11. Win fans through customer support
As you look towards the launch of your product, there is one area that I know from our own experience is highly important: customer support.
Since the very early days of Perch, we've had as much positive feedback about the quality of our support as we do about the product itself. With a product aimed at web designers who are providing a service to their own clients, this is particularly important.
Whatever your product and audience however, fast and helpful support can become your best marketing with people keen to share the excellent experience they had.
12. Use the right tools for support
Support via your own email inbox may seem like the path of least resistance at launch. However, it can soon become difficult to manage with no way to mark an issue as resolved.
As soon as there is more than one person doing support a shared inbox can mean that some customers get answered twice and others not at all. Therefore, I recommend implementing some kind of support system from the outset.
One lightweight solution I frequently recommend is Snappy. This hosted solution essentially creates a management layer on top of email, meaning that you and customers can still use email if that is easiest.
However, Snappy gives you a way to mark issues as resolved, create standard replies and see statistics on queries incoming and answered.
13. Develop your product based on customer feedback
Launching with the smallest possible thing means you will get a lot of feature requests after launch, and your support email or forums will be a great place to talk to customers and find out what they would most like to see.
An added benefit of starting with a small product is that, instead of developing lots of features and hoping they will be useful to customers, you can develop your ongoing product roadmap, prioritising those features that will be useful to the largest group of users.
Using customer feedback can prevent you wasting your development time. At Perch, we can sometimes guess which feature requests will bubble up to the top of the list, but there have been many things that we would never have thought to develop back when we started.
Had we waited to launch Perch, we could have developed a whole host of features that no one would want or use.
14. Don't expect immediate results
If you're just starting out, I'm afraid I don't have a magic pill or any 'get rich quick' schemes to offer you. Launching a product takes time and hard work. While my own product has become successful enough that my company now purely focuses on that one product, it took four years of slowly moving away from client work to get here.
However, by setting yourself realistic expectations, putting in the hours, and learning as much as possible from other experienced product people, you can create and sell your own products.
Words: Rachel Andrew
Web developer, writer and speaker Rachel Andrew will be speaking at Generate London, which takes place 17-18 September.