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Customer feedback and the product roadmap

This article was based on the interview with Jaxon Repp from HarperDB by Greg Kihlström for The Agile Brand with Greg Kihlström podcast. Listen to the original episode here:

It is important to let customer feedback have a role in driving the product roadmap, but it needs to be balanced with other considerations.

One of the key ways in which customer feedback drives HarperDB’s product roadmap is through the company’s go-to-market efforts. When HarperDB first started out, its product roadmap was entirely customer-led. The company prioritized features that would deliver parity with existing solutions in the database industry. This meant that HarperDB had to backwards engineer some of the features that customers were already relying on. While HarperDB was also focused on unique and innovative performance-oriented features, it recognized the importance of including standard features that customers expected, such as snapshot backups.

Engaging with customers, especially engineers and IT staff, provided valuable insights into their specific needs and priorities. Engineers wanted performance, while the head of applications wanted fast and cost-effective solutions. IT staff wanted stability and disaster recovery tools. These personas became the biggest tool set and resource for HarperDB in prioritizing its product roadmap. By understanding the needs of these customer personas, HarperDB was able to steer its development efforts in the right direction.

Customer feedback also played a crucial role in addressing specific use cases and customizing the platform for different customer needs. For example, some customers wanted the ability to turn off indexing for certain fields, which HarperDB initially did not offer. However, the company recognized the value in providing this option and prioritized it to meet customer demands. This not only improved the product’s flexibility but also demonstrated to customers that HarperDB was listening to their feedback and cared about their outcomes.

Reflecting on the go-to-market strategy, HarperDB acknowledged that there were areas where improvements could be made. Initially, the company presented point solutions or demo apps to potential customers, which led to confusion and misunderstandings. Customers expressed interest in purchasing these point solutions, not realizing that they were just demos built on top of the platform. To address this issue, HarperDB focused on improving its demonstration tools and visual representation of the product. This allowed potential customers to better understand the capabilities of the platform without getting caught up in specific applications. The goal was to convey that HarperDB was a versatile platform where customers could build their desired solutions.

In terms of prioritization, HarperDB balances customer feedback with its own innovations. While customer needs and requests are crucial in shaping the product roadmap, the company also recognizes the importance of introducing features that customers may not be anticipating or asking for. This balance ensures that HarperDB remains innovative and ahead of the curve while still meeting the immediate needs of its customers.

In conclusion, customer feedback plays a vital role in driving HarperDB’s product roadmap. By actively listening to the needs and pain points of developers, the company has been able to prioritize features that address those concerns. The go-to-market efforts have not only influenced the product but also helped build a strong customer base. HarperDB’s focus on reducing friction in the sales process, simplifying the development experience, and delivering optimal performance has resonated with its target audience. Through continuous engagement with customers and a commitment to delivering value, HarperDB has established itself as a customer-centric organization that values feedback and uses it to shape its product roadmap.

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