We all know that the foundation of any successful business is its customers. Carefully managing all aspects of your customers’ experiences is an absolute necessity in today’s world to stand out from the competition.
At Alida, we call this holistic approach Total Experience Management (TXM). TXM is made up of four experience pillars - today we’re focusing on Product Experience.
Product experience is a user’s perception of a product’s design, features, and functions, ultimately influencing product adoption and customer retention. Product experience takes into account a user’s interactions with your product along with their emotions, thoughts, expectations, and motivations.
The good news is that no matter where you might be right now, it’s possible to build a product experience strategy that’s right for your company, product, industry, and goals.
In this article, let’s look at what product experience can mean for your business, why you should focus on it, and how to build an effective strategy that’s fine-tuned to your business needs and customer expectations.
What Does Product Experience Mean for Your Business?
The last two years have been largely shaped by the pandemic. And in times when generating new business has become more tricky in some industries, finding ways to provide the best possible experience for your current customers is essential if you want to sustain growth and build a loyal following of brand ambassadors.
But how does the product experience play into the success of your business? Well, it turns out, it has a crucial impact on multiple levels, which we’ll explore below.
Keeping New Customers Happy Matters
Perhaps the most critical argument for investing in Product Experience is customer retention. Even with the world’s greatest sales records, growth can be quickly stymied by customer churn.
With an effective product experience strategy, you will gain the trust of your users throughout their customer lifecycle, creating loyal advocates and increasing their customer lifetime value in the process.
Bridge the Gap Between Assumption and Reality
80% of companies believe that they provide a good customer experience. And yet, only 8% of customers confirm this to be true.
That means there’s a massive gap in what most companies believe about their products and the reality of their customers’ experiences, which can create major problems when trying to keep customers happy and provide them with an experience that gets them to stay with your business for longer.
Identify Areas for Improvement
Your product is at the forefront of your company identity. Without a product that solves your customers’ problems and reflects their true needs, no amount of marketing, reach, or even past customer successes will be able to bridge the gap.
Because of that, you must be willing to invest in product experience in order to discover how you can make your product better. You need a process for testing your products with highly engaged advocates, which will help you find all of the issues and bottlenecks that prevent users from achieving the results they want. Something you also need to do is run surveys, focus groups, organize interviews, and build customer communities where you can quickly see what needs to be improved and prioritize your product experience improvements accordingly.
Over time, being persistent and strategic about improving your customer experience as it relates to your products will not just make your buyers happier; it will also provide you with an ever-increasing edge over the competition, making your product the obvious choice in your market and helping you become a leader in your field.
Building a Product Experience Strategy: Step by Step
Let’s look at some of the key steps you should go through when putting together a product experience strategy that will allow you to make decisions confidently.
Start with the Data
As mentioned before, every successful product experience must start with collecting and analyzing data to learn more about what your customers want and how your products can provide them with more value. Whether you’re launching a brand new product or want to improve an existing one, you will need to set up processes for collecting information about your customer behaviors, opinions, and preferences as they relate to your products.
But how does that look in practice?
A good starting point is to figure out what type of data you want to collect about your products. And a big part of that will depend on the type of product and its use cases.
For instance, if it’s a digital product, you would set up user tracking that provides you insights about how customers use the product and what kind of challenges they face. If it’s a consumer packaged goods (CPG) product, you would rely more on surveys, product testers, and focus groups to see how your target audience responds to the product.
Next, you’ll want to choose metrics that shed light on how your product is performing and how your users are enjoying the experience. As you learn more about how your customers are interacting with your product, it will enable your team to identify the most pressing challenges and prioritize them accordingly.
As you become better at recognizing where the biggest friction points are, you will avoid becoming complacent. You will always have a way to track changes as your audience evolves, expand the product’s features, or fine-tune the primary functions of the product according to the feedback you receive.
Get Specific Answers Through Feedback
Most companies today are beginning to understand the power of talking to customers to gain ideas for marketing, product development, and positioning. Your customers want to be heard, and collecting feedback can close the gap between their expectations and what your product delivers.
And while feedback collection is an important step in the right direction, you must be deliberate about what questions you ask and how you use the answers you receive in order to reap the maximum benefits of user feedback.
Asking specific and action-driven questions will allow you to be more confident in the decisions you make as a result. In order to collect relevant data and obtain meaningful feedback, you need to set clear objectives and develop questions around a specific feature, UI aspect—or anything else you may want to learn. Otherwise, data without context can become little more than noise.
However, while specificity is an integral part of collecting feedback for product experience, that doesn’t mean you should be restrictive in how the users can answer. Consider opting for a quick, text-based survey if your objective is to increase the volume of responses or response rate—though keep in mind, this may restrict the way customers can express themselves. You may want to include one or two open-ended questions and allow the users to expand on why they feel one way or another, giving you much deeper insights about what you might need to focus on and validate your assumptions.
Allow Your Team to Experiment
Collecting data and feedback are pillars of a successful product and a good product experience. But sometimes, you can’t rely on data or feedback to figure out what to do next. Instead, your team will need to develop ideas that can be evaluated and potentially implemented to see if they work.
Unfortunately, many companies end up creating a culture where development teams are afraid to take risks and experiment with ideas that initially seem to be unconventional. If there’s no process for evaluating these ideas in an objective and safe setting, many team members will feel hesitant about coming forward with product experience improvements that might drive innovation.
To combat this, continually encourage your employees to work on independent projects, which can be a powerful way to boost productivity and raise morale, in addition to providing the conditions for breakthroughs to occur.
But at the same time, you can’t have your teams implementing features and UX changes on a whim, as that would quickly result in chaos and make your products virtually unusable. So what’s the alternative approach?
Ideally, you want to verify each new idea that’s brought for discussion in a specific and measurable test to gauge how users will respond to new changes. As you collect more data, you can either abandon the idea or run more tests, expanding and developing the idea further to suit your product, audience, and goals.
While experimenting and collecting customer feedback simultaneously, remember to funnel all feedback to and from your product team for them to actually act on it. This creates a feedback loop between the customers and your product team and ensures that no incoming feedback goes unnoticed and your customers know you’re not just talk; you really do listen and care about their opinions.
Instead of operating in the dark, product teams can use the feedback to have more confidence in their decisions and develop ideas that are closely aligned with what customers truly want to seeOver time, a series of seemingly minor ideas can have a huge accumulative effect, continually adding up to improve how your users engage with your products and enhancing the results they can achieve.
Reevaluate Your Main Goal
Finally, as you make changes to your product experience and discover new ways to improve it, make sure that you remember to stay on track in terms of the ultimate goal you want to achieve.
Most products have the core
idea or USP that makes it appealing to the audience. This core idea can evolve over time, but as your product scales, you need to continually evaluate whether the changes you’re making don’t detract from the primary purpose, as that can end up alienating your audience and making your product more difficult to use.
While it’s a good idea to continuously improve your product experience, additional features or usability changes should only be implemented if they end up making the core functions of the product more immersive and effective. At least if data doesn’t tell you otherwise.
Product experience is an aspect of customer experience that most businesses don’t pay enough attention to when they can take advantage of if they want to stand out and ultimately gain the loyalty of their customers. If your users are happy, marketing, sales, and customer retention become much easier since you have a built-in advantage over most other solutions.
And the good news is that making gradual improvements to your product experience is possible at every level. So whether you’re building a product or want to improve something that’s already relatively successful, you can use actionable, relevant data and insights to drive your decisions and all but guarantee positive outcomes.