Keeping a close connection to your customers through your company's growth can be extremely challenging. We were delighted to chat with Lucie Buisson who was part of the company in its early days. Contentsquare offers unique cloud-based analytics helping optimise and improve users’ digital experience. In our interview, Lucie Buisson shares tips and best practices from her experience as the first PM employee up to CPO of a French Unicorn, Contentsquare. She provides great insights on the importance of involving customers at the product vision, product strategy and product building stage.
Hi Lucie, could you introduce yourself and your professional background?
I'm the Chief Product Officer at ContentSquare since over eight years. When I started, there were about 10 employees and now we are around 1500. ContentSquare was my first job, I started as a customer success manager. After six months, the CTO convinced our CEO and founder that they needed someone to drive the product, and they offered me the job. So with a team of 4, we started creating and leading the product, we are now 70 and we will reach 100 by the end of the year.
Amazing, you’ve lived such a fast growth and extensive fundraising runs up to reaching the status of French unicorn in 2020. Could you tell us about your role and how it has evolved?
Over the past 10 years, my role and my team changed so much. When we started, the product team was in charge of building the products but also of getting the first customers using the platform. So basically, we had a senior product manager, a designer and a product manager person.
Almost every morning I was going to customers, training them on how to use the platform, and in the afternoon, our team had brainstorming sessions on the usage of the product, our strategy etc. to create stickiness and frequent usage.
After two years we started to have a clear scaling strategy. As we grew, we made some significant changes, mainly in our hiring process, where we switched from hiring people with broad skills of knowledge and competencies to looking for people who have a lot of seniority and expertise in one specific area.
Moreover, one of the key challenges was to enforce smoothly this change within our team. My key learning was that while the team is growing, it is crucial to make sure that your team members are not losing their sense of purpose. When you only have two product managers, they are involved in everything in the roadmap. They know everything by heart. However, when you grow to 20 product managers as we currently have, it's critical that they don't feel that their work is solely a feature of the product. They need to know what problem they are solving, what value it brings to the customer and more generally to Content Square.
How does Contentsquare approach product discovery?
For a long time, we thought that we were making a discovery, but in fact, we were starting from a solution and trying to optimise the solution. Now, we switched to better understanding the problem space, seizing each opportunity and making sure we are working on our customer’s biggest pains.
Even if you find a fantastic solution to an average problem, the value created will be average. By responding to the most critical problem of your customers, the value you're going to create will be game-changing.
A further piece of advice I would have in terms of discovery is to try not to lose the connection you had on the first days with your customer because customers are the most important thing you have.
How do you involve your customers in your product decision or your product lifecycle?
I think there are different moments where you need to involve your customers :
At the product vision level
At the product strategy level
At the product building level.
Regardless of your company's size, it's essential to have a strong vision which is informed by your customer and resonate with them. As your vision concerns what is going to happen three to five years from now, you have to talk with your client’s executives level because they are the ones that have the same thinking process for their own company.
That’s why at Contentsquare, we have a customer advisory board. We meet with them two and three times per year, and we talk about how they see the world in the five years to come. What are their issues? What keeps them at night? What gets them super excited in the morning? We incorporate this feedback into what we see upcoming in the market. It's really about understanding what is game-changing for them in the coming years.
Therefore, we identify the opportunity we want to chase, and then we do a lot of co-building with customers. We identify the smaller problem we should tackle first and then use them to identify the best solution to this problem.
Thats’ super insightful thanks a lot, to finish what would be your last piece of advice to our junior product manager that maybe wants to join your team?
The most important for a product manager is to have two hats. Your first hat is the empathy hat, and the other is the convincing hat. It's crucial to know when to wear which one. I would really recommend you work on your listening abilities and learn how to first be a listener and then build upon your leadership abilities and learnings from customers to convince people. Show them you know where you are coming from and that you have the best solution for them.
Thank you, Lucie!
In our talk with Lucie, we got to deep dive into Contentsquare’s evolution from the birth of the product team, in 2014, to achieving its status of French Unicorn last year. She gave some insightful advice for any product manager on how to adapt your team as it grows, build a long term strategy and vision and balance your empathy and convincing hat in your job.