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Advice

Why giving a shit matters

By Jason Yavorska on October 29, 2023

When business strategies and product development are driven by profit margins and efficiency, there's a compelling argument for a different approach. A story sheds light on a fundamental principle that should resonate with every product manager: the value of giving a shit.

Someone working on fine details at a desk

Perhaps putting it in terms of "giving a shit" may sound a little brash, but doing so is a way to focus your attention on something essential for the success of any product or service. The story of East Vancouver's Union Wood Co., as shared by a fellow entrepreneur back in 2022 (check it out before reading on!), reveals that what sets exceptional businesses apart isn't always their expertise or pricing. It's the simple act of caring deeply about the customer's needs and the final product.

The importance of customer focus

As a product manager, your primary goal is to create a product that meets your customers' needs. It's easy to fall into the trap of treating product management as a mere checklist, ticking off features and tasks. However, when this happens, the result is often subpar products that fail to resonate with the market. To excel in this role, you must be customer-focused, and this means genuinely caring about your customers' needs and experiences.

The Union Wood Co. example highlights the power of customer focus. The team at the furniture studio didn't just deliver a custom table; they immersed themselves in understanding their client's unique requirements. They asked thoughtful questions, took the time to provide samples, and even embraced the challenge of creating a custom shape. This level of dedication to customer satisfaction is precisely what sets them apart.

Caring as a competitive advantage

The author of the original post noticed that when they pushed back and asked challenging questions, potential clients became more interested in their services. Why? Because it demonstrated that they cared. In a world where some businesses are solely interested in securing quick deals and profits, this willingness to invest time and effort in understanding the customer's needs stands out.

This is a valuable lesson for product managers. When you truly care about your customers, it's not just about delivering what's asked for; it's about going the extra mile to understand their underlying problems and offering innovative solutions. This can set you apart in a crowded market, creating a competitive advantage that goes beyond product features or pricing.

Building long-term relationships

In a world driven by immediate results, fostering long-term customer relationships can sometimes be overlooked. However, as highlighted in the comments, customers appreciate when someone genuinely cares about their needs. They notice when a vendor takes ownership of their projects, offers accountability, and demonstrates loyalty.

As a product manager, your goal should be to build strong, lasting relationships with your customers. When you consistently "give a shit" about their needs, you're not just delivering a product – you're cultivating trust and loyalty. These relationships can lead to repeat business, referrals, and even partnerships that benefit both parties.

In the end, it's important to remember that product management is not merely about checkboxes and tasks; it's about caring deeply about your customers and the quality of your product. Your role is not defined solely by market trends or profit margins. It's about understanding your customers, addressing their needs, and building strong, lasting relationships.

When you truly care about your customers and your product, you'll find that success follows naturally. Product management isn't a box-ticking exercise; it's a journey of commitment and dedication to building something that matters.