Ian Khor Senior Product Manager @ Octopus Deploy | Ex-lawyer | Enthusiast of all things Agile, LEAN, JTBD, and RICE

A guide to improving the customer experience

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A Guide To Improving The Customer Experience

No matter how well built or designed a product can be, it means nothing if you don’t have users that not only enjoy using your product, but are also able to utilize your product in order to get work done. Because of this, the experience that users have with your product can be all-encompassing and cover several vectors, such as how easy they are able to navigate through the product, find the requisite information, or use the features and functions in order to complete the jobs they need to complete.

As a product manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure that customers have a complete experience with your product, from both a user experience and functional point of view. To determine what a complete experience looks like, it’s important to gather input from a range of different qualitative and quantitative sources, so that you and your team are able to build a picture of what’s going on in the customer’s world.

In this article, you will learn what the customer experience is, why you should set a high bar for the customer experience, and the role of the product manager in maintaining quality user interactions with your product.


Table of contents


What is the customer experience?

The term customer experience can be riddled with ambiguity and rife with assumptions that may derail a team from understanding the best way to deliver said experience for a customer. To me, the customer experience entails the holistic and wholehearted experience that a user has with your product, until they solve their specific use case.

This multifaceted definition can cover the following:

  • Your product’s UX and how that influences customer satisfaction with the product
  • A customer’s engagement with your product from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective (e.g. are they performing the right actions for the right jobs in the product?)
  • Features and functions inherent in the product that help a customer easily get the job done in a complete and satisfactory way
  • The level of support a customer can receive when they escalate issues or problems that they’re facing with the product
  • The relationship a customer can have with their account manager and how well they address the customer’s concerns
  • The price they’re charged for the use of your product and whether they feel they are getting value for the money they are spending on the product itself

Why you should set high standards for your customer experience

The following are the main reasons for why you need to set a high standard for the customer experience in your product:

Increases customer engagement and retention

Maintaining a great experience for your customers is important for the overall growth, health, and expansion of your product’s user base and market share in the future. This is because increasing the satisfaction of your customers in relation to their experience with the product helps to increase both customer engagement and retention with the product.

The more satisfied a customer is with their experience using the product, the more likely they’ll continue using the product in the future.

Helps your customer get the job done

As mentioned above, all the different ways a customer experience can be uplifted, improved, or maintained at a high level help to reassure a customer that they’re able to complete the job that they intended to complete using your product.

Users completing jobs as they intended, shows you that the customer is able to get in and out of the product with little to no hassle.

Key differentiator for the product compared to competitors

Finally, ensuring that your product has a complete customer experience provides your product with a competitive edge. You’d be surprised by the number of products that flood the market on a daily basis, where function takes precedence over form.

A great customer experience is a key differentiator in many industries and should be considered a feature of the product for it to win in its intended industry. For example, Slack was able to win the work messaging market, not just by having a more suitable solution for the industry, but also ensuring that they have a delightful user experience.

How to gather feedback on the customer experience

To gather inputs about your customer experience, you can try to employ these strategies:

Communicating regularly with customers

One of the key ways to identify whether your customer experience is up to standard is by chatting with customers. By engaging with customers on a regular basis, you can collect direct feedback about your product. This will help you shape your company’s views on how the product is progressing, whether any improvements are required, or if there is anything that needs to be fixed immediately.



Additionally, customers appreciate when they can put a face to a product. You should ensure that someone communicates with the customers and gathers high level inputs on things that can be improved. This helps you put the team and the company on the right track in terms of providing a holistic customer experience.

Looking at key metrics for customer engagement

There’s also room for quantitative methods. Collecting information from quantitative metrics helps align your direction or determine whether there needs to be an improvement for the customer experience as a whole.

You might consider collecting data like:

  • User satisfaction metrics, such as NPS or CSAT
  • User engagement metrics, such as the increase or decrease in the usage of particularly important feature in the product or the number of monthly active users (MAU) in the product
  • Number of support tickets
  • Number of Sev1, Sev2 issues

Engaging regularly with sales, support, and customer success

Finally, other than listening and looking at data that concerns the customer, sometimes the best gauge for how customer experience is shaping up in the product is from internal sources.

Engaging regularly with folks from the company that chat with the customer or use the product on a more consistent basis will help provide inputs to the team and company about the next steps when it comes to improving or maintaining customer experience standards.

By tapping into this accumulated experience, and augmenting their feedback together with customer-focused qualitative and quantitative sources, you’re better able to understand the customer experience as a whole and how the product can improve now and into the future.

The role of the product manager in building, defining, and determining the customer experience

In an effort to dial into and understand how the customer is feeling about the product on a regularly basis, a product manager should do the following:

Practice continuous discovery principles

Talking to customers is one thing, but gathering insights from them about their experience is another type of art altogether. Utilizing continuous discovery techniques — such as asking the five whys when talking to customers, or mapping out customer concerns and pain points via an opportunity solution tree — is one of the best ways to really take advantage of your time with customers.

Undertaking conversations with customers via continuous discovery techniques not only allow you and your team to understand the most up to date concerns that a customer is currently facing with your product, but also helps the customer put a “face” to the product that they use.

Understand the North Star metric

There are too many customer satisfaction metrics for a product manager to track all at the same time. Instead, ensure that you are focused on one sole metric that you think covers 60 to 70 percent of the use case of your product.

For example, net promoter score (NPS) is a popular choice. Using NPS as a North Star, and tracking this on a daily basis, will not only help you understand the particular concerns customers might have, but also give you a quantitative way of measuring and monitoring trends in customer happiness.

Work with customer facing stakeholders

Finally, a product manager should be able to work with people outside of the team. This becomes particularly important when working with other customer-facing roles within the company, such as account managers, support engineers and sales representatives.

As a product manager, you should convene regularly with this particular group of company stakeholders, as they will have particular insights into the customer experience.

Conclusion

Maintaining a high level of customer experience is no easy feat. In order to ensure that your customers are satisfied with your product you need to continuously engage with them to understand their pain points and perspective. Key metrics can also help you understand where you need to prioritize time and resources towards building a seamless adoption.

If you follow the above tips, you’ll be well on your way to improving and maintaining a high standard of customer experience for your product in no time. Until next time!

Featured image source: IconScout

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Ian Khor Senior Product Manager @ Octopus Deploy | Ex-lawyer | Enthusiast of all things Agile, LEAN, JTBD, and RICE

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