Becoming Customer-Centric is Product Management

Kimberly Tzeng, Senior Product Manager at LearnVest, a subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual, shares how she shifted her team to a more collaborative and customer-centric approach to product management.

Kimberly worked at financial services giants, Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan before joining LearnVest, a fast growing fintech startup that was acquired by Northwestern Mutual. She helped create LearnVest’s experimentation program, but when Kimberly started managing the website of Northwestern Mutual, a 160 year old financial services company, experimentation was not so easy. She needed to change the product management process and the culture.

Before Kimberly started, the team would simply hand the engineering team a long requirements document and ask them to start building. Kimberly and her colleagues set out to shift the team to a more collaborative and experiment-driven approach.

Now, two-week sprint cycles enable the team to share their user research findings with key stakeholders and work in coordinate iterations. Kimberly also hosts experimentation meetings where product, design, engineering, and marketing come together to discuss new ideas.

With this more collaborative and customer-centric approach, the team ultimately achieved a 300% increase in leads on the website and they now push releases at least once every two weeks.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about experimentation, sprint planning, and customer-centricity.

Here are the highlights:

  • How Kimberly built an experimentation program at LearnVest (2:48)
  • Kimberly shares her approach to managing Northwestern Mutual's website (5:44)
  • How introducing experimentation influenced the culture at Northwestern Mutual (8:52)
  • How two-week sprint cycles accelerated release speed and improved collaboration (11:22)

Subscribe to the This Is Product Management