Product Planners have to be obsessed with the development of their products.
What do consumers really need? What features are essential? What will resonate with the market?
It can be a little too easy to aggressively pursue product development in a way that drives a misalignment between expectation and reality in the customer's experience. Of course, product planners want to create the perfect product, but even an ideal model can produce a negative customer experience if you don’t plan ahead.
There can be real repercussions when a business fails to meet customers’ expectations. In fact, studies predict that customer experience will become even more important than price in 2020.
The first step towards preventing a bad customer experience is to understand what it means to have one.
What Does A Bad Customer Experience Look Like?
A bad customer experience occurs when a customer believes that a product will perform a certain way, but their experience with that product does not align with their preconceived expectation.
A few examples of products not aligning with expectations include:
- Google's Google Glass introduced in 2013, which failed to connect with customers and was discontinued in 2015.
- Coca-Cola's New Coke introduced in 1985, which is considered by many to be one of the biggest product flops of all time.
- Ford's 1957 Edsel, which car buyers found overpriced, unattractive, and not futuristic enough, which was Ford's main selling point. Ford lost $350 million over Edsel.
There can be a number of root causes for poor customer experience, but it may be a combination of:
- Marketing miscommunications that misrepresent the actual function of the product
- Overzealous sales efforts that present a 'miracle cure' when the product is really a 'band-aid solution'
- The product works for its intended purpose, but it is not user-friendly or is too complicated to fully implement
- Customer isn’t well onboarded so doesn’t realize the full value
- The product design did not take into account the actual experience of using it
Regardless of the reason, the result of bad customer experience is always negative. This is a guaranteed way to build mistrust in a consumer base and drive customers away to seek other options.
This is so true that 86% of customers are found to prefer to pay more if it means that they will get a better customer experience.
If you want to ensure only successful products are released to market, here are five strategies that will help you avoid a bad customer experience.
1. Always Examine A Product From The User's Point Of View
Every product should be fully understood from the user's perspective, and it should be designed in a way that responds to their needs. When a customer misuses a product in a way that deviates from the product planner's vision, this will likely result in a negative experience.
This is because the design of the product and the customer's needs are misaligned, which is usually a direct result of failure to consider the user's point of view.
This all starts by gaining intimate knowledge of your customers.
Do you know exactly who your customer is?
Do you know their pain points?
Will your product provide a solution to their problem(s)?
If you can fully answer these types of questions - then all design and product features need to flow from this understanding.
2. Ensure That Marketing Efforts Align With What Product Planners Intended
Marketing departments are incentivized to get leads, gain attention, and provide a successful ramp into sales. Still, if marketing initiatives are allowed to run unchecked, this can sometimes result in a misrepresentation of a product.
There is a fine line between creative advertising and misleading information. It can be easy to exaggerate or over-emphasize product features in a way that can damage the customer experience by inflating expectations.
The best marketing campaigns will put a magnifying glass over the best features of the product and amplify attention towards those features. However, if marketing initiatives are making claims that do not fairly represent the product - get ready for a ton of upset customers.
3. Educate Sales Teams To Understand The Product Fully
To avoid bad customer experiences, a company needs to make sure that their sales team is fully trained with strong product knowledge. Sales teams need to fully understand the customer pain points product planners were aiming to address with the product. Sales needs to sell a product based on its true characteristics and features; otherwise, they will be misleading customers into a purchase.
A misinformed customer is a primary driver of negative experiences with a product. Of course, any business wants to empower its sales team to close deals, but this should always be enabled through in-depth knowledge of the product's benefits to avoid attracting clientele under false claims.
The temporary gains of a small sale are quickly lost if you need to provide a refund or if your reputation is damaged due to poor customer experience.
4. Empower The Customer To Use The Product Successfully
On occasion, a fantastic product can fail if a customer is not educated on how to use it for their needs properly. This is particularly true for products with a high number of features or an elaborate solution to a complex problem.
As a product manager or product planner, it can sometimes be easy to forget that users do not hold the same intimate knowledge of a product like the ones who created it. A customer can only take a product at its face value, and if they don't fully understand how it works, then they can quickly lose interest or have a negative experience with the product.
Customer education is widely considered a key element to customer retention. Brands that understand this and build customer support channels like self-help resource pages, onboarding programs, and content marketing education campaigns that capture the customer experience from start to finish are much more likely to report positive growth trends.
5. Design For Simple Problem / Solution Responses
It can be tempting to address multiple problems with a single product, but doing so risks over-complicated features that too easily result in a negative customer experience.
Of course, businesses need to balance product complexity with its effectiveness, but the design should always be oriented around simplicity to ensure the most positive customer experience. Products need to be designed for ease of use to truly capture the loyalty of a customer. If the amount of effort required to solve a problem using a product outweighs the damage done by that problem, then a customer is more likely to simply live with that problem rather than navigate an overly complex solution.
Create Positive Experiences With New Customers
While all of these strategies will help you promote more positive experiences with your customers, there is one final lesson that should be emphasized: Positive experiences are much more critical with new customers.
Established customers tend to be a bit more forgiving or patient with a poorly designed product if they already have brand loyalty. But, a new customer has no trust or loyalty established with a brand, and thus your reputation will be much more damaged by a bad experience.
We offer powerful software that helps product planners and managers of configurable products to strategically analyze product features during the initial phases of the product life cycle. Follow our blog below to learn more about us and access future articles on product planning and how to release more successful products to market.
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