Product-led video series: Episode 8

How product-led companies drive efficient growth

In today’s economic climate, growth matters. But efficient growth matters even more. Leaders across all lines of business must find ways to hit ambitious goals without increasing spend—and they’re doing it by becoming product led. In this video, Howie Bienstock (Director, Value Consulting at Pendo) and Ellie McCandless (Product Marketing Manager at Pendo) are joined by Benny Estes (Director of Product Management at Covetrus) for an in-depth discussion about the business value of being product led. They discuss why it’s more important than ever for companies of all sizes to embrace product-led tactics, and explore how these strategies drive growth while optimizing costs and resources.


Gen Hanley:
All right, let’s get started. So thanks everyone for joining us for our webinar: How product-led companies drive efficient growth. And before we get started, I just want to share a few housekeeping items. First, you’ll be getting the recording in 48 to 72 after the webinar, just to give us some time to make sure it looks great for you guys. And secondly, if you have any questions throughout the session, feel free to submit them in the Q&A session. Our panelists will try to answer me as we go through the presentation, and if we can’t, we’ll try and get to them at the presentation. And worse comes to worst, we will reply via email. But feel free to submit those.

All right, awesome. And then here’s the agenda, which is a rough breakout of the parts that we’ll be covering. So first we’re going to start with today’s macro-economic climate, we’ll move onto the business value of being product-led, and finally go on to building buy-in for product-led tools and strategies. And then let me introduce our awesome panelists. So we have Howie Bienstock, director of value consulting at Pendo; Ellie McCandless, product marketing manager at Pendo; and last but not least, we have Benny Estes, the director of product management at Covetrus. And for anyone not familiar with Covetrus, they are an animal health technology company, they focus on consolidating solutions for their customers to make sure they have everything they need in a single platform. So if you’ve gone to the vet, you have most likely dealt with their solutions. but I’ll go ahead and pass it over to Ellie to get us started.

Ellie McCandless:
All right, thanks, Gen. So I’m pretty sure not many of us on this call need to spend a ton of time talking about the macro-economic climate that we are living in today, but Gen, if you want to take us to the next slide, just a little preview of the world we’re living in. We’ve got global tensions, market volatility, supply chain, inflation, tech industry is going through a bit of a moment right now. So all of that to say there really isn’t such a thing as business as usual and because of that, because there are all of these changes, business priorities are being redirected. The workforce is being reshaped and it’s forcing leaders to make some decisions about the direction of their business.

If you want to take us to the next slide, Gen. At times like this, businesses can’t just grow at all costs, that can’t be their only focus. They need to reshift their priorities to accommodate for all these changes. So right now businesses are caring about these four main things. They want to reduce their costs and they want to grow efficiently with the expenditures that they do have. They also really should be focusing on retaining their customers and lastly really tightening those purse strings a little bit and optimizing their software spend. So the smartest companies are realizing that to weather these kinds of storms, they need to operate more scalable, more efficient, more data driven, and more experience-centric. We saw this start two years ago with that little thing, that little pandemic that happened, and we’re seeing it again now, and we’re going to see it in the future.

So Gen, if you take us to the next slide. Really what we’re here to talk about today is that the companies that are learning to survive and even thrive in uncertain times are the companies that are becoming product-led. And I think that term can be a little bit vague. At a high level, being product-led is really just about putting your product experience at the center of your business strategy, as leveraging the product as an efficiency driver. And it really is freeing up resources for the expensive activities that maybe were human-led, and really scaling those operations to drive a better experience.

And I’m curious, Benny, yeah, how is this manifesting maybe over at Covetrus? How are you seeing these changes?

Benny Estes:
Yeah. Yeah, I’d love to talk about that. And just briefly, before I get into that, I’d love to just share with the audience, please consider me a resource for all of my fellow product people out there, maybe you’re in product management, perhaps you’re product marketing, but certainly ask questions, I’m happy to be a resource. And really, my goal here is to share one way that we at Covetrus have become product-led, and certainly, we’re not where we aim to be, but it is an evolution.

Before I get started, just use the Zoom chat, give a show of hands, how many of you adopted a pet during COVID, or we call them the pandemic puppies or COVID cats? Well, if you did, you, in one way or another, affected our customers. We deal with veterinarians and everything that they do to run their business. And it’s hard not to talk about global issues without talking about COVID. And the truth is that COVID actually accelerated business for our customers. Pet ownership rose dramatically, which means that people were bringing their pets into veterinary practices more often. And so we, as the software providers, the technology providers of veterinarians across the globe, needed to figure out how could we enable our customers to do more with their technology, many times with less staff? Whether the staff was sick, or there was turnover, there’s actually a big turnover issue in the veterinary industry right now.

So some ways that we were able to combat that, specifically with COVID, is we listen to our customers. We are using a feedback module that Pendo provides, where our customers can share with us what enhancement requests they want to see and things that we can do to make their lives easier, and then they can go ahead and vote on it. And so we’re able to very quickly see what are the top items that our customers are asking for and should we prioritize that? And not only are we hearing from customers through feedback, we can actually see what they’re doing through an analytics portal, and we can see the types of workflows that we’re doing. So we were able to see a change in workflow, based off of COVID, that our customers were using our software for, and then adapt accordingly and update our roadmap.

And then the last thing specific to COVID is how can we train our customers and make sure that they are aware of certain features that we developed to aid them in battling the pandemic and serving their customers? And we would surface guides and we had what’s called a resource center, which I’ll get into that, where our users can go as a single-stop shop to access self-help training guides, to access support, articles, videos, everything that they would need that we provided to support them as they were battling this pandemic.

But in terms of being product-led, we really think about it as an evolution, and the way that we became and are becoming product-led is it started with a question about three and a half years ago, when I first came to Covetrus, and that question was, “How do I know what my users are doing?” At the time, we were using Google Analytics, and that’s great as a base start for trying to figure out what your users are doing, but it’s very surface level. It’s good for basic demographics, if you want to see maybe what pages they’re navigating to. But when you actually have a SaaS software product, Google Analytics, it’s very hard to actually get good data using Google Analytics. And a lot of times, if you really want to do it, you have to ask your developers to tag certain clicks and features on a page and it just becomes a very hard process to manage.

So I went about this discovery process and we ended up landing on Pendo. And the first thing that we did with Pendo is we used their analytics to see where our customers are clicking and what workflows they’re using within the product. From there what we found out is, great, we know what our customers are doing, now how do we engage with our customers? Email is not working, and obviously no one… we don’t have the bandwidth to call all of our customers to tell them about updates and things. So that’s where we started rolling out the concept of guides, which is basically in product notifications and walkthroughs, where we can coach our customers how to use a feature, we can tell them when an update is coming, we can make them very aware if there’s any performance or outage issues that are happening that would affect their business.

So at this point in time, that was maybe a year into that, we said, “Great, we know what our customers are doing, we have analytics, we can engage with our customers. But what about feedback? How do we know what our customers want?” For us, it was kind of a black hole, and I’m sure many of you on the call are experiencing this, where you’re getting input from your support teams, from your training teams, and maybe sales, and it’s all coming through Slack or Teams. You’re getting emails and it’s all going into some product development backlog, that I’ve collectively termed like a black hole. And it was very, very hard to manage. We had, at the time, 2,000 plus requests, we weren’t sure how to prioritize it. And so that’s where we went to Pendo and asked how can we become more product-led with our feedback? And that’s where we implemented Pendo feedback, which is the ability for customers to submit requests through a portal that’s directly managed from the product team, and our customers can see what other customers are requesting and vote on it. They comment on requests, and you start to see customers commenting with customers and talking about the solutions that they need. And this is gold for us as a product team.

So once implemented that, not only did we roll it out to customers, but we rolled it out internally as well. So now our support team, our sales team, our marketing team, they all know that if you want to get something in front of us as a product group, go through our feedback module. That’s where we go to to prioritize and see what our customers want. So internally, they can also submit requests and enhancements on behalf of customers. Or our customers can submit those requests directly.

So that’s the journey, perhaps until about a year ago, where we had analytics, we have guides, now we have feedback. So now the question was, “Well, we have these disparate places where our customers are going. They’re going to one place to chat with our support team. They’re going to another place to engage with that feedback module, which is a separate page. There’s a separate place where they’re accessing our knowledge base articles and getting trained.” And so we, again, asked ourselves, “How can we be more product-led in supporting our customers using all of the tools that we’re providing them?” And that’s where we rolled out what’s called the resource center. And this is a one-stop shop for customers to access our support team, with live chat; they can access our knowledge base and read about articles; they can access self-help training guides, where they can learn about how to use features; that’s where they go to learn about product updates. So rather than getting an email, they can proactively go to this resource center area and see what updates are happening in the product. We update sometimes every two weeks. And so if someone comes and they haven’t checked product updates in a month, they can see everything that’s been done since they’ve checked over the last month.

And then most recently what we’re doing now, is we want to make sure that our customers are happy and we want a pulse on exactly how happy our customers are. So we’re rolling out an automated NPS survey module, through Pendo that will segment customers and randomly get NPS survey results back to us as a product team. We’re actually not driving that, our UX research team is driving that. But that’s the next step in our product-led evolution is that we’re launching an NPS module to make sure that we have a pulse on how our customers are feeling.

Ellie McCandless:
That’s awesome. And it’s so great to see you guys just like, it’s not an all or nothing. It is a process and once you get the flow of one, then you can add on the other. That’s awesome. Gen, take us to the next one. Howie, I think you’ve got a real-world example for us yourself?

Howie Bienstock:
I certainly do, yes. Hi, everyone. I think that’s a really great segue into the primary topic of our discussion today, and it’s the value of becoming product-led and how product-led strategies enable that efficient growth. So organizations of all sizes and all stages of maturity, and all industries, right? Not just technology, not just SaaS, are realizing the merits of these types of investments and approaches. And they’re actually helping thrive and continue to grow even in this difficult market and economic conditions like the ones Ellie just walked through.

So in fact, by becoming product-led, one of our customers in the financial services space, large organization, saved over $2 million in the first three months of using Pendo. They onboarded hundreds of thousands of customers into a new platform, essentially overnight, eliminated about a third of the total number of support tickets their team needed to answer on any given day. And these figures aren’t… they’re not fake. They’re the real results on an enterprise scale business that they’re seeing right now. And it’s not just this customer, we surveyed over 400 of our enterprise customers to understand how becoming product-led has benefited their teams, their customers, and helped them to continue to grow their businesses. And the results we saw were really impressive. Gen, you can go ahead to the next slide.

So today we’re going to take you a little bit closer to those findings, particularly in the context of what Ellie was talking about regarding the economic climate and explore how companies are using these types of product-led strategies to weather the storm and stay ahead. Gen, you can go ahead to the next slide.

So as I mentioned earlier, the survey was about 400 Pendo customers from around the world, primarily product managers working in enterprise organizations, which we’ve defined as 1,500 employees or more, to find out what types of outcomes they’re seeing, by becoming product-led and investing in these types of technologies. I run our value consulting team here at Pendo, so this kind of thing really excites me, I geek out, a little bit of a nerd when it comes to this type of stuff. And I’ll say even I was floored by the results our respondents said they were experiencing by using these types of tools and investing and building a product-led mindset throughout their organizations. Go ahead to the next slide.

When we look at the data, there’s really four key themes or areas of value that emerge. Customer value, growth, user productivity, and product development. So customers health, product-led companies retain more customers and revenue. It’s fact, you can see it right there. Growth, product-led companies generate high quality leads as well as a more engaged user base. Down there in the bottom-left, user productivity, product-led companies spend less time on support, less time on data collection, and onboarding. And then finally, in the bottom-right there, product development, product-led companies make data informed decisions to innovate more quickly. So for the next few minutes, we’re going to take a closer look at each one of these areas in more detail. Go ahead to the next slide, Gen.

The first area where product-led companies reported experiencing value, was in how they measure and influence customer health. So think about metrics like churn, net revenue retention, retention, and just wholly, customer health scores. Having a firm grasp on customer health allows companies to become more predictable in terms of recurring revenue, plus we know that churn is expensive, right? We want to retain customers as much as possible as opposed to go out and getting new customers.

Ellie, specifically from a marketer’s perspective, like yourself, I’m sure you can speak to this and how churn impacts the work that you and your team do?

Ellie McCandless:
Yeah. Yeah, so of course, customer health is so important for all teams. Support teams this is their bread and butter. But from product marketing perspective, the big area of focus is, like you mentioned, churn and what we can do to combat that with retention and driving adoption and retention of the product itself and new features as they launch. So we all know the old adages, I think it’s five to 25 times more expensive to get a new customer versus retaining the ones that you have. So as a product marketer, we’re constantly thinking about how we can get our current customers tapping into all of this value that we’re building all day, every day. So being able to, as Benny has mentioned, some of these powerful tools, being able to run in app adoption campaigns and really being able to use the product itself to educate our users, is frankly a gift that I don’t know how we would do product marketing at Pendo without it.

So using your product to create healthy customers from the outset, the second that they… their first experience, their first log in, all the way through. Building healthy customers at the outset, it reduces churn, increases retention, and builds those customer advocates that we all love.

Howie Bienstock:
Yeah. Great points, Ellie, thanks. So bringing this back to the business value report, this was a major area where companies who are using product-led tools and tactics are actually getting a ton of efficiency. Now on average, you can see there on the right side of the screen, a 5% reduction in customer churn, which again, could equate to millions of dollars, hundreds of work hours saved, as well as a 15% increase in net revenue retention. So Benny, from your perspective, how does Covetrus think about churn and customer health?

Benny Estes:
Yeah, from our perspective, well, churn itself is such a complex topic, it’s not like you can focus in on one thing. If it was a single feature that caused churn, I think we could easily solve that. I think at Covetrus, we focus on making sure our users, our customers can achieve desired outcomes, also making sure that it’s a pleasant customer experience. The thing with desired outcomes is they evolve with external factors. COVID’s another good example. And if you’re not evolving with what your customers are expecting of your software, then they’re going to become unhappy and that’s ultimately what is going to cause churn.

So I don’t have a single point to stop churn, other than make sure that there is… you always have a heartbeat on what your customers are asking for. To do that, make sure that they can easily notify you and make you aware of their wants and needs. If you do do NPS, like I said, we’re doing it directly in product, meeting the customer where they’re most comfortable inside our product. So we are reaching out to those detractors, those are probably our biggest indicator of potential churn. If a customer’s unhappy, our training team can reach out to them and offer additional training so they can utilize all the aspects of our software. We have an account management team that can call the customer, visit onsite, establish that relationship, and then keep them within that area of business. And then we also can use our customers’ feedback to help prioritize our roadmap, either long term or short term.

So if we’re seeing that there’s a lot of customers who are requesting a specific feature through our feedback portal and voting on a feature, that’s their indication that this is what we need and we need you to build it for us so we can run our business as our technology providers. And so it’s our job, once we see that, to actually get that back into the product. And if we don’t do that as quickly as our customers expect us, that’s ultimately where you’re going to see not just a small churn, but a churn across a large segment of customers or the specific customers where we’re not meeting their needs.

Howie Bienstock:
Sure. That’s really helpful. Gen, if we can go ahead to the next slide? Just summarizes what Benny was just talking about there, and then the next slide you can hop to, Gen, won’t necessarily cover… We got a lot to cover here so we’re going to go to the next area, which is growth. And this is probably one of the most familiar to those listening in today. Product-led growth is… a hot topic for a long time. And we talk about it extensively ourselves here at Pendo. But essentially it’s using your product as its own channel to help demonstrate value, whether that’s drive conversions, encourage sales, even facilitate any kind of expansion opportunities. So when we think about growth in the product world, there’s active users, there’s feature adoption, all kinds of metrics that various teams might use to track the growth of their product or initiative. So Ellie, is there anything else from a growth perspective, or any other metrics, you think from a marketing side that you’d like to call out?

Ellie McCandless:
Yeah, no, this is definitely a big area of focus. And you can see on the slide, this idea of PQL or a product qualified lead. Of course, being on the marketing team, we are thinking about marketing qualified leads, but we love PQLs here on the product marketing team because it really allows you to use and leverage and show off the product that your business is investing so much time and money and resources in, and it allows you to actually use the product itself to drive interest and demand to then pass those warmer leads along to sales. So here at Pendo we use things like self-guided tours, we have a premium product that actually has a free trial built into it. We use the product itself to do a lot of the heavy lifting for us, just in order to demonstrate the value of that product in order to pass along those qualified leads to our lovely sales team.

Howie Bienstock:
Great. Benny, before I pull you in here, I just want to touch on some of these numbers. Our survey revealed that, on average, product-led companies generate about 30% more qualified leads, so think of those warm and educated PQLs that Ellie just mentioned, and on average, about 28% on total active users in the products. Which means larger, more engaged audience that you can interact and grow your business with. So Benny, curious from your perspective, tell us a little bit more about how Covetrus has fostered a culture of that product-led growth and the tactics your team is using to drive growth? And Gen, you can go ahead to the next slide.

Benny Estes:
Yeah, I’d love to. And as often as possible during this call, I’m going to reference specific use cases so that our audience, all of you, can see how a company has actually used product-led tactics to further its business. And so for this particular use case, I think it’s important to understand that Covetrus, as a company, has multiple parts of business. So what I’m referencing is our software, it’s what veterinarians use to run their business, they document pets’ medical histories and things like that in our software. But one of our sister businesses or sister products is an online pharmacy, where a veterinarian can actually sell medication directly to a pet owner and have it ship directly to their door. And we actually provide that service on behalf of the veterinarian.

And before we combined workflows, we had data that showed usage between our customers using the online pharmacy that we provide when it wasn’t integrated. Now we’ve since provided a very seamless integration, so it’s the same workflow, users can actually enter that workflow directly from our software product. So in that sense, we have combined workflows, we’ve created an integrated experience. But how do you notify customers that that workflow exists, and how do you measure the effect that that new workflow has on actually driving revenue for a business? And that’s what we’re able to do and measure with some of the tools that Pendo offers.

Our marketing team loved this because they were able to surface in product guides and notifications that notified our users, that said, “Hey, you’re using our product over here, guess what? Now you can use it in the comfort of a product that you’re in every day.” And this is what this image is depicting, is a guide that is saying, “Click this button and you can do this workflow and save time without having to go to a separate application now. Because we at Covetrus are a platform and we can provide services for you in that single platform experience.” And so we actually saw an increase in usage just by providing that integrated workflow across products and making sure that we can inform our customers of that new workflow.

Howie Bienstock:
Great. That’s really helpful. Gen, if you can skip to the next slide here? So wanted to talk about user productivity, right? It’s on everyone’s mind, particularly given the difficult staffing decisions that Ellie mentioned many organizations are currently facing. So no matter what business, what industry you’re in, you’re probably thinking spend matters more than ever, how can we do more with less? So user productivity factors heavily in both of these areas, and product-led strategies are absolutely one of the best ways to address them. We all want better and more efficient ways to onboard these new customers and users, respond to support cases more quickly, gather data to validate our decisions, and get customers/employees comfortable and thriving in the products that they’re using on a daily basis.

Plus we will all want this to happen really quickly, right? And be as effective as possible. So how do you do it? You bring your routine processes inside your product, and this reduces cost, right? So no more responding to that routine support query that could be answered in self-serve materials, like the resource center that Benny mentioned. Or no more relying on in-person meetings for basic, routine onboarding tasks. It frees up your people, right? No more wasted time on time-intensive, mundane tasks, like basic support triage or one-to-one basic onboarding. This creates a better user experience. No more waiting for support, it allows you just to self-serve, on their own time. It helps users to get the value more quickly. Ultimately helping your business scale and do more with the same or potentially even less.

So the results of our study indicate, on the right side here, on average product-led companies see a 15% reduction in support ticket volumes. Some organizations see much higher, some much lower, 15%’s typically the range that you should expect to see. When you collect product data, like analytics and feedback, like Benny mentioned earlier, 30% more quickly than their peers. And it reduces user onboarding time, whether it’s an employee or a customer, by about 27%. And Benny talked us through what this all looks like at Covetrus, right? Can you share a few examples, I know you have a bunch, of how Covetrus is using product-led strategies to improve productivity around processes like support, feedback, or onboarding? You can go to the next slide, Gen.

Benny Estes:
Yeah, yeah. The cool thing that I think we’ve realized as a product group at Covetrus, is that it’s all about empowering other teams. So I really consider, at least the way we’ve used Pendo, like a tool, and we’re now providing a tool to our teams to ultimately provide a better customer experience. So the resource center is one example of that tool. And there’s a screenshot, that’s actually our resource center. And what we found is that, by launching feedback, which is the area that customers can send enhancement requests, into the resource center alongside live chat, we are now redirecting the valuable support time that they would take otherwise, talking with customers about enhancements and putting that enhancement in to a backlog. That’s now all a self-regulated process through the… it’s labeled feature requests on the slide, but it’s our feedback module. That’s now self-help for our user base.

So now our user base, over time, has been trained, when they have an enhancement request or an idea, they just put it directly in the feature requests. And no longer is our support team having to triage that and throw it over the fence to the product team, so to speak. So now our live chat is strictly being used to support our customers. It’s no longer being used to field enhancement requests and things like that. And we’ve played or heard of the telephone game, when support hears something, they then tell it to product or put it in some ticket, you lose some of that customer direct quote and interactions. And so, because we have that in feedback, we as a product team, are able to just go directly to the source of the enhancement request, rather than having to go through our customer-facing teams.

And then the second thing, when I talk about empowering our teams that we work with, is around training. If you go to the next slide? So we have empowered our training team, who is also our onboarding team, to onboard customers through these self-training and self-onboarding modules that can be accessed within the resource center. And so what this has resulted in, is not taking the training jobs away from our training team, but empowering them to reach more of our customer base over time. And being able to… rather than have one-on-ones with customers, being able to reach a larger set of customers and create self-help guides for them.

And then lastly, around data collection, this is a way where we actually empowered our QA team. In the next slide, we had our QA team ask, “What’s our mobile testing strategy?” For all of us that create cloud products, mobile first is the direction that we should all be taking in today’s environment. And so what we did is we looked at the workflows… we segmented our customer base by which mobile devices are they using and what are they doing within our product on these mobile devices? And we were actually able to save significant QA time, significant development time, by prioritizing those pages which our customers are using for mobile cases, and not focusing and not spending time optimizing pages that our customers don’t use on their mobile phones.

When we really dove into it, what we found is that, the typical use case that our customers are doing for mobile is the night before, a veterinarian will go in and check the schedule and then go to look at the patients that are on their schedule and look at their medical records. So they can see what surgeries or what exams they may be performing the next day. And so that’s where we want to spend all of our time, making sure that that’s mobile responsive experience. All the other pages that are superfluous and not really accessed very often on mobile, we consider that as mobile friendly, which basically means it needs to load and if there’s some nuances, if it doesn’t expand or resize based on the mobile device, that’s okay, we’ll accept that, because we use data to make that decision. It’s a conscious, intentional decision. And so although I couldn’t tell you the percentage of time saved, I can tell you it was a significant saving for our QA and development team to be able to make that decision.

Ellie McCandless:
Yeah. Yeah, that’s so great. Gen, you can take us to the next slide, I specifically have this call out, once again, for anyone on the line who hasn’t heard Benny and Howie saying this in their… what they’re talking about. But really, whenever we get talking about product-led user productivity or product-led customer support, all these things, the question inevitably always comes up of, well, does that mean that you want to reduce your support team? And that’s absolutely not what this section is all about. This is product-led support, product-led user productivity does not mean humanless, it just means effectiveness.

So instead of having your teams spending time doing repetitive mundane tasks that aren’t even using their unique skills. I mean, think about your customer success team and how gifted and talented they are with communicating with customers. This just allows them to do the more efficient, effective work that they enjoy doing and leave the repetitive, mundane work for the product to do for them. So just one final call-out on that one, because it’s very important.

Howie Bienstock:
Yeah, it’s very important. I mean, I talk to prospective and current customers all the time and I probably have to make this remark at least weekly that it’s not cutting heads or getting rid of folks, it’s actually making them more efficient. So great call-out, thanks. Gen, you can go ahead to the next one.

So last, but certainly not least, want to talk a little bit about product development, as I’m sure that’s on everyone’s mind here on the call. And I guess the backdrop of all the market challenges we’re facing, there’s still this very urgent, urgent need to continue to deliver amazing products that help solve customer problems, and the people who engage with those experiences, expect more from them than ever, right? And depending on what business you’re in, this need for continual innovation is actually more important than ever because of the kind of market we’re in.

So product-led strategies are the most efficient way to get the information you need to drive this quick innovation and to make sure that you’re working on and building the right things. It helps take your business from a place of guessing what to do next to knowing that what you’re working on is going to add value and be used by customers/employees.

So we’ve talked a lot about the importance of data, and again, it’s a key pillar in scaling your product development efforts. The qualitative data, like Benny mentioned the user feedback, it’s crucial for adding that context to those behavioral insights that you’re able to garner, and it helps you feel confident in those product decisions and helps you validate your resources and secure budget. And on the quantitative side, like analytics, it’s crucial for helping you decide where you can actually roll back or reallocate certain resources, like sunsetting underused products or features to make way for something new and exciting and potentially revenue generating.

And all that helps shape your roadmap, which really in turn empowers those internal teams and builds trust with prospects and buyers and helps your entire organization be more efficient by getting everyone, all parties, on the same page, working on the right things. So on the right side, on average, product-led companies see a 30% reduction in a few different areas, so the time they spend on roadmapping, the time it takes to collect that user feedback, and finally the time it takes to validate certain product decisions and measure the efficacy of those recently released products or features.

So Benny, going back to you, I’m really eager to hear your thoughts on this based on your role and your experience in product management and development. Can you tell us a little bit about some of your use cases for product-led development? You can go to the next.

Benny Estes:
I would love to. And forewarning our audience, I may take like eight minutes to talk about this, because I love to take… like Howie took a feature all the way to how he released and ultimately measured it. So the first question that I find myself asking and my team asking is, “Where do I even begin?” And if you go to the next slide, you can see some of the screenshots there. And where do I begin? How do I know what my customers want? How do I build the most value with a limited amount of resources, fitting within the time and budget that my team has?

And the simple solution is ask your customers. Let them tell you. The complex part is how do you actually normalize and aggregate all of that data across your customer base? We have thousands of customers with tens and twenties of users at each customer. So you can imaging the amount of gold nuggets of feedback that we can have. And so the first thing that we do is we look at our customer feedback. And I mentioned the black hold that we previously had, we now have much less of a black hole using what Pendo provides through their feedback module. And so we can see the most voted on features, we can see comments from customers, and we can also start to see similar requests across a certain feature.

So for in the screenshot on the left, we had a feature called a white board. And just by searching white board, you’ll see there’s 100 separate requests that are related to the white board. And so we made the determination white board is a valuable feature for our customers, we’ve heard it from them, they want to improve it, let’s go see what they’re asking for. And so you start to see common themes and similarities with what your customers are requesting, and then you can arrange for those and prioritize those based on how… and T-shirt size them based on how long it’s going take.

So that’s just one point though, in the trifecta, is what your customers are saying. Then you can go and actually see what your customers are doing through usage data. And that middle image, that’s a heat map, where we can actually see how often our customers are clicking on that feature, that’s what used to be the white board, I’ll show the new feature in an upcoming slide. But we can see where they’re clicking and, more importantly, who is clicking. So now we’re starting to get segment of customers that we can reach out to, to understand, “Hey, I see you’re a power user and you’re really using this particular part of this feature. Why are you doing that? Talk to me about that?”

And then the third part of that trifecta is the navigating part. So we understand what our customers are asking, we can see where they’re clicking and how they’re interacting with said feature, but now where are they going before they get to that feature or that page, and then where are they going after? And that’s what we use Pendo’s Paths or funnels for. If you’ve used Google Analytics, Google Analytics also has something similar, but the workflow that Pendo provides is pretty easy.

And so that’s what I would call our discovery process. And if we fast forward to the next slide, at this point, my team and I, we have a good sense of the problem. We have a problem statement, we know where to begin, we’ve already done some preliminary prototypes, we’ve explored with our UX team, and let’s just say we’ve moved past design and we’re in the middle of sprints, like we’re developing. And now we’re in beta. At this point, we want to confirm, did we actually make our job easier? Is the hypothesis that we came up with in the beginning, during the discovery process and all that data we accumulated, is our hypothesis correct? And it’s the same trifecta, we surface in-product guides and experiences that actually get feedback while our customers are using the product.

So on the left, what you see there is a little guide that surfaced up. We have this “rate this.” It’s an orange button, and we, over time, have habitually trained our customers, when they see this “rate this” they know, “Oh, I need to provide feedback so that the product team or so that the software team can know if I like the feature because it’s new.” And so anytime there’s now that “rate this” feature, the same color, the same location, but just for different pages, our customers know. And so we’re habitually training them to give us feedback as we’re releasing things. That’s typically what we do during beta. And again, after we hear from our customers how they’re using said feature that we’ve pushed for them, we then go look in the usage data. And we confirm that they’re using it in the way that we intended. And if they’re not using it in the way that we intended, why? Maybe there’s something we didn’t do during discovery that we need to quickly pivot and change before we release to a larger audience. That’s what that middle heat map represents. Third part of that trifecta is workflows. Did we change, if we intended to, where our customers are going after we release that feature? Ideally, we cut out some of the pages or the middle workflows in between. We’re always trying to streamline our workflows, at least for our customers.

So yeah, the first question, where do we begin? We’ve answered that. Confirming, did we actually make your job easier through data and customer feedback? And then the next part, if you go to the next slide, is do you know how to use it? This was a huge gap that we realized, and that’s ultimately why we involved our training team and onboarding team in our process, is we’d release things and they would still go to support and say, “Hey, how do I do this?” And support would say, “Oh, we released this like three months ago, how did you not know? We sent out an email blast.” That term is just… probably none of us like that term of email blast. And so, for do you know how to use it, our training team now is responsible for creating guides to make sure our customers know how to train on the feature that we just developed and spent months confirming that we are heading in the right direction. And it’s not a separate guide or separate document that our customers have to go to, they actually get trained directly in the product. So they can access that through the resource center.

Or the second way that we’re habitually training our customers to interact with this directly in the product, is on this image to the right, there’s that little teal button next to the white board feature, and that says, “What’s new.” Our training team and our product team are working together to habitually train our customers whenever they see a “what’s new” button, on our customer’s time, so not when they’re in the middle of some busy workflow, but when they time, click that “what’s new” and they can quickly get up to date on the new features that we’ve released. Rather than having to read an email blast that I’m sure a lot of us are sending. We still send those, but our marketing team now is actually integrated with our guides, and so they’re also reaching our customers directly in-product rather than through email.

And then I think lastly, the last part that we do, once we’ve confirmed where we’re going, we confirm that we’re meeting the needs, we know our customers know how to use it. Now, if you go to the next slide, we’re actually measuring the success based on everything we defined through dashboards. And so, me, as a director, on my product team, this is a lot of time where I’m staying. I’m not necessarily creating the guides or looking at the data, my product team is doing that, but what I’m concerned with is our hypothesis being met over time through these dashboard, so we can cool graphs and figures and stuff to see how our users are actually using the feature. And then it’s just a circle, it’s a repeat process. As you go within that feature or other features within our product, and we can also share these dashboards out to upper management when they’re asking, “How’s this feature being used?” rather than sending an email or having to compile data, ask developers to do queries, we just send them a link to the dashboard and say, “Sure, yeah, check it out. Here it is. You can see what they’ve been doing the past few months, you can see how that usage has affected certain KPIs that we’ve identified, et cetera.”

So a lot that I just went over there, I think one of the main takeaways though, is it’s not just product that’s doing everything. We have a tool and we’re empowering marketing to reach our customers, training to train our customers directly in the product. Support to better support our customers directly in the product. So we as a product team are trying to empower the teams that we influence to serve their own needs and take us out of the equation a little bit. More have us more as a prover manager of the process type of situation. Okay.

Ellie McCandless:
That is a hefty and impressive example of just how involved your team is in Pendo and really every step of the process. And yeah, that’s a great story. Gen, if you want to take us to the next slide? I know we’ve covered so much content and you’ve been hearing Benny tell all these incredible stories that you’re probably sitting on your end of the screen like, “Yes, I want to do this myself. I want to introduce these product-led strategies to my business as well.” Can you take us to the next slide, Gen? I’m sure everyone here would agree, getting the tools that you need to actually accomplish a lot of these strategies can be really hard, and the macro-economic climate that we’re living has not made it any easier with those tight purse strings.

So buying software can be hard, but we are going to give everyone here a tool to make it a little bit easier. If you take us to the next slide, Gen. We have actually written a guide to buying product experience software. So it really is a step-by-step process that helps you walk through the steps that you need to build buy-in and really build a business case around buying product experience software. So you will get this on your own, but this is Howie’s world, this is Howie’s bread and butter. So Howie do you want to walk us through really at a high level what the process is to building a business case around an investment like this?

Howie Bienstock:
Yes, absolutely. And I know I want to leave a couple minutes for Q&A so if we can go to the next slide, Gen, I’m going to be rather quick in these next three slides. So business case, we hear that a lot, right? We need ROI to prove the value. So the first step is really identifying and framing specific business outcomes and ensuring that they ladder up to corporate or a business unit objective or initiative, right? I mean, that’s paramount in order to understand and get buy-in from across the organization and really figure out the why for this investment. So we’ve laid out some examples on the right, and I think, Gen, we should be hopefully sharing some of these slides. If we’re not, you can reach out to me, I’m happy to talk through it. But yeah, so on the right, this is really relative to a product-led technology investment. So support, customer adoption, launching… everything we’ve been talking about today. Gen, we can go ahead to the next one.

So the next area is really quantifying the potential business impact. So we essentially want to understand if this is a revenue generation type of investment, this is a cost savings or a resource efficiency type of investment, or risk. I think any software you buy, it has to drive revenue reduce costs, or mitigate some kind of risk. So think about which one of those areas, maybe it’s two areas, hopefully not all three, because I think it’s kind of… I’ll get to it in a second, kind of muddies the impact. But it could impact, really multiple areas.

And as I’ve just mentioned, I think I try to advise prospective customers that I work with to focus on that one or maybe two and build that case for change and quantify that one or two areas, and allow the other use cases and reasons for purchasing to be really cherries on top, to say, “Listen, we’re going to focus in on these one or two areas, quantify it as best as we can, and then allow all the other… whether it’s business units who are interested, like a marketing, or a success type of initiative, to be just saying, ‘Hey, and by the way, we didn’t even quantify this part and this is just an extra, extra value.'” And by doing this, I think you create groundswell across the different use cases, across different business units, and ideally, it provides enough value relative for the costs of the software. So we can go ahead to the next one, Gen.

Calculating potential ROI, quantifying that impact with what really, really matters. We’ve got two ROI calculators that you can use out there on our website, hopefully someone will drop in the link there. It’s about support ROI as well as retention ROI. And this ROI or business case that you’re building, or just built, should be your North Star when speaking to internal stakeholders at your organization. And additionally, you can use this to measure the impact that the software has provided to you in 6, 12, 18 months after implementation. All right, so we kind of call this value realization. It’s an egg that everyone’s trying to crack, to prove out was this value or was this investment worth the value? And without understanding your baseline, it’s really hard to measure that impact. So I always recommend to try and build out a quantified model, so that you can come back to it in 6, 9, 12, 18 months.

So I think to wrap it up, Benny, from your perspective, going through this process a couple years ago, how did you go about building the business case and do you have any advice for folks on the call?

Benny Estes:
Yeah, I know exactly where you all are, and when I through it, I think one important thing to do, is to do your research. Ultimately, Pendo’s a tool. It was the right tool for us, but there are lots of tools out there. And we actually did the business case for piecemealing different tools together, versus going with a Pendo platform approach. For our business and for our needs, absolutely it was the Pendo platform approach. But do your research, see what’s out there, and create a PowerPoint, get people across your organization involved too. Being product-led isn’t just about product, it’s going to involve marketing once you evolve to that level, it’s going to involve your training team, onboarding teams, your support team.

So first of all, if you’re trying just to build a case to purchase said software, said tool, involve all those teams and try and get people behind you that say, “We as a technology team, not just a product team, need a product-led tool.” If you already have that investment and buy-in from higher up, that’s great. I think the second step then, is do your research to see what’s out there. And do demos, talk to the Pendo team, ask them for a sandbox or play around with things. But I think the main thing is get a tool to do this, the cost of not having a tool to give you analytics, to connect with your customers, to enhance training and decrease support; the cost of not having something like this is much more than purchasing X amount of dollars per year for a tool.

So yeah, do your research, involve all of your partner teams and the cost of not having something like this, believe it or not, is probably more expensive than just paying for that software investment on a yearly basis.

Howie Bienstock:

Ellie McCandless:
Yeah, that’s a great point. All right, Gen.

Benny Estes:
I’d love to answer any questions, too. Gen, I know you have…

Ellie McCandless:
Yeah, there are our names if you want to connect with us, but I did want to make sure that we have a couple minutes left for questions from the audience. You gave us some great examples on just the incredible ways that you’ve used Pendo to drive user productivity and all these things. One of our attendees here asked how you drive customer adoption of the resource center and train customers to use these self-help resources? I mean, you’ve referenced a couple times how you continual reinforcement to get your customers to use this. How do you do that rather than having them reach out to support?

Benny Estes:
Yeah. Once users are in a certain habit or certain flow, it’s hard to change them, or to change that workflow. We started internally. So we talked with our support team and got our support team on board, and we talked with our training team and got our training team on board, and sales, and all of our customer-facing internal folks, we kind of had a internal rollout before we rolled out the resource center externally to our customers. And so our support team, sales team, training team, they all knew that if a customer reaches out for a feature enhancement requests, redirect them to the resource center. And so if all of your internal teams are on the same page, your customers over time start to get it. Our customers or users didn’t get it all at once, but over time, as long as we as a organization are on the same page, then your customers and users start to realize, “Oh, this is that new workflow.”

And then the second point is you need to follow through with responses and showing your customers that there’s a reason why you’re redirecting them through that. The worst thing that you can do if you rollout resource center and feedback, is to not respond to customers and feedback. Because then they’re just going to think it’s the same black hole, you’ve just moved the black hole of me telling you things and you not listening, from me talking to support, to now going to some feedback portal to do it. So make sure you have the resources to follow through. So if you’re not ready to support that and launch the resource center, don’t launch it. Make sure you have someone who can monitor the feedback because it will come in and it is a lot of work but it’s worth it. Either someone on the product team… we actually recently rolled out a product operations role, to help with that. You can also involve people from your support and training team to also access feedback. So you can share the love of interacting with users once you roll it out.

Ellie McCandless:
Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, one other question that I have for you, Benny, which relates to you talking about rolling out this resource center internally, is what pushback… and maybe it’s not pushback, but what were the challenges of bringing other teams, other than your product team, into a tool like Pendo, when you were rolling out all these?

Benny Estes:
Yeah. Yeah, for sure we mentioned it, people thinking that they’re being replaced. And I think on the face, if you send an email, “Hey, we’re rolling this out and now our users are going to be self-trained,” yeah, of course your training team may be hesitant to be fully on board with that. So take the time and show them exactly how you are envisioning involving training or support and marketing. And once they realize that you’re not taking something away, you’re really empowering them and ultimately their going to own that training experience, even though you, as a product person, are responsible for the product experience, so you have the last say, I mean, give them ownership. So our training team owns the training modules. They’re actually inside of Pendo, creating the guides, and working with us on upcoming new features. So it’s very much a partnership. But involved them ahead of time and get their buy-in, and then you’re going to have people that are really appreciative of it.

Ellie McCandless:
Yeah. That’s a great call-out, bringing them in early and often. Yeah. Well, I know that we’re butting up against time. Howie, any final words? I know that you were sharing that, in the follow-up, you guys are going to get all these resources, you also are going to get the opportunity to chat with Howie directly, but any last words, Howie?

Howie Bienstock:
No, just thank you all for your time and, yeah, any questions, we can help. I mean, reach out to me, but it sounds like Benny could be a resource for you as well. So he may be better than talking to me, in that regard. So Gen, we’ll kick it back over to you to wrap up.

Ellie McCandless:
All right.

Gen Hanley:
All right, awesome. Well, thank you, guys. That was a lot of great information. But yeah, so we’ll call it a day. Feel free to keep an eye out for that reporting, along with a few assets we’ll be sending over, and we appreciate everybody’s time today. And hopefully we get to see you during our next webinar.

Ellie McCandless:

Howie Bienstock:
Thank you.

Gen Hanley:
Thanks all.

Ellie McCandless:
Yes, thanks.

Benny Estes: