MUST READ: How to increase growth rate in your startup by focusing on customer needs!

How to increase growth by perfecting the product design:

(wrote this on my way home from the cinema yesterday)

Growth is the difference between your conversion rate and your churn rate. Increasing conversion rate or decreasing churn rate results in increase in growth for your startup.

Conversion rate is the percentage of your users that take a desired action. A good example is the percentage of your registered users that buy something from your site.

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The annual percentage rate at which customers stop subscribing to your service or employees leave your job is called your churn rate.

This whole write-up is about increasing the growth rate by focusing on the customer’s need.

Treat your relationship with new users as them dating you. And your relationship with customers as them marrying you.

During a date, you want to look perfectly good, not ask for too much, smile often, agree 100% of the time and find out each other’s opinion about every single decision before taking it.

In marriage, you can afford to be more of yourself for the greater good of the union.

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During dating, that first date matters alot, it can make or break the entire relationship. Many product designers like to focus alot on the homepage or landing page of your software for this same reason — its a damn first date! Lots of pancake, perfectly drawn eye pencils, pure white teetch, some methol for fresh breath, neatly cut outfit, amazing perfume and too few questions or forms.

Many product designers often also forget that a first date also invovles more than the landing page. There are other aspects of a digital product that are also part of a first date : first email, signup page, login page, first support, first phone call, first advert and first payment.

If any of these is less than epic, it affects the total number of paying and returning users of the product. One way to fix this is to make ‘everyone’ in the startup do customer support to a level. Expose everyone to the customer’s feedback directly so that they experience first hand the consequences of their design and development decisions. Essentially speaking, make the creators the supporters directly, dont put a layer in between. For a small team this is easy, for a larger team, you just need to figure our a way to expose team leads to direct customer support to an extent.

A tiny little trick for this is to install a speaker in the development room where they can hear the complaints of the customer and how the customer support downstairs responds to them. The speaker would be put on occasionally as the management dims fit.

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If you use a large screen to display support request email headlines and statistics instead, then it has to be constantly on. Each support request comes with a beep. If the engineers get the same complaint two or three times from different customers they stop whatever they are doing and fix the problem in the product so they stop getting the complaint or beep. Another way is to rotate which engineer handles support (or works with support) for the day since its a small team.

At the end of the day the next release comes quickly and with a nice easier to use feature, and everyone is happy! :)

The secret is that support conscious developers and designers build the best softwares.

But that does only one part of the job, there are usually two parts in building a better product. You can increase the knowledge of the developers with respect to the product and the users, this will decrease the knowledge required for the users to use the product. Or you can increase the amount of knowledge the users have about how to use the product, this will result in putting the pressure on your marketing team and UX team (instead of the developers) to sensitize the customers.

In reality, things are not cleanly cut in two this way, you’ll have to balance the two approaches and gray out the difference. Things like customer support, building a great freequently asked questions (FAQ) page, adding tool tips etc all help to blur out the different approaches and reduce the knowledge gap. Every new feature increases the knowledge gap again, mind you. :)

Some people have even coined a name for this kind of agile development, they call it support driven development or SDD for short.

A good way to tell whether a first date is going on great or good is to check what the emotion on the person’s face is when they are using it. Are they like “ok, ok” or like “woooow!” If a first date was successful, the person falls in love and will call back, they’ll tell their friends and also be very grateful to see your call the next time. Believe that!

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