Complete Guide on What is Product Service Management
What is product service management? What does it involve and what are its benefits? How is it different from product management?
If you’re after answers to these questions, we’ve got you covered.
Are you ready for the deep dive? Let’s get right to it!
- Product service management is a marketing function whose objective is to keep track of customer and market need fluctuations and inform product development.
- In smaller companies, product service management responsibilities are covered by product managers. That’s because a big part of the role involves collecting and analyzing market and consumer data to guide product development.
- However, the focus of product service management is on delivering a delightful service and fostering relationships with customers.
- The benefits of embedding a product service management role in your organization include improved differentiation thanks to ongoing incremental innovation.
- They also help develop only the products that satisfy real user problems. This improves customer satisfaction and saves the organization resources which could be wasted on developing unwanted features.
- During the prelaunch stage, their task is to carry out market and customer research. This is necessary to gain an in-depth understanding of user needs and existing competitor products.
- To achieve that they use a range of techniques, like review research, user interviews, feedback, or product usage tracking.
- By conducting market and customer research, PSMs help product teams uncover opportunities that their product could satisfy, and validate ideas.
- They also work with product managers on the product roadmap, carry out experiments to validate ideas and help identify minimum viable features for the MVP.
- During the development stage, their focus is on developing the product positioning strategy and preparing for the product launch.
- The product launch phase is when the PSMs put in the effort to develop and refine the go-to-market strategy.
- During the post-launch phase, their job is to monitor the performance of the product and the marketing measures. The goal is to rectify issues and find ways to add value to the product. They also trial sales and advertising sales support.
- Product service managers are also responsible for initiating and managing the final part of the product development cycle, that is sunsetting the product or feature.
- Userpilot can help product service managers collect user feedback, analyze user behavior data and improve communication via in-app messaging. Want to see how? Book the demo!
What is product service management?
Product service management is the process of developing a business’s product line to accommodate the changing situation in the market.
To achieve that, product service management tries to identify or predict user needs to inform product development.
Product service management vs product management
Product service management combines product management and marketing responsibilities into one role.
On the one hand, they deal with market research and messaging just like the marketing team. On the other hand, the goal of PSM is to ensure alignment between customer needs, product development, and UX design.
However, there are some key differences between product service management and product management in how they approach product development.
In a nutshell, the focus of a product manager is on the product. They work to develop a product that drives value by addressing user needs and pain points.
The PSMs focus on delivering valuable service and cultivating relationships between the customers and the product.
Whether a company has a dedicated product service development role depends on the size of the company. Unlike developed companies, SaaS start-ups have limited resources and a limited product offering. As a result, it’s usually the product manager who does the work.
The role of product service managers
Let’s have a quick look at what the product service manager role entails.
Understand customer needs
To be able to ensure alignment between the product line and the fluctuating customer needs, you need to keep analyzing them continuously.
What are some ways to carry out such an analysis?
Customer reviews and social media mentions could be a great indication of changes in their needs and expectations. That’s why PSMs usually incorporate researching these into their processes.
These shouldn’t be limited to reviews of your products only.
Reviews of your rivals’ products could be equally insightful. They can reveal unmet needs in the market that we can exploit or warn you of where your product may be lacking in comparison to others.
In-app customer feedback is another way to collect feedback from existing users. Building in-app surveys hardly take any time and you can use them to target specific user segments to identify opportunities to add value to your product.
Tracking user behavior data is an even more reliable way to uncover opportunities. By looking at every click, text input, or hover of our users, we can get a very good idea of which part of the UI could be improved to remove friction and drive value.
Monitor existing products and services across competitors
As mentioned, we shouldn’t only be focusing on our users and how they engage with your product.
Closely monitoring what old competitors are doing and watching out for new ones that could disrupt your business, is a part of it. Instead of focusing on features only, we should also be looking at how they market and sell their products.
And never stop innovating.
Settling for product parity is never a good idea, looking for innovative ways to solve user problems usually is. Apart from price, we can differentiate our products based on superior design, quality, reliability, or services you provide.
Identify market opportunities and changes
Apart from the competitors, product service managers need to keep their eyes on general economic trends. That’s because economic slowdowns or changes in customer needs can turn even the best features into flops.
This is particularly important in the current economic climate. The C-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have also brought a lot of unpredictability to the SaaS world.
Tools like PESTLE, VUKA, or SWOT analysis can help them analyze the external environment and make adjustments to the strategy.
These are not one-off exercises. The more complex and volatile the markets, the more frequently they should be reviewed. That’s why the work of product service managers never stops on this front.
Act as brand managers
Established SaaS businesses often have a number of very diverse products in their portfolio.
Even when they are all aligned consistently with the company vision at a high level, delivering consistent customer experience and ensuring cohesive branding may be challenging.
The job of the product service manager is to ensure alignment in this dimension.
Collaborate with product management on product roadmap development
It is the job of the product managers to make sure that the product roadmap is aligned with the product vision, but they often could use help from a PSM.
Product service managers bring to the table insights from customer feedback and research. They work alongside product managers and help them incorporate these insights into the roadmap so that the product meets the market and customer needs.
Benefits of product service management
Do you need product service management then? What can it bring to your organization?
Better product differentiation via incremental innovation
Ongoing market and customer research are necessary to innovate products in a methodical and informed way.
By continuing to adapt to market trends and customer needs, you will be able to build products that not only satisfy user expectations but exceed them.
This will allow you to stay ahead of the competition.
Optimized costs and profit margins
Identifying user preferences and analyzing what’s currently available on the market allows organizations to reduce overheads and boost profits.
That’s possible because teams don’t waste valuable resources developing features that don’t solve user problems.
And if a product doesn’t solve a pain point or satisfy their needs, it’s redundant and won’t survive long, especially in times of economic downturn.
Apart from helping your team to decide what to build, it also helps focus the marketing messages on the right aspects of product functionality to show that you’re delivering for your users.
Increased customer satisfaction through products that delight
Responding to user needs and addressing them in an innovative way adds delight to the product experience.
Amplifying it with the right messaging which doesn’t let users miss the fact that you’re catering to their needs, also boosts customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Phases of product service management across the product lifecycle
Now that we’ve identified some of the benefits of embedding product service management into your product organization, let’s look at how the product services manager is involved at different stages of the product development cycle.
Before product development
The work of the PSMs starts way before the actual product development.
As mentioned they play a big part in the market and customer research. To capture the voice of the customer and uncover opportunities, they often carry out user interviews and run focus groups.
Product Service Managers should also be involved in generating ideas to address identified opportunities.
Once you have some ideas lined-up, PSMs can help you validate them through prototype testing and even more user interviews or focus groups.
The more work is done at this stage, the better your MVP will be.
Product development phase
During the product development phase, product service management serves as a conductor between the product management team and the marketing team.
They also use customer and market research insights to develop the product positioning strategy and make sure that the development team has the right information to implement it.
It’s also their responsibility to prepare and carry out the product launch. Part of it is shaping marketing communications through message testing.
Product launch phase
During the product launch phase, the product service managers work closely with the marketing colleagues to further develop the go-to-market plan.
Having previously identified the target customer groups and markets and developed the positioning strategy, they put in more work to refine the messaging and identify the best ways to market and sell the product.
This may mean finding the right channels to reach the target users and devising the pricing strategy that will make the product appealing.
After product lunch
Once the product is on the market, product service managers shift their focus to monitoring its performance.
This involves collecting data on how well the product meets the needs of the users and how effective the marketing measures are, and feeding back to the product and marketing teams.
Initially, the key objective is to identify issues that could lead to user churn and negatively impact product adoption rates. As time goes on, PCMs use customer data and feedback to find new opportunities to improve the product and add value.
Whenever there is a shift in customer preferences or market trends, their job is to work out new ways of retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. Apart from incremental innovation, this also means tweaking product marketing and branding.
Product and feature sunsetting stage
No matter how successful the product is, there normally comes a time in a product lifecycle when it’s time to call it a day and sunset it.
What are the reasons for phasing out products?
This could be necessitated by a market shift that reduces the demand for the product to the point when it’s not profitable anymore and doesn’t justify further investment.
Sometimes companies manage to predict such shifts well in advance and change their strategies accordingly. As a result of that, a product may not fit the strategy anymore.
Finally, it may be the development of a new product that satisfies the needs of users in a more innovative way that makes the team kill a product.
Whatever the circumstances, it’s the responsibility of PSMs to identify the need at the right time and manage the process of sunsetting the product once the decision is made.
This normally means managing the messaging in the final stages of its life cycle via multiple channels to make sure users are aware of the change and what it means for them.
How Userpilot helps product service managers
Userpilot is a comprehensive product adoption platform that offers a wide range of features that product service managers can leverage for customer research and marketing purposes.
Collect customer feedback
Collecting user feedback with Userpilot is a breeze. As it’s a no-code tool, and anyone on your team can easily design a range of in-app surveys and trigger them at the right time for the right user segment.
You can use the results of any survey to create user segments that will help you target your user communications and UI guidance later on.
In the case of NPS surveys, you can also create user segments based on the qualitative responses provided by the users. All you need to do is tag the responses.
Uncover trends with product usage data
As you’ve seen so far, the work of PSMs revolves around data collection, processing, and analysis.
Userpilot allows you to track how users engage with the product, then analyze the data to identify trends.
For example, you can easily tag different features right from the Chrome extension and track how users engage with them over time. You can easily see which of them get adopted by which user groups, and which of them are underutilized.
Such knowledge can help you identify functionality that you should prioritize for future development. If a feature doesn’t get used enough, you could look for ways to improve engagement, and if that doesn’t work consider sunsetting it.
Launch new features and announce changes in-app
PSMs can use the engagement layer in Userpilot to improve in-app communications with the users.
For example, they can easily design and trigger modals, banners, or slideouts to announce the launch of new features or updates to existing ones. This will keep users in the loop about new developments and improve their adoption.
There is no simple answer to the question of what is product service management as it’s a complex role bridging the gap between the product manager and marketing manager roles.
In a nutshell, though, we can say PCMs are responsible for aligning the work of the marketing and product teams to build products that keep satisfying the market and meet customer needs.
Would you like to see how Userpilot could facilitate product service management in your company? Book the demo!