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How putting product experience at the center of your strategy can help your company grow
Happy customers come from great product experiences. And it's why Hotjar places customers at the heart of its strategy—learn how you can do the same.
Last updated31 Aug 2022
Reading time7 min
Think of a time when a product experience wasn't so great. Maybe the sign-up was fast and simple, but canceling required sitting on the phone with customer support. Getting a representative to respond took weeks, and your card was charged before they could get around to closing your subscription.
This isn’t something anyone wants to go through, yet it's all too common. Brands should be working harder to improve the product experience at every angle—from sign-up and product usage all the way to closing an account or canceling a subscription.
If you sell a product, enhancing the customer experience with your product is key to building loyalty. Here's Hotjar's take on what it means to build better product experiences.
What makes a good product experience?
A good product experience leaves the customer satisfied with their purchase and increases the odds they’ll stick around. To do this, you must build a product that does all of the following:
Solves customer problems
Addresses customers' needs
Offers a delightful experience
This involves not only building a great brand but also creating a robust customer support system.
Building a brand customers love
Product experience isn't just about the product itself—it's also about the brand experience. Many companies create compelling brand stories that resonate with users. In a sense, the brand is complementary to the core product, offering a deeper experience that turns customers into advocates.
Zappos, an online shoe retailer based in the United States, is a prime example of a company with an excellent brand and product experience. People know them just as much for their stellar support and return policy as they do for their vast online store.
Then there are brands that focus on publicly sharing their building journey to connect with their audience. Being transparent and including people in the challenges they face and lessons they learn along the way fosters incredible brand loyalty.
I'm more inclined to use Basecamp or Buffer over competitors because of their content. I find it insightful and genuine, and it has indirectly helped me in my role—even before I discovered their products. So whenever I’m in need of a product like theirs, guess which brands I'm going to choose?
Creating a cohesive customer support system
Sales, support, and product teams play a pivotal role in delivering a delightful customer experience. When a customer has a bad day with your product, someone from your team should be there to help them through it. If you don’t provide this, it can hurt the experience and lead to customer turnover.
But you can prevent that by forming a collaborative environment between the three teams that affect customers the most: sales, support, and product development. Working together, these teams can ensure customers are getting the most value from your product—from first contact to product purchase and beyond.
There's no silver bullet to achieve this level of collaboration, but making sure the teams engage with each other regularly through recurring calls or async communications will go a long way.
Each team has touchpoints with users but with differing goals. Maintaining open contact with one another ensures the overall product experience is positive, and the product development process is holistic at its core.
For instance, support needs a way to flag high-priority bugs that require attention immediately, so product teams are alerted and can act. This increases customer satisfaction while reducing the burden on support teams.
It's the same with the sales team, which receives incredibly useful user feedback and requests. If the sales team communicates these with the product team, they can add features or improvements to the roadmap and prioritize them accordingly.
Effective, open, and frequent communication between sales, support, and product teams is critical to improving product experiences.
How putting product experience at the center can grow your company
Placing product experience at the heart of Hotjar's mission is what has made our brand what it is today. I'm fortunate to be part of a company that values this approach. Over the years, we’ve improved both our product and customer satisfaction.
How have we made this happen? There are some key steps we took early on and still do today:
Having dedicated sessions where we all analyze feedback from users
Working in highly cross-functional teams to capture differing perspectives on how to evolve our products
Putting product experience at the core of our strategy and goal setting
This year, we set a company-wide goal to increase the feedback score we receive from users. The aim was to reach a 4.5/5 average.
With initiatives like this, we’ve been able to grow our company in a way that encourages us to put users first in everything we do. We even assess each other based on these criteria via peer feedback during our 360 performance reviews.
Why some companies are still creating bad customer experiences
It's unfortunate that some companies still use outdated practices, putting profits above their customers. While this approach boosts company profit margins in the short term and keeps them in operation, it's not a sustainable model.
Engaging in unethical practices, disrespecting users, and overlooking team members' well-being have unavoidable negative long-term effects. Companies that get away with this today are less likely to in the future—consumers are growing more and more conscious of the kind of brands they engage with. The bar is being raised not just for products but also for the companies behind them.
Example of a memorable brand experience
My most memorable brand experience was with Zappos. I'm not sure if they still do this, but they used to send out a printed version of their Culture Book. It included a lot of the secret sauce of what made their team happy and their company successful.
One day I was passing through Las Vegas, where Zappos is headquartered, and went to their campus. I wanted to join the tour where they show different departments and behind-the-scenes operations, but the tours were all booked. Luckily for me, while I was in the lobby asking about it, one of their tour guides was also there picking up a package. She overheard me and offered to give me the tour herself—even though it was her day off.
I got to connect with the guide one-on-one, enjoy my own private tour (normally they run in groups of about 20), and meet a lot of the staff. Afterward, they even gave me a free taxi voucher to take me back to my accommodation.
I had never thought to purchase shoes from Zappos before, but that day they gave me a memory I'll carry with me forever. It's a story I’ve told at least 10 times by now—and a great testament to the values they have as a company.
How Hotjar helps businesses create memorable product experiences
At Hotjar, we imagine a world where all businesses offer users positive experiences. It’s a lofty goal, but something our product actively helps nearly one million sites to do. We're lucky to offer a product that's closely tied to our vision.
Hotjar provides tools to customers that help them better understand their users and how to better serve their needs. The tools accomplish this in several ways:
Capturing anonymized recordings of customers using their product
Visualizing interactions using heatmaps
Capturing instant user feedback
Sending out surveys to better understand user sentiment
When working to improve your product experience, don’t forget to include these two important things:
Practice dogfooding. Continually use your own product to place yourself in your customers’ shoes and understand what works, what doesn't, and why. This empowers you to empathize with your users’ needs.
Adopt continuous discovery practices. It's critical for product teams to balance discovery and delivery work—doing passive or active user research regularly is key. I recommend reading Teresa Torres’ book Continuous Discovery Habits to learn more.
If you can get all your departments on board with collecting and sharing user feedback and insights, it'll create harmony between teams and push product development consistently towards customer satisfaction. At the end of the day, that's what matters most.
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