What is product experience and how to improve it?
Product experience is everything. We’re not being dramatic; it really is! Whether your bread and butter are in the cloud, or you dabble in the digital as part of your gambit, providing a positive product experience is how you compete – and stay competitive.
So, let’s take a moment to look at what product experience is, why it’s so important, and how you take steps to improve it. If you’re really lucky, we’ll even throw in a few benchmarking examples for good measure.
What is product experience?
Product experience is the sum total of every interaction, engagement and touchpoint a customer has with your product. It’s their perception of you, based on the whole customer journey within the four walls of a product – from the first time they log in, to their very last use.
A component of customer service, product experience is defined in terms of customer perception, and can encompass everything from sensory design and usability, to speed and customisation. And because most purchasing decisions are now led by customers trying a product out for themselves – through free trials or freemium business models – getting the product experience right is crucial.
If a product experience consistently falls short of customer expectations, your brand reputation (and market share) is likely to suffer; sometimes, irreparably. Best not get to that point then, right?
Embracing design thinking in your product development – factoring in how a customer is going to experience that product – is an important part of providing a top-notch, all-singing, all-dancing, totally awesome product experience.
A good product experience is one that has accessibility, convenience, resilience, durability, functionality, personalisation, design, learnability, information density, productivity, stability and performance in mind. It’s one that understands the full human experience of the product, from start to finish. Get that right, and you’ll be onto a winner. Not much to ask, is it?
Now, let’s tackle why the heck it matters so much.
Why is product experience important?
Our modern world is built on digital experiences. We’ve gone full-on digital revolution, and there’s no hiding from it. There’s also no getting away from the fact that in today’s increasingly competitive market, only the customer-centric will survive.
When you design a product with your customer in mind, and the intrinsic value your product can bring – and keep bringing – into their lives, you increase the customer lifetime value (CLV). And because it costs less to keep hold of existing customers than it does to entice new ones, increasing CLV is a great growth tactic.
A poor product experience will either drive users away entirely, or create a whole heap of resentment around having to use your product in the first place. But with the right product experience, customers will be more loyal, more likely to recommend you to friends and family, and more likely to use your product time and again.
Product experience vs. customer experience
The biggest difference between product experience and customer experience is its specificity: the customer experience relates to every touchpoint of the customer journey with a particular brand and each one of its services, while product experience is solely derived from satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the product itself.
While the two are most definitely different, both are equally important. Understanding customer experience helps you to make the right decisions for the people you’re serving and selling to. In fact, we have our very own, totally intuitive customer experience (CX) survey software that helps you to put customer experience at the heart of your culture.
Product experience and customer experience go hand-in-hand, and a dedicated focus on each can really help you to stay ahead of the competition and carve out a solid standing for your brand in an oversaturated market.
Who is product experience relevant to?
Defining the product experience should always be a company-wide priority. Project management teams tend to take the lead, but many facets of an organisation need to be involved:
- Designers share responsibility for optimising the product experience from a customer perspective;
- Product developers build the actual product in line with the designs of the UX team;
- Marketing develops the content and messaging that entices new customers, supports them on their journey, and keeps them up-to-date with developments;
- Customer support, sales, and account management teams capture valuable feedback, identify any friction points, and see what’s working well;
- Even customers have a crucial role to play – giving feedback, filling out surveys, conducting usability testing, and attending product focus groups.
The point is, product experience cannot be effectively maximised in silos: it’s relevant to just about every team in your organisation, and each one has a part to play. That’s why it’s crucial to involve multiple teams and set shared goals.
How to build a product experience strategy
A product experience strategy will help you and your team to remain focused throughout the product design process. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the tips below:
- Pinpoint your target audience
You won’t get very far with your product experience if you don’t know who you’re designing it for. Rather than building for non-existent problems, or needs that you think someone might have, you need to cultivate an in-depth understanding of your target customers. Think about their wants and needs, and design with them in mind. Here, user research is critical.
- Find your why
What are you trying to solve? Why does it matter? Is it a problem that’s worth solving? Will people care about it? Will they pay money for it? Getting to the heart of what your product is setting out to achieve is a core part of designing a product experience strategy.
- Set long-term goals
Keeping teams motivated to deliver the best possible product experience is easier if you have an ideal product vision that’s clearly communicated. Defining why you’re creating the product, and where the business is going, will help to keep people striving for that inspirational product vision.
- Collaborate for coherence
Every single person within your organisation should have a decent understanding of the direction of your product, and every team involved in its design and direction should be collaborating on a central vision.
- Define the essentials
If you want to avoid bloating your product offering with unnecessary features, you need to keep your focus on the ideal end-user experience. What will make for a positive product experience? It’s that simple. You really don’t need to tack on all the bells and whistles you can find to add value, as they will only detract from the product experience overall.
- Launch, learn, iterate
You’re not going to have the perfect product experience from day one, and that’s okay. Once you’ve executed your strategy and your product is out there, you can seek feedback, build on your strategy, and create new iterations as you go.
How to improve product experience
No matter where you’re at in your product journey, improving the product experience is always possible – with the right insights. You need to understand how your customers feel about your product experience, what they want from it, and how they’re using it.
- Set priorities in line with customer feedback
You might be used to setting priorities based on carefully developed company goals, but if you want to create a product experience that’ll get people talking (and coming back to you, time and time again), you need to take the needs of your users into serious consideration. Factor in their feedback, design around their deepest desires (maybe not deepest), and allow product experience to drive priorities.
- Collect feedback – and act on it!
Whether you employ focus groups, surveys or interviews, or draw on the feedback of your customer-facing teams, you need to get a feel for how your customers engage with your product. Once you know how your customers feel about a particular product, you can act on that feedback to ramp up your customer-centricity – but this shouldn’t be a one-off exercise. Keep it consistent.
- Leverage analytics for greater insight
One of the benefits of being part of a data-driven digital world is the availability of meaningful data. Through the use of targeted analytics – that collect, aggregate and analyse customer behaviour – you can gain a real insight into how people are using your product, understand what’s driving their behaviours within that product, and use that data to make informed decisions that ultimately improve the product experience as a whole.
- Engage, engage, engage!
At the risk of repeating ourselves, it’s much less costly to nurture existing customers than to entice new ones. So when you have people using your product, you can’t just leave them to it and hope for the best. Onboarding is critical: people need to know how your product works, when new features are added, and how they access every last piece of the puzzle.
Product experience examples
Of the thousands of products that enter the market each year, around 70-80% of them fail. Bummer. We don’t want yours to be one of them, so let’s take a look at who’s doing the product experience right, and what you can learn from them.
As a giant of the streaming world (over 209 million subscribers in more than 190 countries, the big show-off), Netflix has a product team to be proud of. Understanding the value of retention, the product team focuses on customer retention through the application of consumer science. Its product team consistently tests new ideas with its customers, and measures engagement with its products – allowing engagement and retention to drive product success. Personalisation and original content are both key to Netflix’s product strategy.
A company that often makes its way into our ‘beacon of light’ list – and for good reason – is Google. With a technology-driven product development strategy, innovation is its beating heart. But rather than follow a rigid development process for its products, product manager Joe Faith famously said that Google favours a set of guiding principles. These include a focus on the user, thinking ‘10x’ (improving something by ten times, rather than 10%), and launching and iterating based on user feedback.
How can Forsta help?
Product launches are a scary business – but shouldn’t they be thrilling, instead? Well, that all comes down to how much info you have beforehand!
We believe in tracing the gap in the market before you try to fill it, which is why our product experience management software has been designed to test your market (and determine if there’s a market there at all), inform critical decisions around pricing, packaging, and all that jazz, and help your launch to feel less like a leap of faith.
We can map the market, allow you to see consumers in action, and put your branding to the test – all in the service of a great product experience for your customers.
And if you’ve already launched? Our product experience software can help you to find areas in need of refinement – from the design of a website, to the flow of a checkout system.
Ready to take fear out of the equation? Arrange a free demo.
Make sure your product is fighting fit
So, there you have it: the lowdown on what makes for a great product experience, why it matters, and how to develop a strategy to help you get there. You should be feeling a bit more clued up by now, but if it all sounds a bit much, there’s loads of ways our team can help.
Go on, give us a challenge. We live for it!
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