What to do with special requests?

When you are working on prioritizing a roadmap, you will certainly receive requests for new features coming from customers (or the commercial team) that, explicitly or not, come with a threat that if we don’t build this feature we will lose the customer. On the other hand, if you meet this demand to the detriment of the roadmap you’ve planned together with your team, you are risking delaying the delivery of important features to the rest of your customers and not meeting the strategic goals of the software product owner.

What to do?

The answer to this question depends a lot on your product and your client base. I’ll explain this answer with an example.

At Locaweb, we had two email marketing products. One of them was called Email Marketing Locaweb (very original name, hum?), and the other one was the All In Mail. To understand the dimension of each product and the type of customer that each one of them attends, here are some figures.

  • Email Marketing Locaweb: 30,000 customers and 0.5 Bi msg/month
  • All In Mail: 400 customers and 3 Bi msg/month

Through these figures, we can see that although the E-mail Marketing from Locaweb has 75 times more customers than the All In Mail, it sends only 16,7% from the total messages sent with All In Mail. In other words, Locaweb’s Email Marketing holds much more customers than All In Mail, but they are small customers that use the product very little compared to All In Mail’s customers.

For that reason, the product manager of Locaweb’s E-mail Marketing cannot afford to attend to special requests. The product manager cannot favor the request of one single customer to the detriment of the other 29,999. The product manager, in this case, must be concerned with implementing features that attend as many customers as possible.

On the other hand, All In Mail product manager not only can but must pay full attention to special requests. There are few customers, but all of them are special and demand customized attention. The product manager must be careful and not implement features that will be used by only one customer. However, requests from one customer, especially the bigger ones, will always be a priority in this scenario.

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