November 18, 2020

Customer Centric Product Development: How Well Do You Know Your Customers?

Claiming that your business performs customer centric product development is easy. Delivering on that claim is challenging. So what does customer centricity really mean and how can software companies translate words into actions?

What is a Customer Centric Strategy?

While a client-first approach features prominently in the ethos of many organizations, the phrase is nothing more than empty jargon unless it’s applied strategically across the business – impacting every decision, and creating value for both the firm and its customers. Whether it’s in capital markets, banking or the broader technology landscape, this starts with listening and ends with execution.

Listen – Assess – Act Strategically

Businesses now have access to more information on their customers than ever before thanks to the endless torrents of data available. This data is only of value if it enables you to really know your customers and gain insights into their daily experiences and challenges, how they are using your product and what problems it is solving for them.

This level of understanding can only be achieved by interacting with customers – whether individually, via forums, surveys, in-app mechanisms or other appropriate engagement channels. You might not always like what you hear so you need to keep an open mind, discard any preconceptions and be prepared to adjust your viewpoint based on what customers tell you. Customer centric product development requires you to be open to feedback, both positive and negative. If your ego is easily bruised, this would be a good time to check it at the door.

It’s important to understand the benefits of a product versus a services approach, which I outlined in an earlier blog, but this is something that comes with keen listening to both the short and long-term needs of customers.

This year, working dynamics are shifting and, although many believed that working from home might create challenges, many employees – and even financial institutions – have embraced it.

In fact, a Bloomberg survey recently found that nearly 80% of banking individuals they spoke with found WFH to offer greater flexibility. This means that, as a technology provider, it’s imperative to listen to these shifts in the status quo and adjust your products and services to align with what the industry appetite is becoming.

Listening to all feedback is clearly a prerequisite for genuine customer centric product development, but assessing and knowing which feedback to act on is equally important. Rather than attempting to implement every customer request, it is far more effective to use market insights to inform a strategic product roadmap that takes potentially contradictory or conflicting feedback into account – keeping the focus on the value-add to clients in the broader market today.

Not only will this ensure that the firm remains focused on delivering the optimal solution for its overall user base – it will also avoid the potential disruption of a reactive, ad hoc approach.

A Product Centric Approach Can Help Enable Customer Centricity

Software companies’ end-users expect rapid and seamless implementation and frequent, innovative enhancements. A product-driven approach allows software to be delivered quickly, consistently and at scale, ensuring that all customers benefit from ongoing product development.

Recent Aite Group research has found that capital markets should expect to see an uptick in digitalization of workflows, particularly around trading, after the pandemic. Tier1 has observed the same interest from the market with our capital markets and investment banking CRM workflows in increasing demand – workflows that have been built to-date with a client-centric mindset, and which will continue to be optimized with a strategic roadmap.

Engaging with a diverse range of (potential) end-users at the product ideation phase – in workshops or via online interaction hubs, for example – will enable the business to get the full picture of its target audience’s requirements and develop a solution that is flexible enough to meet their needs but with none of the cost, time or effort that that customization entails.

So engage, listen and be ready to change your mindset if you have to – a strategic approach to customer centric product development will reap dividends.


Contact us to learn more about Tier1’s client relationship management and workflow solutions for capital markets and investment banking, or to request a Tier1 demo.