Here is my approach to this product manager job interview question.
Describe Google Maps - Google Maps is an application that helps a user to commute from one place to another by providing him with the most efficient, shortest-possible direction to their destination on the basis of their mode of transport. It allows the user to search places such as restaurants, shopping malls, gas stations, and even helps the user by providing a variety of options on the basis of reviews left by other users.
Ask Clarifying Questions from the Interviewer
Is the goal to improve the entire platform or a specific feature?
Is the improvement channel specific - Web or Mobile?
What's the objective of improvement? - engagement, increase in revenue, etc
Next, I would start by :
1. Understanding the user base of Google Maps.
2. Understand their expectations and goals while using Google Maps.
3. Identifying user needs and suggest features/solutions to increase user
engagement and customer satisfaction.
4. Prioritizing cost vs. benefit features.
5. Summarising the overall analysis.
Google Maps Users :
Private vehicle owners
Commuters using public transport and cab sharing apps like Uber
Now, pick any user base from the above list, analyse their needs and recognise the problems faced by them. I am going with Private vehicle owners going from, let’s say, one city to another. Such commuters would want to know the estimated time to reach their destination, availability of resources along the way, like gas stations, eateries, availability of restrooms etc. Commuters travelling with infants or old people would need such information in order for them to have a smooth, comfortable ride.
Considering the above pain points that I just mentioned, here are few feature/ use cases that Google Maps can offer to delight the commuters
Personalized real-time notification to commuters when there is an interruption in the service (this is especially useful to people commuting daily from home to office and back). Google knows some very vital information about the commuter like at what time they start from home, what time they head back home. This information can be used to send real-time traffic status to alert the commuter, so that they can prepare in advance, and look for alternate routes to save time.
For commuters who use public transport, Google Maps can provide them with information regarding breakdown of services, or interruptions in their current mode of transport. Google can help them book a cab/uber auto to the nearest alternate train/bus station, so that they can reach their destination on-time.
Collaboration platform that will categorize stations based on people’s input on incidents such as number of theft, people fallen on track, people have got stuck in between trains and platforms, or even broken machines. This will make people self-aware and will tell them to ride safe.
Commuters must be made aware of the new routes being created so that they can reach their destination through separate, more convenient train/bus routes without much commotion.
Now, I will prioritize the solutions across the user goal and complexity of development. The user's goals is to reach from point A to point B efficiently with most up to date information.
|Solution ||Impact to User Goal||Complexity|
|Personalized real time notification||High: prompt and timely notification about delay or change in service will allow commuters to look for backup plans. They may opt to work remotely on that day. Also providing targeted notification is more valuable to user ||Medium: Google maps already captures information like, traffic on any particular route, road blockage, construction, or wherever general public congestion is, like in market places.|
|Information catalog||High: having up to date information about the routes will help commuter plan their trip||Medium: easy to develop initially but require ongoing maintenance to make sure that information is up to date and accurate.|
|Visitor/Commuter Ratings||High: getting review from other commuters increases trust.||High: will require developing collaborative features in Google Maps that will allow other commuters to update and provide information such as how many Toll booths are working, which gas stations are non functional, or accept e-wallet transfer etc.|
8. From the table, the two features that provide the highest impact for the lowest effort are :
(a) personalized real-time notification, and
(b) Information catalog.
My recommendation would be to start with these two solutions while also start brainstorming on building collaborative features within Google Maps as this will definitely change the way people see and use Google Maps today.