How to Build Products That Meet Customer Needs

How to Build Products That Meet Customer Needs

Aug 25, 2022 11:04 AM

Adam Weigand

Last Updated
June 2, 2021
Finished (With Notes)
  • Understand who your customers are. For a company like Uber, with so many line of business (rides, eats, bikes and scooters, freight, transit, autonomous vehicles and flight) it's important to know really know who your customers are and the common threads across your LOBs when they use multiple products.

Core Marketing Values at Uber

  • We are the voice of the user to product - they often need to speak for the customer and advocate for their needs in the product development process. Even at Uber, a lot of things are built without regard for proven customer need.
  • We are the voice of the product to users - every time a user interacts with the app, sees a message, pass by a display board at a bus stop, etc. that's all PMM owned
  • Left brained and right brained - highly analytical, but also empathetic and creative in their campaigns
  • Build for business impact and scale - figure out how to effectively scale new features when the product spans a hugely diverse audience with diverse needs.

Uber's PMM approach

  • At Uber, PMMs own product adoption metrics

Insights and Definition

Partner with cross functional teams to dig in and understand what our learning agenda + speak with customers about what they really need.

Fundamental questions they ask before setting OKRs:

  • Who are we building for?
  • What value does the product actually have in the users' life?
  • How will users discover it?

Product Requirements Document

Takes research insights and clarifies them in a doc that crystallizes what they're going to build. Written by the Product Manager.

At the same time PMM will kick off a Marketing Brief. Often the marketing brief inputs go into the PRD as well.

What factors into a Marketing Brief?

  • What is the business impact this campaign (or launch) could have?
  • What is the user need or the market gap this is going to fill?

GTM Strategy (Launch)

The marketing brief will enable creative kickoffs, educate cross functional teams, outline positioning, messaging pillars, etc.

Also lean in on their regional teams to equip them with insights that help define or refine the positioning/messaging for them.


Build out playbooks for their different regions to enable stakeholders and make sure everyone is speaking the same language about a feature when it lands in the market.


How Uber Thinks of Insights

Three categories:

  • Behavioural - motivations or behaviours behind something. Ex. Drivers were cashing out earnings multiple times per day. Through conversations they learned drivers needed the money to cover operating expenses (gas, lunch, etc). This resulted in Instant Pay.
  • Market - competitive trends in the market. Ex. Saw in the huge amount of FinTech investing in the market, esp in LATAM. Saw an opportunity to start offering financial services = Uber Money.
  • Usability - how are users engaging with their app? Trying to build that feedback cycle.

How Uber Builds With The Customer In Mind

Develop and Socialize a Study Guide

Set the stage for your project with a guide that defines the stakeholders impacted by this product and/or the insights you're trying to discover.

Unifies everyone towards a common objective.

What goes into a study guide?

  • What opportunities are we trying to solve for our customers, and the market?
  • How will the biz grow by investing in this product or space?
  • What themes do we already know about this space?
  • How do we validate those?
  • What methodologies will we use? Qualitative, quantitative, ethnography?
  • Who do we ensure we are involving the right users in this study?
  • Who is logistically making this study happen on the ground? Sending out emails, recruiting participants, rewarding them, etc.
  • Who is the research team? Who is attending on the ground research sessions? (PMs, PMMs, UXR, Designers, Engineers, Data Scientists, etc.)
Make insight sharing interactive - Uber uses Google plus to share real-time insights that they're finding from research with the rest of the company. Show progress, gets people interested and participating.
Get in the customer's shoes - Uber PMM team acted as Uber couriers for a week to better understand the job. Goves you more empathy. Also found a ton of bugs.

Build a Knowledge Base

Especially important if you have a lot of research being conducted, a KB helps break it down for people in a central place everyone can access. Ex. Uber built an internal tool called Kaleidoscope.

  • Who had done what research?
  • What were the insights?
  • Where they valuable?
  • Were they usable?
  • Did they talk to the right users?

Test, learn, refine, measure, repeat

  • What customers say is often different from what they actually do
  • Call up customers that are doing weird things and ask them about it
  • People are surprisingly open to giving feedback
  • Also use in-app awareness surveys