Product Management and Customer Service

Because they are often close to the customer and have the ability to effect the roadmap, Product Managers in (in B2B companies) often get pulled in to customer support issues. Having seen this quite a few times, I’m feeling the need to write down my thoughts on Product’s role, with regard to Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

So here it is. When it comes to SLAs, Product is responsible for:
1) Defining what the market requirement is with regard to service levels (market expectations)
2) Working with MarComm to effectively present SLAs to the market, including packaging/branding as appropriate.

Product’s role is not:
1) To deliver on the SLAs (Service Delivery)
2) To track performance vs. the SLAs (Service Delivery)
3) To review performance with the client (Sales / Acct Mgmt)

Re: #3 above, this probably varies with company size. In a large company, it makes sense for product to be involved with such account reviews, but not to lead them. In a start-up, I think it’s a very good idea to have the product guy act as the account manager for early and “best” customers.

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