6 Strategies for Building a Winning Product Experience (And Why it Matters!)

...

Nailing the product experience is one of the best things you can do to increase customer satisfaction, retain customers, and grow your business. Find out how!

A great customer experience is what sets your company apart — it can increase customer satisfaction, retention rates, and the potential for upsells. A bad experience can spell disaster for your company’s bottom line. And those experiences are tied directly to how consumers interact with your product on a day-to-day basis.

When you’re able to nail the product experience, you set customers up to feel the real-world value of your product at each stage of their journey. It’s this kind of continual value that builds the type of engaged relationships that support your company’s growth.

So a winning product experience not only provides value to customers but also helps your business. But providing a consistent experience requires a targeted, data-driven approach to both understanding customer expectations and anticipating their future needs. Combined with a solid process and a clear sense of purpose for your team, delivering value through the product experience is one of the most high-leverage things you can do.

1. Set Up Your Analytics Infrastructure

Gaining insight into customers’ wants, needs, and behavior, is at the core of delivering something of real value. That’s why product analytics are so important — they provide additional context that allows you to truly understand what customers need from your product.

Building out your analytics infrastructure starts by determining the specific metrics you’ll use to measure the product experience. Use tools like Amplitude to track user behavior, plan out releases, and identify areas for improvement.

Data visualization tools like Dasheroo and Geckoboard are also great options for making these key metrics and insights visible to your team.

Example dashboard via Geckoboard

When you’re able to keep track of how these metrics change over time, it also works to keep the customer top of mind for your team. Lots of people will get tunnel vision as they work through all the required tasks to complete a project, so being able to step back and track their impact is a great way to maintain a clear sense of how their contributions add value to your product over time.

2. Nail Down Your Product Positioning Early

Positioning helps you nail down your target audience and communicate your product’s unique value to them. It’s a strategic approach for understanding how your product or service enters the market and outcompetes what’s currently available.

Market research and competitor analysis are core tactics of a solid positioning strategy. Both will help you identify gaps in what’s currently available for consumers in your target market and how your new product or feature will fill those gaps.

Positioning expert April Dunford has an excellent template to help you get started mapping out your own positioning:

Product positioning template via April Dunford

When you document your product positioning, it not only helps you understand how to communicate your product’s unique value to customers but also gives your team the context they need to understand how their tasks contribute to this goal. That’s why it’s important to include positioning in your product strategy as well.

Let’s say your new product is meant to increase overall engagement in new customers and open up the top of the sales funnel. Including the metrics you want to track, such as customer acquisition costs (CAC) or net new monthly recurring revenue (MRR), will help ground the positioning process in customer data.

When you define these metrics, you also show the team that you have a concrete goal in mind for how the product will make an impact on your company’s bottom line.

3. Keep Customer Feedback Loops Small

Talking to customers is one of the best ways to learn more about their needs and expectations. While product analytics will help you track general trends and patterns, being able to connect with your customers on a one-to-one basis will ground the metrics you track in the real-world problems people face every day.

Start by identifying key points along the customer journey to understand the user’s experience with your product in the real world. Then, ask targeted questions to learn more about how you can make that experience more valuable. Let’s say you’ve found that certain customers stop engaging with your product once they’ve finished your onboarding flow. Some example questions might be:

  • What stops you from using the product at this point?
  • Was there anything you wish you’d learned at the start of using our product?
  • What kind of things would make it easier to continue using our product?
  • How do you think we could prepare you better in the future?

These user research questions are a powerful tool for learning more about the overall product experience, so it’s important that you get them right.

Try using live chat to maintain connections with customers via your sales and support teams as well. These relationships are the key to getting open and honest feedback from users and a great way to decrease the difficulty of reaching out for a call.

Just keep in mind that when you receive customer feedback, you need to document and share it with your team as soon as possible. Every member of your team will bring a different perspective to the data, which helps you understand the product experience through a wider lens.

4. Create Well-Defined Roles for Your Team

Moving efficiently through the product development life cycle requires a clear understanding of each team member’s responsibilities, as well as a high-level view of the project as a whole. Defining what each person is accountable for helps make it easier to move through their work autonomously.

Start by documenting your role structure in a product or team charter to make sure everyone knows who can answer questions about different types of information. Use the RACI model to clearly define what is required from each member of your team:

  • Responsible: The person responsible for executing on the work
  • Accountable: The person who is accountable for whether or not the work is completed
  • Consulted: The person who needs to be consulted before the project is complete
  • Informed: The person who needs to be kept in the loop about process

Here’s an example of what that might look like for your project:

RACI matrix via CIO

Each member of the team, from project executives and managers to analysts and developers can easily understand how their role fits into the organization at a glance. Increasing visibility into everyone’s contributions in this way cuts down on confusion and makes executing on individual responsibilities simpler, even as your company scales.

Another way to increase visibility into each person’s work is to use product management tools like Atlassian and Trello. These tracking platforms provide a clear picture of how work is progressing and helps identify any potential bottlenecks before they can negatively impact the product experience.

5. Build Out a Concrete Product Development Process

The workflows you use throughout the product development process make executing on tasks easier for your team. By defining a concrete process for your team, you provide clarity into how each piece of the work adds value to your finished product.

Start by mapping out the product development process for your team. Then, document what happens at each stage. This makes moving through projects as seamless as possible and cuts down on potential conflicts and confusion in the future.

Stages of Product Development

  1. Ideation: Coming up with ideas for new products
  2. Validation: Validating those product ideas with customer data
  3. Planning: Organizing all the work required to build your product
  4. Active development: Executing on the work to build your product
  5. User testing: Sourcing feedback from a small group of target users before release
  6. Product release: Launching the product to your entire market
  7. Analysis: Looking at the impact of your product release

When you map out the product development process and revisit these processes on an ongoing basis, it’s easier to tie every task or action back to your overall strategy or a specific customer need. So much of the product experience is built on whether or not you’re able to deliver on the value customers expect from your product, so a clear sense of how that value grows and evolves before it ever reaches the customer is crucial.

Setting a defined product development process ensures that you don’t spend a lot of time executing on ideas that customers won’t engage with upon release.

6. Foster a Culture That Values Experimentation

Customers aren’t static; their needs and expectations change regularly. Delivering continual value as the goal post moves will require consistent testing and experimentation from your team. Helping your team feel comfortable with this experimentation requires a company culture of trust and open communication as well as a clear sense of the product development process.

One of the best ways to experiment with the product experience is to add value to existing products as well as new ones. Run A/B tests to make small changes and learn more about what kind of experiences are truly engaging for your target customer. These tests also help validate your hypotheses about customer needs and desired outcomes by making it easy to track how engagement changes with each release.

A phased testing methodology can be one way to execute on these tests:

Phased Testing Methodology via Taplytics

This four-step process helps your team structure experiments to learn as much as possible about the customer with every test.

If you’re worried about the time and resources it takes to run these kinds of tests, try a lean approach to product development. This approach helps you maximize the impact of your actions by streamlining the work your development team does while also keeping them engaged with products you’ve previously released.

Throughout these tests, look for ways to foster open and honest collaboration throughout your team. Keeping communication open not only makes it easier to surface important insights but also ensures that every member of the team feels like their contributions add value to the project.

When your team is engaged with their work on a more fundamental level, invested in experimenting to make it better, and laser-focused on the customer’s needs, building a winning product experience is much easier to accomplish.

A Great Product Experience Is Your Competitive Advantage

Providing continual value with each product release sets your company apart from the competition. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, video and web conferencing platform Zoom was uniquely positioned to overtake a market already filled with known options, like Skype, GoToMeeting, and Microsoft Teams.

Zoom’s ease of use and willingness to make quick changes to their product experience helped the startup capture more customers than any of their competitors. When modern consumers have so many options to choose from, delivering a particular kind of value can be what sets your product apart.