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The Murakami approach to beta customer feedback

Learn how a Workable product manager transforms beta feedback calls into an exhilarating adventure, mirroring Haruki Murakami's introspective approach to running.

Anthoula Poniraki
Anthoula Poniraki

Anthoula is a Senior Product Manager at Workable with a diverse background in the tech industry.

Murakami approach to feedback

I bet every product manager out there has their go-to favorite parts of the job, right? Well, I’m about to let you in on one of mine – it’s the thrill of conducting customer feedback calls during the beta phase of a feature.

This pivotal stage, where I gather invaluable insights from our beta users before the official release, is more than just a routine item on my development checklist. It transforms into this awesome journey that totally embodies the real spirit of innovation.

Have you ever thought about what makes these beta feedback calls so exhilarating? Picture this beta phase not just as a procedural step before a product launch but as a dynamic voyage. It isn’t a sprint but a marathon of discovery.

Talking about marathons, I recently read Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”, and ever since, I’ve been considering that these beta calls echo the introspective essence of long-distance running.

As Murakami eloquently puts it, there’s a unique blend of solitude and rhythm in these customer calls – a chance to connect with users, understand their experiences, and feel the pulse of their needs.

As Murakami eloquently puts it, there’s a unique blend of solitude and rhythm in these customer calls – a chance to connect with users, understand their experiences, and feel the pulse of their needs.

Like a marathon runner facing unknown challenges with each stride, I embark on this unknown beta path fueled by questions: What insights will I uncover? How will these insights shape the final product?

Thinking about these questions gets me excited and takes me to a place where innovation truly comes to life.

After all, the beta phase is not merely about ticking off developmental milestones; it’s an interactive exploration that delves into the heartbeat of our users.

Now, let me break it down for you – why these things are some of the most exciting aspects of my job!

Engaging with real users

For me, one of the most important aspects of the beta phase is the opportunity to directly connect with the pulse of our user base. Drawing inspiration from Murakami’s insights, engaging with users during beta calls is like my metaphorical run – a chance to connect with users, listen to their stories, and grasp the rhythm of their experiences.

Murakami, in his introspective reflections, shares, “I just run. I run in a void.” Similarly, engaging with users during beta is a chance to step into the void of their experiences, exploring the uncharted territories of their thoughts and expectations.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to sit in the front row, observing how your product resonates with its intended audience? These calls provide a unique opportunity for me to engage directly with users, transforming data points into stories, and numbers into individual perspectives.

Imagine being a storyteller, with each user playing a role in the evolving narrative of your product.

Unfiltered insights

During beta, users are exploring a feature in its raw, unpolished form. What if those raw, unfiltered experiences shared during the beta become the hidden gems that shape your product’s future? I like to see them as a treasure trove of insights waiting to be discovered.

I genuinely believe that the beta phase offers me the chance to hear the truth about what excites, confuses, or genuinely resonates with our users.

And then I wonder: How can I refine these insights into something truly exceptional? The journey unfolds as I navigate through this raw authenticity, forging a path toward product excellence.

As Murakami notes, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” The unfiltered feedback becomes my pain – the necessary discomfort that leads to growth and improvement.

As Murakami notes, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” The unfiltered feedback becomes my pain – the necessary discomfort that leads to growth and improvement.

He also says, “I run because I love running.” Similarly, the unfiltered insights become a labor of love, a genuine exploration of the product’s essence, free from unnecessary embellishments.

Rapid iteration and improvement

Empowered by the unfiltered insights gathered bit by bit through candid feedback during these calls, the beta phase becomes a playground for rapid iteration. It’s the time when I can swiftly pivot and adjust based on real-time user experiences.

This iterative nature, akin to Murakami’s dedication to continuous improvement in his writing and running, ensures that we don’t just meet but exceed user expectations.

In the spirit of Murakami’s dedication to self-improvement, he shares, “No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or no matter how far you fall, you are never out of the fight.”

Similarly, our rapid iteration becomes a relentless pursuit of excellence, a continuous fight against complacency and a commitment to evolving with each stride.

This commitment to rapid iteration is not merely a process; it’s a mindset that fosters a culture of adaptability and a willingness to learn from every user interaction.

In the ever-evolving landscape of user preferences, this approach ensures that our product remains not only relevant but also excels in meeting the needs of our diverse user base.

Building a community

The beta phase is a unique opportunity to form a close-knit community of users who are not just passive consumers but active contributors to the product’s evolution. These feedback calls go beyond the transactional nature of traditional user interactions; they foster a sense of partnership.

The beta users become stakeholders in the product’s journey, co-creating its future and, in turn, enhancing their own experiences.

Taking inspiration from Murakami’s communal approach to running, as he mentions, “Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever,” our beta community becomes a collective of enthusiasts contributing to the shared narrative of our product’s journey.

It’s a collaborative run, where each user contributes to the collective stride, making the product’s journey a shared adventure.

The metaphorical marathon we undertake together symbolizes a commitment to progress, resilience in the face of challenges, and a collective determination to go the distance.

The product’s journey becomes more than just a series of updates – it’s a collaborative adventure where users actively shape and enrich the narrative, turning each stride into a step towards shared success.

Anticipation and excitement

There’s an undeniable sense of anticipation and excitement during these calls. As users share their experiences, suggestions, and even unexpected use cases, I can feel the collective energy that propels the feature toward its full potential.

It’s akin to witnessing the unfolding chapters of a captivating story, with each call revealing a new plot twist or a moment of revelation that moves the narrative forward.

Reflecting the shared anticipation experienced before a significant event, my excitement during feedback calls becomes a communal emotion – a prelude to the forthcoming triumphs and discoveries.

This shared energy becomes the driving force that pushes the feature forward, going beyond just finishing it to reach a point where it becomes a strong example of teamwork and innovation.

Wrapping up: Harmonizing innovation in beta phase

In conclusion, customer feedback calls during the beta phase are the heartbeat of innovation. The direct engagement with users, the unfiltered insights, the rapid iteration, the sense of community-building, and the evident anticipation make this phase one of the most interesting parts of my role as a product manager.

It’s not just about refining a feature; it’s about co-authoring its story with the very people it aims to serve.

As we embark on this journey together, the beta phase becomes a testament to the dynamic and collaborative spirit that defines the art and science of product management, mirroring the introspective and transformative journey that Murakami beautifully captures in his reflections about running.

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