ve said my piece I am gratified but I still want to do more, what else can I do?
The initial tool we built looked to initially solve for those four basic problems and after creating a prototype began to analyze feedback and usage trends in order to optimize it for the end-user experience. Here’s some of what we did:
Expanded the share usability and functionality, incrementally increasing member page creation and overall page visitors.
- Provided “suggested copy” tailored to the use case and easily editable. The initial need came from user and partner feedback, the suggested copy from focus groups and A/B testing.
- Increased the number of places the share components were displayed as a result of A/B testing and user feedback.
- Tested additional share options as the result of user feedback.
Provided in-flow examples to demonstrate usage and alleviate anxiety in using the tool, incrementally increasing call completion.
- Added a demo video from partner and user feedback, tested the content in focus groups and placement through some A/B testing.
- Added script example from user feedback with the copy refinement coming from partner and user feedback.
Reduced the number of clicks to call initiation resulting in more call attempts and a slight increase in call completions.
- User feedback was mixed on the one-step versus two-step processes but the KPIs seemed to demonstrate success in the one-step.
- Positive feedback from users for one-step was primarily focused on surprise in the simplicity of use and ease in executing the call itself (whereas negative feedback lacked a single consistent tone) which probably lent itself to greater completion and sharing.
The biggest challenges in the product development were
A large number of platform components that needed to be integrated and managed
- The primary site and CMS was built on an existing Drupal instal that included a large number of extraneous legacy components built by both in-house and external programmers.
- The Legislator DB and geo-targeting tool was provided by a third-party vendor.
- The click-to-call mechanism (connects the DB response to the VoIP execution) was provided as part of a joint-venture of third-party vendors.
- The VoIP connection was managed by a third-party provider through their JV with another vendor.
- The social network components included both user authentication and both logged & unlogged sharing.
There are a large number of secondary stakeholders involved. Apart from the ones listed above