Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Building trust with your customers

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One of the key elements to business success is customer engagement. When you have customers that are excited about your products or services, your business grows and you prosper.

As good as it sounds (and you know this), building trust with your customer base is hard work. It takes effort and perseverance. It takes time. It’s an investment that will pay dividends if you give it the focus it needs.

Building Trust

One of the best ways to build this trust is to understand—completely—the reasons customers hire your service or product, and what value you bring to them.

Understanding why they buy products has always been challenging. There are many theories and more than a few practices today.

The focus of my career has been building software products. I have met with many customers, with varying degrees of success. Recently I found something I believe will be a game changer.

A few months ago I wrote a post about Clayton Christensen’s new book Competing Against Luck, which describes in detail the ‘Jobs Theory’ or jobs-to-be-done (JTBD), a new way of thinking about your products. With JTBD, you focus on why your customers ‘hire’ your products, you understand the job they need to complete and build products that solve those needs.

During my initial research phase I was struck by how pertinent JTBD is to the software products industry. The deeper I dug the more I realized JTBD has been around for a long time and there are a few practitioners who are making great strides. Over the next several months, as I make additional contacts and refine my research, I will share my findings.

What has become clear after working with many customers…they want to know you understand their problems. As you delve further into their work situations and appreciate the difficulties they face, you start to build trust. Over time, as you gain a deeper understanding of the details that drive their business, you become a trusted advisor.

Questions: How strong is the culture of trust in your organization? What do you need to become a trusted advisor? Please leave a comment in the space below.


The Product Management Perspective: Trust is key to effectively working with the teams you depend on for your product’s success. The time you spend understanding your markets and engaging with customers will pay dividends over time. When you live and lead in such a way that people trust your decisions, your products will reflect your efforts and your customers will trust you.

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