There’s no shortage of software applications to help individuals do their jobs better. To put it into perspective, the typical enterprise company spends over $4 million annually on software as a service (SaaS) products and holds a portfolio of over 270 apps.
For product teams specifically, there are tools for nearly every part of the development process—from roadmapping, collaboration, and prototyping to experimentation, user feedback, and project management (and beyond). Among this list, though, is one type of software that can actually help teams consolidate all those tools into a single platform—and which benefits departments beyond the product organization alone.
What is product experience software?
Product experience software combines product analytics, in-app communication, and feedback management into a single platform. It allows product leaders to better understand user behavior, engage with users within the context of the product, and capture, centralize, and prioritize users’ needs at scale.
While product experience software was initially conceived for product teams, it’s valuable for teams across an organization—especially when a company is product led. Here are some ways other teams might leverage product experience software:
- A customer success manager (CSM) looks at their account’s product usage and identifies places where users are dropping out of workflows. Rather than waiting for their next live check-in, the CSM uses in-app guides to deliver contextual support directly within the product.
- A product marketing manager uses in-app messages to announce the launch of a new feature. With this in-app approach, the marketer can personalize the announcement for different types of users (e.g. by role or admin level) and ensure communications reach customers at the right time in their workflow.
- A sales rep leverages usage data from the company’s free product to identify users who are the most engaged and likely to be interested in the paid platform. From there, they create in-app guides that speak to the value of paid features and direct users to where they can upgrade.
Below, we’ve outlined five signs your team (and company) are ready to invest in product experience software. How many of them ring true at your organization?
1. You don’t know how users engage with your product (but you want to)
If you don’t currently have a way to track product usage, this is a clear sign that it’s time to invest in product experience software. They say you can’t improve what you don’t measure, and this is especially true for companies with software products. Understanding users’ behavior inside your product is crucial to improving your product’s functionality and building features that truly add value to a user’s experience.
Here are some questions product analytics data can help you answer:
- Are users finding important parts of the product quickly and easily?
- Is usage of key features increasing or decreasing over time?
- Which features and pages are users having trouble with?
- How frequently are active users coming back into the product?
Beyond capturing data alone, a product experience tool also allows you to quickly and easily turn these insights into action. For example, if you see that an important feature isn’t being adopted as widely as it should be, you can create in-app guides targeted to users who haven’t yet engaged with that feature. Compared to email, these in-app messages are much more effective since you’re able to meet users where they already are, and when your product is top of mind.
2. Customer feedback lives in multiple places
Customer feedback is an important input for building products and creating digital experiences that align with users’ needs. But for feedback to actually be useful, you need to be able to trust that it is accurate and know where to access it. If customer feedback lives in multiple places (e.g. spreadsheets, Google Docs, project management tools), there’s no way to know what’s accurate or most up to date, making it nearly impossible to use it effectively. It’s also impossible to identify themes or correlate trends in data that’s spread across multiple tools, managed by multiple teams.
The beauty of product experience software is that it brings all that feedback data into one location, creating a single source of truth that teams across the business can leverage. This allows you to view feedback as a whole and identify common themes to inform future decisions and development work. It also gives you the ability to pair qualitative feedback with quantitative usage data to learn even more about your users.
3. You struggle to onboard and support customers or employees at scale
Onboarding is often your users’ first impression of your product, and when you need to educate them on how your product works and the value it will provide. If you don’t have a way to onboard customers or employees at scale (think: one-size-fits-all onboarding that’s delivered via manuals and training videos, with no way for users to revisit resources after their initial onboarding), it’s time to rethink your strategy.
With product experience software, you can deliver onboarding inside your product and even personalize onboarding flows for different types of users. Additionally, it allows you to house onboarding resources in an in-app resource center that users can refer back to at any time.
Similar to onboarding, tools from a product experience solution also offer more effective ways to provide ongoing support to your users. Teams can create in-app guidance to walk users through complex workflows, or add tooltips to provide a quick explanation of a certain feature. With data from product analytics, it’s easy to target the exact users who need this support, based on how they’ve engaged with the product in the past.
4. It falls on engineers to pull product data and create in-product messaging
Think about the process you currently follow for getting product usage data. Are you and your team able to pull it yourself? Or do you have to request it from your engineering team and then wait? Consider the same question for in-product messaging: What’s the process for getting a quick message or update out to users in-app?
For many companies, there’s often a lag time between an idea or need for an in-app message and when it actually goes live in the product. Similarly, teams are left waiting for product data that they likely need as soon as possible. Not to mention these requests take time away from your engineers who already have a backlog of development work that they need to prioritize.
With product experience software, both of these processes shift to a self-serve model (with the need for governance, of course). Teams across the organization can easily access product data to inform their day-to-day work and request in-app messages (or build them themselves) that can be created in minutes or hours—not days or weeks.
5. You use separate tools for product analytics, in-app communication, and feedback management
If you’re already utilizing a combination of product analytics, in-app guidance, and feedback management, investing in product experience software is a no brainer. Rather than using different tools for each of these capabilities, you’re able to consolidate them into a single, streamlined platform, where the learnings from each inform the others. And in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Data from product analytics can help you create segments and target the right users with your in-app messages. You can also pair customer feedback with product usage to add context to requests submitted by users. For example, is feedback on a certain product area coming from those who use the functionality often, or barely at all?
In addition to these operational benefits, leveraging product experience software helps you optimize your software spend and reduces the number of tools you’ll need to implement or build, maintain, and train your team on—a win for your product organization and your finance organization alike.