Transforming A Tattoo Parlor Experience Into A Product Management Customer Visit

Let’s be honest: 2010 was an exciting but turbulent year. To celebrate some hard-won personal and professional successes, I decided to get a tattoo. Because a) it’d be awesome, and b) why not?

After much deliberation, I decided to go with a classic Batman symbol on my shoulder:


It didn’t hurt as much as you might think.

But this isn’t a story about my tattoo. This is a story about product management in unlikely places

Specifically, an unlikely — and unexpected — product management customer visit

See, the artist at Shogun Tattoo who did my ink was also the owner. We’re talking while he works, and one of the topics that comes up is their new website.

Background:

Late last year, I was promoted and given responsibility for my company’s web publishing product line. We’re in the business of providing tools for small business owners to easily create high-quality websites. So I’m keenly interested in what he has to say.

I let him know what I do for a living…

And he starts to share information about their new website, and what he likes about it. More importantly, he recounts the history and background that led him to choose that particular vendor.

In addition to being a great artist, he’s also very clear about what he’s looking for in a website. Some needs and pressure points were common sense or things we’d heard before. However he also raised some issues that hadn’t surfaced in other channels and interviews; new insights for us to consider.

Now, granted, this is just one small business and a niche one at that. But seeing things through his eyes, I got a better understanding of his point of view, what he was looking for in a website, and what kind of problems he’d had with previous iterations of the site and previous hosts.

It was a non-traditional customer visit…

… but a valuable one, especially as we start to better segment our customers and learn what they really need.

Conducting ongoing customer visits traditionally requires more planning and thought. But when the opportunity presents itself to learn more about your market’s requirements and differentiate yourself from the competition, get ready to roll up that sleeve and kick it into third.

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Christopher Cummings

Blogs about product management. Loves Jesus, his family, comic books, video games, and giant robots. Occasionally crawls through mud and leaps over fire.
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