Alexandra Ciobotaru, Product Manager at Novorésumé, delivered an amazing presentation at Product-Led Festival. She took a deep dive into driving product at a StartUp, and went into what’s been in development in the last year for Novorésumé.

In her talk she shared lessons learned, and how her team took things from good to great while scaling. As always, the ever-curious PLA Community were ready with their questions and we've highlighted some of the best ones below...

Don’t worry though, if you missed the festival, grab yourself a membership plan to catch up on all the presentations. Plus, you can still join the discussion on our Slack community to continue the conversation.

Now, let’s get to those Q&As...

Q: What are the different customer feedback channels you use? How do you aggregate all of the feedback? And how does this feedback feed into your prioritizations decisions?

A: We listen to everything that we get from our customer support, we have a very loyal user base, and we also have people that write to us to inform us if they got a job with our resume template, which I think is fantastic.

We also have testimonials, social proof that we receive actively from users. We use Usabilla from our website to gather feedback, ask for surveys, gather info from, say, launch a new feature, to asking people what they think, if they like it, etc.

We listen to everything shared on social media. We're very active online. We're also launching a TikTok channel, so we gather all the feedback we can from the internet. We put all this feedback into documents; we use Jira and Miro to gather feedback.

We also have a customer excellence team that focuses on creating a feedback funnel, which means that very soon, we'll be able to pull all of this information into a funnel automatically. Moving forward to prioritization, we look at what fits into our product roadmap. We focus on quick wins to improve the experience, but if there are more technical or complex situations, we need to move them into the next quarter and focus on the OKRs that follow.

Q: How has the pandemic impacted your product, and how did you manage it?

A: When the pandemic came, we were distraught, and initially, we didn't see any significant activity at the end of March, beginning of April last year. We still had new accounts and customers, of course, but people were afraid.

In order to help our user base and people in general who had struggles with their jobs, we offered our product for free for ten days. Anyone who landed on our website could go Premium for a month, create an account and use the template as they needed.

It's interesting because, at the start of May, we saw an ascending trend. This was because people relaxed and realized that although this will be challenging, they did need to start applying for jobs. They did need to consider how they were going to continue with their application process. People then went back to our website, and we started to see increased conversion rates from May.

Q: What tools do you use to prioritize?

A: We use the old school MoSCoW. We start from a base of looking at the main functionalities we want to offer to solve the main problems we're trying to address. Suppose we're talking about the current offering. In that case, we have a prioritized backlog based on user feedback, so looking at the key features users have been requesting and prioritizing them based on how they're being used.

We have a worldwide user base, and in countries where resumes look a different way, we focus on how we can change those features based on geolocation.

Q: What was the rationale for going with the squad setup?

A: We knew there was already a core team focused on developing a specific project. For example, we always needed development, marketing, and product to set the direction of what we were going to build.

Some outcome squads were more technically complex, and then we have teams that don't require more help than getting a developer and a PO discussing the main features that we need to enhance. So, I'm not talking about building anything from scratch for all of the squads, but I am talking about making some enhancements or adding some new features or looking at the user feedback and implementing it within months.

To do that, we need to look at what we need to focus on. We have a couple of squads where we have colleagues working on multiple projects, and they know that they need to focus for two to three weeks as their priority. Then they can work on a project where we need to enhance the different platforms that we offer internally or a more technical setup.

Q: Do you have a formal product vision? If so, what form does that take? And do you have any advice for someone writing their first product vision in an early stage startup?

A: We do have a vision and mission of the company, and we have an entire wall dedicated to this. When it comes to product, it's a vision where we try to integrate as many offerings as we can under the same umbrella. Right now, we offer a resume-building platform and a cover letter writing option.

We focus on our users' immediate needs and what are the innovations that we could bring to the table derived from those. We look at what we can do based on the resources we have now and utilize the knowledge and research we've gathered in five years, and put them under the same umbrella. This is how we operate right now.

For someone writing a product vision in an early-stage startup, you should consider the mission you're trying to achieve because you might not know what the solution looks like right now, and don't worry, you shouldn't know everything from the beginning.

You should focus on the problems you're trying to solve, see if those are right, and you should talk with the users, create personas, and research what you believe the best audience for the product looks like. Talk to users and ask them questions: 'Is this really helping you? Will this be relevant five years from now? How do you think this is going to help you move forward?' This way, you can build a loyal customer base if that is your aim.

Once you start gathering this feedback, you can think about integrating it into a product vision. Because the more you talk with people about the ideas, the more you'll develop other pictures from that discussion.

This is something we've discovered with customer feedback. I've been asked how do we reach out and connect with users? Well, not only do they write to us, but we also use platforms such as User-testing, where we can put a mock-up up and ask them if they like it. If they don't see any value, you can realize that the idea you had might not be the user's best fit to solve their problem. So always consider different ways of getting that feedback in.