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Customer validation is a key part of agile product development. It helps you understand whether you have a product your customers will want to buy, as well as a roadmap to sell it.

The problem is that agile product teams have adjusted their product development methodologies to increase efficiency. Now, the old way to introduce insight no long fits the new models. There’s a disconnect in the speed and agility of the insight. It’s a greater challenge to introduce the customer voice to the product development cycle. Product teams may use outdated data or base decisions on gut instinct instead.

Product managers need to ensure their new products solve real customer needs. They need to ensure they have a market who will react positively to their products. They need to ensure they’re creating mission-critical solutions their customers “have to have.”

How do you do that? You get customer feedback at every step to:

  • Validate hypotheses.
  • Test assumptions in front of customers.
  • Understand customers’ problems.
  • Integrate customer feedback into product development.
  • Revise products based on feedback.
  • Test revised product concepts in front of customers.
  • Test pricing, channel strategies, marketing campaigns, and sales processes.

"Truly listening is hearing the needs of the customer, understanding those needs and making sure the company recognizes the opportunities they present." —Frank Eliason, Global Director, Client Experience, Citi

Keeping pace with the speed of product development cycles

Continuous customer interaction is necessary for agile product development. At each stage of the product development cycle, you should be consulting your customers and using their feedback to make changes. That’s how you ensure you’re staying on the right track and can build a product that succeeds in the market.

Customer-led product development sounds like the best way forward.

Yet, many companies aren’t doing it.

The problem is a lack of agility.

As product cycles accelerate, product teams need access to rapid, ongoing insight that matches the speed and cadence of their agile design methodologies. They are looking for early validation in the form of quick-hit, iterative insight that has “just enough” rigor to validate their decisions and move the product development forward. 

Traditional market research methods struggle to keep pace. Consequently, teams often proceed without adequate insight, relying instead on instinct or fragmented data cherry-picked to validate assumptions. Product teams need a way to shorten the customer feedback loop in harmony with the development cycles.  

Reducing the risk of failure with quick-hit validation

In the fast-paced and competitive business world, products are going to move forward with or without research. So, in order to reduce the risk of failure, product teams need insight that matches their agile product development methodologies and timelines.

However, it’s important to note product managers don’t require traditional rigor; quick-hit validation and the assurance that they can iterate and dig deeper as the product evolves is a great step forward.

Some insight is better than none. Being able to reach out to customers to get confirmation on a product concept is better than going full speed ahead without the validation they need to move forward with confidence. For product teams, the opportunity to engage with carefully segmented, highly engaged customers who have opted in to provide feedback at various stages of the innovation cycle is priceless. Ready access to validated customers makes it possible to conduct hyper-focused, quick-hit research in near real time.

Gaining speed of insight to innovate in mobile gaming

Jam City, a global leader in mobile entertainment, uses a customer insight platform to test concepts and integrate customer feedback into the product development cycle before launching new games.

Jam City Insiders, its community of active players, helps shape the game design process, enhance content, improve player rewards, and even improve social media features. Community members test early versions of Jam City’s new games and provide feedback on characters, narratives, and other game elements. Jam City leverages its community to complement and augment the reams of player data that would be otherwise difficult to make actionable.

For Jam City, having access to this community of engaged customers not only makes agile product development possible thanks to the speed of insight, but it also reduces research costs. The company can also go to market with more confidence. 

“The Insider community has allowed the company to gain insights into what our most passionate players want and has helped us innovate in mobile gaming. Developing relationships with our players is a central part of our development cycle. Our community has led to better business decisions and, most importantly, better player experiences.” —Josh Yguado, President and COO, Jam City

As you can see from Jam City’s story, ongoing and iterative access to customer insight eliminates the slowest and most expensive parts of traditional research, so access to insight is in step with the agile product development process.

 

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Sarena Brown

Director of Content Marketing here. I steer the content ship at VC to serve you interesting, engaging resources you can't wait to get your hands on. Why? They are simple and straightforward answers to your most pressing questions. Just like this guide about how you can embrace new customer-centric strategies.
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