Erica Kitaev, senior director, Product Management, Thomson Reuters, explored what it means to delight customers with Caden Damiano in The Way of Product Design podcast. They discussed how emotion and sentiment can be indicators of product success in the latest episode.

Kitaev draws on her experience as a law firm partner to design products for Practical Law.

“A key part of my remit is innovation and innovation strategy,” Kitaev explained. “We draft expert content for attorneys. The ‘legal expert down the hall,’ is how we like to talk about what we do at Practical Law. And I came over as one of those ‘experts down the hall’ from a large AmLaw 100 firm, where I was a specialist in data privacy and data security.”

Damiano mentioned the stereotype of lawyers’ work as dry and boring: “I wanted to prove that there’s no such thing as boring products.”

“There are no boring problems,” Kitaev assured him. “Our job is to de-borify it.”

She noted Practical Law product managers and product designers focus on solving legal professionals’ problems by building products tailored to their needs. Their role is to help make attorneys’ workflows a more enjoyable process by developing products that help them practice more efficiently.

“One of the key pieces of attorney training is working with other attorneys, having access to other attorneys, and absorbing and leveraging their knowledge,” Kitaev explained. She said Practical Law was built on this idea.

“We seek to bring that attorney expertise into easily digestible content. In doing so, we jump start an attorney’s work. We have 600 or so attorney editors bringing that expertise to the customer. We on the product side are tasked with packaging up that expertise in the most efficient, effective ways.”

Damiano noted that “surprising and delighting customers” may be an overused phrase. But he asked Kitaev how this concept resonates for her.

“I would say it starts with a positive emotional reaction to the product experience,” Kitaev said. “Are we creating a positive interaction with this product such that it elicits good vibes? That sounds a little hokey.” But she says it breaks down to the importance of usability, ease, and aesthetics.

Damiano highlighted the value of customer interviews in assessing users’ workflows and their pain points. Kitaev shared how customers informed the launch of Practical Law Dynamic Tool Set and particularly the Dynamic Search Feature, which involved extensive customer research, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and “a robust feedback loop.”

“Personal experience is a tool in your toolbox, but it doesn’t replace talking to customers and doing the work,” Kitaev said. “It goes a long way toward creating hypothesis, but you have to be ready to be proven wrong. That’s such a critical lesson to learn. Be ready to not get it right and iterate.”

She said it’s especially true designing products for knowledge workers in demanding B2B environments, where there’s often pressure to get it right while operating efficiently. Kitaev enjoys the challenge and finds it rewarding to improve legal professionals’ workflows and access to information.

“The skills I learned as a lawyer were definitely transferable to product management: It’s investigation, analysis, problem solving and critical thinking,” she added. “And never a boring day.”