Use your product, warts and all

young annoyed female freelancer using laptop at home

It is often said that using one’s own product or service is the best way to gather feedback and identify improvements. Often when using our own products or services though, we know exactly which buttons to click, what to type into which text fields, and in what order to perform each task. In short, we know where the gremlins live, and we side-step them at all costs.

Watching a customer use your product helps to identify these gremlins. The customer doesn’t always follow the path you’d like them to, may get stuck along the way, and may be quite confused with aspects of your product which are clear and obvious to you.

I’d advocate for an additional approach; use your product, warts and all.

In short, this approach can be described as “using your product as if you were a customer”. What if you actually were a customer of your product? If you aren’t, you should be.

For over a decade, South Africa has been plagued with loadshedding (rolling blackouts). Households and businesses are without power for up to 10 hours per day on average. While absolutely despicable, there is a lesson to be learned from all of this loadshedding. Those who feel the pain of loadshedding are solving the pain points for themselves. Government officials and the higher-ups at the national power utility don’t get loadshedding, for reasons unknown to the wider public.

What if they did get loadshedding? What might it look like for the president, every government minister, and every executive at the national power utility to also get rolling blackouts?

I’ll tell you what, the loadshedding would be resolved quicker than ever before!

To truly feel the pinch of the issues your customers experience, is the first critical step towards resolving those issues in a sustainable manner.

Use your products. Be a true customer of your efforts. Feel the pain points, and work to resolve them. Your customers will thank you.

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