The Unseen Bridge

The Unseen Bridge

The Unseen Bridge: Why Product Managers Should Become Customers of Their Products

In this blog, we head from Sulaiman Ahmed, a seasoned Product Manager and Scrum Master with nearly a decade of experience in the tech industry who currently serves as the Senior Product Manager for the Encounter Product Area at RELI, supporting the TSA – ESVP contract.


Specializing in the synergy of user experience, technology and business, Sulaiman champions a user-centric approach, leveraging iterative methodologies to ensure the delivery of high-quality products with unwavering transparency to his customers. Additionally, Sulaiman is the founder and CEO of Porta Lota, an innovative company dedicated to offering portable bidets for travelers seeking cleanliness without compromise.


In the ever-evolving landscape of product development, the distinction between those who create and those who consume is often clear-cut. Yet, one role blurs these lines with the potential to transform product excellence – the product manager.


As product managers, our journey is not just about leading product development, but rather, it is about immersing ourselves in the very experience we aim to sell. The argument for product managers becoming customers of their products is compelling, drawing on principles of empathy, firsthand experience and continuous improvement.


The Empathy Angle

Empathy stands at the core of user-centric design and development. It’s about understanding the needs, frustrations and desires of our users. By becoming customers of our products, we transcend traditional market research, embodying the user experience (UX) ourselves. This firsthand insight is invaluable. According to Nielsen Norman Group (1), empathy in UX design leads to products that resonate more deeply with users by addressing their actual needs and pain points.


The Path to Firsthand Experience

There’s a nuanced understanding that comes from using your product in a real-world context. This firsthand experience uncovers intricacies and issues that may not be evident through user feedback or analytics alone. A study published in the “Journal of Product Innovation Management” highlights how direct product experience by managers fosters a deeper understanding of the product’s use and the potential improvements that could be made (2).


Continuous Improvement Through Customer Eyes

Adopting the customer’s perspective enables product managers to identify with the customer’s journey comprehensively. This alignment not only aids in recognizing the current pain points but also in anticipating future needs. Jeff Bezos famously champions the idea of being “obsessively customer-focused,” which has been a cornerstone of Amazon’s innovation strategy (3). When product managers use their products, they can iterate on their offerings with precision, ensuring that each update or feature addition directly enhances the user experience.


Bridging the Gap

By stepping into the shoes of the customer, product managers bridge the gap between development and use. This approach aligns product features with user expectations, streamlining the development process towards what truly matters to the user. Furthermore, it fosters a culture of accountability and commitment within the product team, as decisions are now made from a basis of personal experience and understanding.



The journey of becoming a customer of your product is transformative for product managers. It shifts perspectives, enhances empathy, and aligns product development with user needs. In a world where customer satisfaction is paramount, embracing the customer experience firsthand is not just beneficial—it’s essential. As product managers, let’s lead by example, becoming the most informed customers of our products. In doing so, we pave the way for products that not only meet expectations but exceed them, crafting experiences that are truly by the customer, for the customer.



  1. Nielsen Norman Group. “The Importance of Empathy in UX Design.”
  2. “Journal of Product Innovation Management,” study on the impact of direct product experience on product development.
  3. Jeff Bezos’s shareholder letters and public statements on Amazon’s customer-focused innovation strategy.