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5 ways to build better products with your customers in mind
Customer satisfaction shouldn't feel like chasing rainbows. And it doesn't have to when you focus on building better products. Learn how we do it at Hotjar.
Last updated15 Sep 2022
Reading time6 min
Brand loyalty is lauded as a key component in building long-lasting relationships with customers. But it takes more than having an incredible story that resonates with your target customers. If the product you're pushing doesn't impact their lives, then branding isn't enough to sustain your business and instill consumer trust.
This is why focusing on building better products is vital to building a solid brand. It's what makes customers of brands such as Apple and Google continue to purchase from those brands time and time again.
Let's explore what that looks like at Hotjar and how you can make building better products a core part of your business model.
Building better products—what does that mean?
Building a better product means making it a more practical option for your target customers by continuously making improvements to enhance the customer experience.
But what does it mean to ‘improve’ and make a product ‘better’? What criteria define whether your enhancements are going in the right direction?
At Hotjar, we define a great product in several ways:
It solves real user problems. Adding features you think are nice to have won't cut it—you need add-ons that help users accomplish goals and overcome roadblocks in their everyday lives or at work.
It’s pleasant to use. No one likes difficult, unintuitive interfaces. The product should be easy to use from the start and every day going forward.
It increases revenue. Great products don't just help customers solve problems—they also help the company improve its financial health so it can continue delivering value to those customers.
To make this possible, Hotjar is constantly industry benchmarking. We keep a pulse on what's happening in our industry and competitor landscape so we can identify ways to evolve our product offering and make it more helpful to our target customers.
We don't exist in a vacuum where we can ignore what's happening around us. Building better products requires staying on top of technology trends, shifting user needs, and external factors (like a global health crisis) and understanding how those things affect consumer trends.
Recent world events have shifted everyone's lives. We’ve paid attention to our customers' needs, offering support to companies negatively impacted by COVID-19 or the war in Ukraine.
We did this by postponing billing for two to three months to stand in solidarity with our customers. Our goal was to ensure customers had continued access to our product even if they couldn't afford it at the moment. This didn't make our product itself better, but it improved the customer experience.
How product teams can build better products with customers in mind
Before creating a product or feature roadmap, the end user must be at the forefront of your decisions. Don't add a feature they don't need or want because a competitor rolled it out. Pay attention to what your customers ask for and deliver on it.
This requires doing several things:
Using continuous discovery practices: listen to feedback from your customers and observe them using your product. Ask questions about their experiences to see what products and features to work on next and how to enhance them.
Creating a healthy balance between discovery and delivery: don't spend too much time in the discovery phase, and don't overload your roadmap with feature ideas. Set limits for discovery and prioritize the most important features, so you have enough capacity to execute well during the delivery phase.
Dogfooding: use your product to see what it's like firsthand. Are there feature gaps or ways to make it more user-friendly? If you have an idea, test it before putting it into production.
Hosting user research sessions: gather information directly from users. Some ideas include feedback surveys, one-on-one interviews, and case studies/testimonials.
Industry benchmarking: consistently analyze your competition and market. Learn what trends are rising and falling, ensuring you're focused on the right areas.
Keep a record of all the insights you gather to take a data-informed approach to every product change made now and in the future.
Using data to improve your products
Being data-driven comes with advantages, but it's not without its faults—it can be short-sighted with lots of pitfalls, particularly if quantitative data is all you use. Focusing too much on one kind of data removes half the picture, leaving you with gaps that can hurt your product.
Being data-informed is a better approach. Besides quantitative data, it also relies on qualitative insights as well as several other factors:
Customer behavioral insights collected from interviews and tools
User research from one-on-one calls, online reviews, and feedback forms
Product discovery based on features and ideas brought forth in discussions with users
Industry benchmarking to identify customer and competitor trends
Strategy alignment to drive decision-making and ensure you meet business goals
To get a bird's-eye view of everything, analyze a lot of quantitative data—like conversions, engagement, and retention rates—along with qualitative data to assess product usage and customer satisfaction.
The expensive mistake product teams make when improving products
The most common mistake I see product teams make is designing or enhancing a product without first validating it with their users. User validation is a critical step in deciding what features and products to add to your roadmap and budget.
Build a prototype and allow users to demo it for free. Get feedback using a survey or interview to determine if it's a hit or miss.
Another option is to conduct moderated or unmoderated user research sessions to see engagement in action. If you have a hypothesis about a feature customers might like, give it a test run in an A/B test.
Validating product and feature ideas increases your team's confidence that they are delivering something your customers truly want, and increases the chance your product will be successful and the impact it’ll have.
One product that does all of this exceptionally well—Google Maps
It may be a banal example, but I believe Google Maps does a fantastic job of delivering features its customers find useful. To this day, Google Maps is one of my favorite products to use daily.
Why does it make it to the top of my list? Here are several reasons:
It’s easy to use
It has enough features to make it versatile
It integrates with my Google account and other products I use
It works well across all of my devices
Google Maps is more than a navigation system—I use it to get from point A to point B, save my favorite places (I have 4,000 starred locations in my account!), and create and share itineraries with others I'm traveling with. Plus, it helps me to discover new places using the ‘nearby’ feature.
If more product teams focused on core features users could enjoy using all the time, they’d be able to build lean tools that are simple but high-value. Do ongoing qualitative and quantitative research and pay attention to market and user trends, and you'll build better products your customers will love faster.
In fact, this is a guiding principle of Hotjar’s Just Cause initiative—imagining a world where all businesses give you an experience you enjoy.
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