Using product to drive growth and efficiency: Lessons from 7 leading enterprise companies

Written by Tom Relihan  | 

9 min

 

Many of the world’s largest enterprises have learned that the products they already sell are also their secret efficiency-boosting weapons. Because they know their customers’ primary touchpoints with their organizations are their products, they’ve found ways to harness those user interactions as potential catalysts for growth—in other words, they’re product led. And as a result, they’re seeing incredible outcomes across KPIs including product adoption, user retention, and growth.

A lot of these companies have been around for awhile and have historically relied on sales-led, marketing-led, or other growth strategies. For these organizations, leveraging their product as the primary driver of engagement throughout the customer lifecycle—from onboarding and enablement to growth and expansion—represents a major paradigm shift. 

But at a time when every dollar counts and where ruthless efficiency can determine business longevity, these teams know that finding new, cost-effective, and resourcing-friendly ways to improve their product experience is critical to their success. So they’re turning to product experience software.

Pendo was born for this exact purpose. And now more than ever, our product experience solutions are helping large and enterprise-scale organizations put their products to work for them—so they can make smarter use of their existing resources; retain more happy customers; and build a scalable, sustainable foundation for the future.

Here’s how seven of our largest customers are using Pendo to turn their products into their best growth engine and leveling up their product experience—even in a downturn.

 

1. Okta’s analytics-led product strategy

Okta’s product team uses Pendo Analytics to understand where users are dropping out of workflows, see exactly how users are navigating their platform, and make data-informed decisions about where to take the product next. 

Prior to Pendo, generating reports of how many users were on the platform on a daily or monthly basis required extended development cycles for the data team, with highly variable results based on the data sources used. Pendo has simplified this process by serving as a single source of truth that covers 90% of the Okta application, available for viewing at any time. And since Pendo’s analytics are retroactive, the Okta team started benefiting from these deep usage insights from day one, without needing to divert engineering and development resources from other important initiatives.

Okta is also using Pendo data to inform their product adoption strategies and drive engagement on the platform. By segmenting users into groups based on their role or how they use the product, the team has been able to target in-app messages to these cohorts and steer them towards useful features, automatically and entirely inside the product.

“We can segment, target, and re-target users across channels based on the data we have at our disposal—so that we can effectively coach them, guide them, or nudge them through critical core pieces of configuring Okta,” said Okta’s Tom Witczak. This strategy helped drive up product adoption by 25%.

 

2. Boomi’s lightning-fast time to sale

Today, consumers expect to be able to try something out before they commit to buying it. In the world of software, this translates to freemium and free trial offerings. But this strategy isn’t just great for hands-on buyers and users—it’s also an effective strategy known as product-led growth, and it can yield major dividends when executed well.

Boomi wanted to make sure their free trial gave users a seamless, intuitive, and friction-free product experience. First, they used Pendo’s analytics to examine how trial users were interacting with the product to identify any areas where they were running into issues. Then, they used Pendo In-app Guides to design multi-step walkthroughs to help those users get back on track, or proactively connect them with customer support staff for more assistance.

These tactics shortened Boomi’s sales cycle by 66%, and all of it was done right inside the product, without any help from engineering—saving the team months of time.

 

3. Verizon optimizes their free trial experience

Verizon’s fleet management solution, Verizon Connect, also uses Pendo to deliver free trial experiences and automate their product demos. They built an automated, hands-on demo experience that allows people to experience the platform for themselves with 24 hours-worth of mock data. This gets the product in front of users without requiring them to speak with a sales rep—lowering the barrier to entry and exposing even more prospects and users to the product’s benefits. The Verizon Connect team also makes links to pricing and plans available throughout the experience, so when the prospect is ready to buy, it just takes a single click to start the process.

“We’re using Pendo across multiple pages to tell the story; and it allows the user to follow a guided tour or deviate at any time and consume each component of the functionality at their own pace,” said Zoe Stringer, a senior product designer at Verizon Connect.

Similar to Boomi, Verizon Connect is also using product data in Pendo to design onboarding flows for new free trial users with multi-step walkthrough guides. This has reduced the company’s reliance on manual, hands-on training methods. All of the training is delivered in-app, in the context of whatever a given user is doing at the moment.

 

4. Nelnet’s full-spectrum approach to product adoption

Nelnet knows busy teachers, students, and parents don’t have time to read pages of documentation and release notes to learn how to use their education technology platform. And manual, 1:1 human-led training is difficult to scale. So, they decided to lean on their product to help get users up to speed on new features and provide contextual guidance to clear up any points of confusion.

Each time they release a new feature or roll out a major user interface (UI) change, the Nelnet team uses Pendo guides to design step-by-step tutorials that show users the value of these new elements and walk them through first-use. And they make these tours accessible on-demand through the Pendo Resource Center

“[It] has been really effective not only in communicating, but also in reducing support calls about how a screen changed, and the user can’t find things. Now, they can take a tour anytime they want to refresh their memory,” said Liz Feller, the team’s Pendo administrator.

In one instance, this method was used to help students’ parents find and access financial documents during peak tax season, a time that usually generates an influx of support tickets. Instead, a simple in-app guide led users directly to the spot where they could locate this information, intercepting the onslaught of support tickets that would have otherwise come in and driving up usage of the feature by 200%.

Nelnet has also used in-app guides to mitigate customer confusion. After Nelnet renamed one of their products, customers started having trouble finding it in the platform interface. Feller and her team used in-app guides to educate users of the change, explain the reasoning behind it, and lead them to its new location—all without requiring additional support from engineering.

 

5. Coursera scales onboarding in a crisis

Delivering new user onboarding entirely in-app is one of the greatest opportunities to improve operational efficiency at scale. This approach lets you automate the experience, while personalizing it to each user’s unique role, jobs-to-done, or needs.

Coursera used Pendo’s analytics and in-app guides to quickly scale up their (historically manual) onboarding processes when the COVID-19 pandemic pushed most in-person education online, leading to a massive influx of new usage by both students and professors. Usage data allowed the team to segment these users and offer automated, personalized onboarding from the first login.

The team also used Pendo data to examine user behaviors in the platform and correlate specific actions to positive or negative outcomes. Using those insights, they built and deployed in-app guides to encourage users to complete workflows that lead to positive results, and to help them get through spots where they were getting stuck.

 

6. Essity’s employee training and productivity hack

Bringing onboarding inside the product isn’t solely limited to consumer-facing apps, either. These techniques are just as effective for employee-facing software, whether you’ve built it yourself or purchased and implemented it. 

Essity, the largest global provider of hygiene products, proved this by using Pendo to design an automated onboarding process on their internal Tork Vision Cleaning Service platform. First, they examined how technicians were interacting with the platform, then used in-app guides to provide customized support in the areas that were causing friction.

This process helped teach over 1,000 employees across 38 different countries how to use the platform. “We needed to be able to reach our users at scale, wherever they were working, whenever they were working, not only to support them, but to proactively drive them to do the right thing,” said Debbie Wiggins, Essity’s business systems director.

 

7. IHS Markit refines their platform with product data

Large companies also turn to Pendo’s analytics and in-app guides to inform their product planning and development strategies.

When the team working on IHS Markit’s iLEVEL platform was redesigning its user interface, they used Pendo usage data and in-app guides to gather intelligence and feedback from their user base. This enabled them to determine which features were seeing the most usage (and therefore should be prioritized for inclusion in the new UI), and which were seeing the least usage (and were therefore potential candidates for sunsetting). This helped the team move forward with more confidence that they were making the right decisions every step of the way, and proactively prevented them from wasting valuable time and resources on the wrong product initiatives.

IHS Markit also uses Pendo’s Product Engagement Score to get a more data-informed view of product health, empowering them to track and report it as a single, holistic metric. This helps product teams make better roadmap decisions, and helps sales reps and customer success managers (CSMs) quickly gauge how healthy a customer is so they can proactively take measures to prevent churn where necessary.