Product experience is a critical part of a typical customer journey that focuses on the person’s experience with the product and how well it delivers on their desires, needs, thoughts, and emotions about it.
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Let’s face it – As brands, we face an incredibly tricky situation.
On the one hand, we understand that the product makes customers loyal to us. We know that as many as 77% of customers confirm that product is the most important reason for their loyalty.
But at the same time, we don’t often have an opportunity to expose our potential customers to the product. Not in the usual ways, at least. For one, customers have embraced and often prefer a digital product experience. After all, much of the buying process has already moved online, and the current global pandemic has only fueled that process further.
Not to mention that customers like to shop outside of normal business hours. The peak hours for shopping are now between 10, and 11 am and 8 and 9 pm. Needless to say, that second window doesn’t leave a huge opportunity for providing a traditional product experience.
So, what could we do? How can we conquer the challenge and continue providing an incredible product experience that drives our sales amidst all these changes?
That’s precisely what we’re going to discuss in this guide. First, we’ll talk about product experience and understand its role in the buying process.
You’ll also learn why, despite the digitization of the process, product experience increasingly matters. Then, we’ll go through the types of product experiences. Finally, we will briefly go over what you need to do to create an exceptional experience with your products.
It’s quite a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it.
What is Product Experience?
Let me clear something quickly before we discuss what the term – product experience – actually means. Because you see, you can often find the term used about software products only. That can be quite misleading, though.
Product experience (note, sometimes referred to with a simple abbreviation, PX) can relate to any type of product available on the market.
Sure, we might experience different product categories differently. Yet, we have a product experience with all of them, not just software.
So, with that out of the way, let’s see what product experience means.
IGI Global calls product experience “the entire set of effects that are elicited by the interaction between a user and a product.” Furthermore, the publication defines the three core elements of product experience as:
- Aesthetic experience – the degree to which our senses are gratified by the product, how it looks and feels.
- Experience of meaning – the whole set of meanings we attach to the product. This is how we perceive its usefulness or the status that we might derive from owning it.
- Emotional experience – feelings and emotions that the product elicits in us customers. This is also where we manifest our expectations and desires for the product.
Note something interesting – The definition clearly states that product experience begins before customers actually see or use a product.
Just think of how the world reacted to this ad.
It practically set the target market on fire. As a result, the product sold extremely well, and, as Macworld noted, “it held the consumer desktop torch with style until the launch of the comparatively homely iMac G5 two years later.”
And yet, when the ad aired, most customers hadn’t even had a chance to experience it first hand.
But such is the power of product experience. It starts before we own a product and has an incredible power to influence our buying decisions.
The difference between Product Experience (PX) and User Experience (UX)
As we’re trying to understand what product experience is, I think it’s worth covering its relation with the user experience.
Because the two terms are not synonymous.
- User experience (UX), typically, relates to the experiences a user has with a digital good or service. The term is specific to the software industry. As the jokes goes, only the software industry and drug traffickers use the term “users”. In contrast, we often refer to all experiences customers have with a brand — from digital touchpoints, to shipping, to support — as customer experience (CX).
- Product experience (PX), is the experience a person has with a product, no matter if that is a physical product, a hybrid product (part analog, part digital), or a completely digital product. Product experience begins when a person perceives product information for the first time. It could be seeing a product in store but also, checking it out online, through content, visuals, videos, and more. Having said that, product experience will encompass what happens after the purchase as well.
Why Product Experience Matters (And Why It Will Matter Even More)
We’ve covered quite a lot of arguments for product experience already.
You know that it can affect the buying decision, and because of that, PX can have an enormous effect on your sales.
But there’s more. I will even risk stating that soon, product experience, particularly a digital one, will become one of the key drivers behind purchases.
Think about it; Our buying behavior is rapidly moving online. We purchase more and more products without actually physically experiencing them first. Instead, we’re exposed to different content assets about it.
Here are just a few examples:
- Specialized landing pages provide the world-class experience of a product.
- Immersive 3D viewers give us an experience of product usage
- In-content shopping, product comparison tools, product configurators, and more help us refine our product perception.
Those content-driven, digital product experiences are when the moment of a buying decision happens.
- Product adoption – By customer data and analyzing user behavior, you can create better content to help onboard new users, and drive product and feature adoption.
- Customer retention – PX can also drive customer success. In this case, you can use customer feedback to measure the overall customer experience and discover ways to reduce churn and increase the customer lifetime value.
- Market research and product development – Once again, product teams can improve their decision-making process to further drive expansion and growth by evaluating product analytics data and customer feedback.
Types of Product Experience
Earlier, we covered the three elements of a product experience – aesthetics, meaning, and emotion.
There is another way to categorize product experience, however. This one looks at how the experience happens. And we can establish at least three such ways:
- Sensory experience, which includes our perception of the product through visuals, sounds, and so on. This is the category in which we experience a lot of digital content about a product.
- Usage experience happens when we’re physically exposed to a product and get to see it in action. It is worth noting that this category also refers to digital products like software. Although technically, we do not hold them in our hands, we still experience software and use it.
- A personalized experience that communicates how relevant a product is to our needs. This is when elements such as personalized user onboarding, user experience, activation, and reactivation come into play.
Perception of the product through our senses.
Focuses on visuals, sounds and other content types to gain attention.
Actual usage of the product, also software.
Focuses on experiences resulting from the product in action.
Relevancy through personalization.
Focuses on personalizing experiences to drive product success.
Who Owns Product Experience?
If there’s one thing that all we’ve covered so far suggests is this – Product experience is complex. Certainly, it’s not something that a single department could (or even should) manage.
So, who should be involved in the product experience management, then? Well, let’s break it by departments:
- The product team. These people design the product, including various aspects of the user experience.
- Marketing – Most likely, another department that immediately comes to mind, and rightfully so. Marketing generates the content that drives much of today’s product experience, after all.
- Sales teams conduct demos and move leads further down the sales funnel. They use product information to do this, expose customers to the product, and also set many of their expectations about it.
- The support team provides much-needed help when customers face challenges with using the product. Their responsiveness and assistance can also affect the post-purchase experience.
How to Create and Manage Product Experience
Here are a few ideas on how to use the data collected via the three methods above:
Content. Provide relevant content along all customer touchpoints. By doing so, you can ensure that customers experience the product in many different ways, and at many different stages of their buying experience.
TIP: This is where having a strong content supply chain comes into play.
A content supply chain helps you define and manage the core elements of content production. With it, you can plan, create, manage, and route content to all desired channels. In short, the supply chain helps you ensure that your brand provides a consistent product experience regardless of how a customer comes into contact with your content.
Analytics. Using data to analyze the customer journey to identify user activity. The purpose here is to develop a complete picture of user behavior at different stages of the buying cycle, feature adoption levels, and more.
Funnel analysis that can reveal how customers experience the product at different stages of their buying journey and product engagement.
Customer feedback reveals what customers think, feel, and want from your product. Use surveys, conduct customer interviews, and continuously review product analytics to understand the customers’ sentiment towards the product.
Brand Consistency. Boosting product experiences by using the same visual assets across the entire marketing and brand communication channels – both online and in print.
Digital Signage. Hybrid. Providing your shoppers better experiences in your stores with digital signage.
How to Scale Product Experience with CELUM
If there’s one thing that helps drive a better product experience, particularly in today’s multi-channel world, it’s consistency. It’s when customers are exposed to the same brand assets, regardless of the channel, they begin to experience the product the way you intended it.
CELUM helps you manage and deploy the right product content at the right time, everywhere. Get started now.