How would you improve Google Maps?

Product manager

In Product Manager Interview, you may be asked to show your knowledge for existing products like Google Maps and technology. Also, you should prepare how you can improve existing products which can help users navigate existing issues.

Here is the most asked interview question and how to answer that question.

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How would you improve Google Maps?

First Decide your approach to this Google product improvement PM job interview question. Then, You can easily represent your approach with step by step guide.

Below is example and generic solution for the question

First Describe Google Maps

Google Maps allows user to go from Point A to Point B efficiently and provides several commute options such as driving, walking, public transport, and even like to ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft. User also uses Google Maps to search nearby places such as restaurants, gas stations, events, and things to do. 

Next Step is to 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, acquisition. etc.

Once interviewer provides clarification to above question, I would start by first laying out the approach I am going to take to 

(a) start by understanding who are users (personas) of Google Maps are,

(b) Pick one persona and what their goals or motivations are when using Google Maps. 

(c) Then I will identify pain points (user needs) and suggest new features/ solutions to increase customer satisfaction leading to better customer engagement

(d) next, I will prioritize new features based on cost vs benefit, (

e) Lastly I will summarize the overall analysis

A). Users of Google Maps

  • Private vehicle owners
  • Bikers
  • Commuters using public transport
  • Walkers
  • Tourists
  • People using ride sharing app like Uber, Lyft etc.

I am going to pick commuters using public transport such as train, bus, subways to go from point A to point B.

Commuters using Public Transport

Commuters hate when there is interruption is services that could be because of trains running late, major breakdown, change in train timing and route. People don’t like waiting even if the train or bus is late by couple of minutes. Also not all train and bus stations are same when it comes to amenities such as access to elevators, public bathrooms, and information booth. Commuters such as old age people, family traveling with infants, and physically challenged people need these information in advance to plan their trip efficiently.

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 commuter when there is interruption in the service

Google knows some very vital information about the commuter like at what time they start from home, from which station they take train, what time they head back home. These information can be used to send real-time train/bus service alert to commuter, so that they can prepare in advance, say may look for alternate route of mode of transportation. 

Train/ bus station information catalog showing all amenities and contact information. The catalog should get updated on regular interval,. So that commuter is aware of the change say elevator at station X is going through periodic maintenance

Collaboration platform that will categorize station based on people input on incidents such as number of theft, people fallen on track, people got stuck in between train and platform, or even broken machine. This will make people self-aware and will tell them to ride safe.        

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 and It’s Impact On User

SolutionImpact to User GoalComplexity
Personalized real-time notificationHigh: prompt and timely notification about delay or change in service will allow commuter to look for backup plan. They may opt to work remotely on that day. Also providing targeted notification is more valuable to userMedium: Google maps already capture information like train running late, where the congestion is.
Book Lyft/Uber for commuterLow: not all commuter have same affordability level, they may find Lyft/Uber expensive option.  Also not everyone has Uber/ Lyft account.  This may serve just a subset of overall commuter populationLow: Google Maps already shows ride sharing option to user when they search for route.
Information catalogHigh: having up to date information about the station will help commuter plan their tripMedium: easy to develop initially but require ongoing maintenance to make sure that information is up to date and accurate.
Train/Bus station ratingHigh: getting review from other commuter increases trust.High: will require developing collaborate feature in Google Maps that will allow other commuters to update and provide information such as how many ticket vending machine are working, which machine is not accepting cash, etc.

Analytic Conclusion

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 to start with these two solutions while also start brainstorming on building collaborative feature with in Google Maps as this will definitely change the way people see and use Google Maps today.

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