In the world of product development, understanding and valuing the voice of customers is paramount. For Jeff Ledoux, a key motivation for joining Pathify was the company’s unwavering commitment to listening to institutions and incorporating their insights into their offerings. As a Product Manager with a background in the Web Applications Team at Johnson & Wales University, Jeff witnessed firsthand the significance of collaborating closely with customers to deliver exceptional products.

At Pathify, Jeff continues his mission of partnering with institutions to create a cutting-edge product that truly resonates with users. One of the essential tools in this process is “Canny,” Pathify’s powerful product feedback platform. By giving customers a platform to voice their opinions on the Engagement Hub’s functionality and vote on other users’ suggestions, Canny empowers the community to collectively shape the product’s direction.

In the first part of this illuminating Q&A series, we delve deep into Jeff’s insights on building products at Pathify and the pivotal role Canny plays in steering the course of the Engagement Hub. Through analyzing and prioritizing customer suggestions, Jeff and his team ensure future product roadmaps align with the genuine needs and desires of the user base.

Stay tuned for the upcoming parts of this three-part series, where we take you behind the scenes, exploring the inner workings of the Recipe Library and Flow. Join us on this journey as we unravel the secrets behind creating a modern, personalized and customer-centric product experience at Pathify.

This interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Adam Miller: How would you describe your role to a customer or prospect?

Jeff Ledoux: I’d say my main job is understanding the technology and business strategy at Pathify and using it to facilitate coordination with the product team. I also do a lot of user research to gain insights into user behavior, pain points and needs. I work with customers, users and internal teams to gather requirements for new features we launch. Once we build those features, I work with marketing and sales to develop go-to-market strategies, positioning and messaging. They play a major role in making sure the product is effectively introduced to the target market and customers.

AM: What do you like most about your job?

JL: I like how varied it is day-to-day. Depending on the day I could be interfacing with customers. I could be deep into scoping out new features for the next few quarters coming up or doing sprint planning. Every day is just very, very different. And I think that’s what keeps it fresh and keeps the gears going.

AM: Can you describe how you like to work with institutions?

JL: I particularly enjoy the deep-dive conversations we have with institutions. Oftentimes it will go something like this: the customer asks an account executive if we’re going to get a Pages revamp or whatever, and my response back to them is often “what does that mean,” because we often go back to the customer asking for more detail on what they desire.

It’s an interesting process, right? Product has its own objectives and matches those up against discussions coming from our Product and Revenue team meetings where we prioritize tasks. Then there’s this whole other component of “here’s what our customers are looking for,” and a lot of it goes into Canny. I like exchanging ideas with institutions and either confirming we’re already ahead of the curve on what they want or being part of an organization nimble enough to pivot when needed.  

AM: You worked on the client side prior to coming to Pathify. What was it like working with us as a client?

JL: I often said to people Pathify was the best vendor I had the opportunity to work with, mainly because the community and lines of communication were very open. Even if I sent a support ticket in, I felt like I was heard, which is really important. Pathify was smaller at the time and sometimes the customer’s voice gets diluted as the company grows. But we still pride ourselves on making sure those lines of communication are always open for people if they want to chat with us. Having the amount of customers we do right now, and the company size we are is absolutely insane. I had a customer reach out to me recently saying “hey, this thing doesn’t work, should it work this way?” directly to me, and I said, “no, let’s change it.” What other companies are this open to feedback?

AM: Yeah, for sure. So how does feedback factor into the back roadmap?

JL: Huge. There are things we as a company think are important and there are things a customer deems important, and we have to balance it. Sometimes, things we thought were important to a customer, they don’t even think are important and we need to rework our priorities. It doesn’t happen often because a lot of the time we build our roadmap based on conversations and what we hear from the market, but every now and again, we hear something where we should look into that feature a little bit more, or tweak the way we think it should work.

AM: How would you define Canny?

JL: Canny is a website where you go to make feature requests. It is not the place where you go to make feature requests that die on the vine. My team is there, and I specifically am in there almost every single day responding to people. I’ve got to. I can’t respond to all of them, because there are a lot of requests coming through, but I at least read all the requests and for those I respond to, I’ll put them into research mode. 

AM: How does Canny fit into your workflow?

JL: I make it my morning ritual to grab some coffee, check my email and see what requests are in Canny. Sometimes, I’ll make a comment or put the feedback under research to see if it gets votes because I’m thinking it might be something other schools want. I think people need to know because I was a customer, I don’t just think of Pathify as a thing to build, but I think back to when I worked at JWU, I’d ask myself if this is something I would have wanted. If it is, it carries more weight because I put my customer hat on.

AM: Can you share some ideas you like from Canny?

JL: The ones I get excited about the most are when someone sends in an accessibility request. At JWU, my work revolved around making sure things were accessible. And it’s a pretty important thing for me because we get them and I’m glad there are other people in the higher ed space thinking about accessibility, so I take it back to my team and we work through it.

AM: What’s your vision for the future of the Engagement Hub?

JL: One of my biggest priorities right now is to grow the Recipe Library over the next 18-24 months. I don’t think we do that without customer input. Our list of Recipes is massive, but hearing from customers and prospects about what they’re looking for in the Engagement Hub will drive the roadmap. 

AM: Alright, thanks for your time!

Customer Story: Tallahassee Community College

Much of Pathify’s product direction comes from direct conversations between customers and the product team. Bret Ingerman, Vice President of IT at Tallahassee Community College, collaborated with Pathify on the development of Digital Wallet, a mobile ID replacing physical student cards.

Due to Pathify’s willingness to work hand-in-hand with TCC, the institution not only received a feature it long desired, but a compelling hook for clients to keep students in-portal.

“We wanted a company that was going to listen and understand the difference between a partnership and transactional relationship,” Ingerman said. “We wanted someone who would listen to us because when you have a partnership with a company that listens, good things happen.”

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