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Everyone has been there: after a long day of work, shopping and fulfilling life’s obligations, you are exhausted. And starving. So you pull out your phone and open a food delivery app. You can now sit back and relax, knowing that a meal will be on your doorstep within an hour.
In this case, the convenience of having your food delivered is just as important as the taste and quality of the food itself. The same principle applies to more than just food delivery. At the heart of every product or service lies the most important part: the experience.
Delivering experience, not just product
As a child I worked in my family’s pizzeria on weekends. One day, when I was putting on a pizza, my father said something that has stuck with me: “It’s not like we deliver pizza, even though that might be the physical thing we bring. What we do is deliver an experience and provide convenience for someone.”
Startups need to take this into account. Especially in the world of B2B software, there is often too much emphasis on creating a product versus an experience. Most tech companies are so hyper-focused on functionality that experience falls by the wayside. Fortunately, there has been a recent trend for B2B software companies to adopt some of the customer experience (CX) best practices that we normally associate with B2C brands.
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When it comes to SaaS (or whatever, really) your product isn’t everything – it’s just one leg of the crutch. Experience is comprehensive and companies need to think about everything through the lens of the user. Each point of connection should be incredibly seamless and enhance the experience someone has with your company and product: if someone wants to try a product, they should be able to easily find, install and use it without having to talk to a salesperson, or if that’s not technically possible is a wonderful way to learn more.
But this is not always the case with SaaS. In general, different parts of the user experience are divided into silos, which makes for a disjointed experience. For example, a user may fall in love with a product while trying it out, but have a less enjoyable time using it regularly. These negative outcomes are normal when each experience is owned by a different team within the company, teams that care about different things.
Building cohesive and exceptional experiences requires a change of mindset. Instead of producing shiny new features, your top priority should be to build empathy for users by gaining a deep understanding of their workflow and pain points. Just adding a CX team to achieve this is not enough. Empathy should be woven into every part of the business, and creating wonderful experiences should be the MO for everyone, not just the CX teams. This ensures a smooth user experience from start to finish and ensures alignment between teams.
KYP: Know your problem
Experience is crucial, but another piece of the puzzle is determining what problem you are actually trying to solve with your product. It sounds like a no-brainer, but all too often companies get so caught up in what’s happening in the bigger market, or become so overly focused on new technologies, that they end up missing the bigger picture. An example of this is many companies’ apparent obsession with automating things using artificial intelligence and machine learning to do more. But what if it’s not really about doing more?
Think about it through the “jobs to be done” framework: every time someone buys a product, they are doing it to solve a problem, i.e. to get a job done . According to the example above, is automation really the “job to be done?”
At a pizzeria, the work that needs to be done is more than just filling people’s stomachs – it’s about solving problems for convenience. At startups, the job is to help people do their jobs better and faster, create fun and make users happy along the way. From a product standpoint, this requires taking a step back to really understand the problem your offering is addressing. Is it even worth solving? Does your solution add value? What is the change your users will experience?
Most companies would claim that they are already doing this, but there is not enough emphasis on tackling the ‘task to be done’. Too often, product design teams don’t even have the ability to build empathy with the users who rely on their products. Instead, they design their offerings based on the company’s established strategy and research without fully understanding what their users are trying to achieve.
CX trends from the service industry will continue to affect B2B software only as the importance of leading with experience becomes even more important for success. As consumers, we expect every product we buy to be easy and pleasant to use. Why should SaaS be any different? By fostering user empathy and focusing on the “task that remains to be done”, companies can start building better experiences.
Pouyan Salehi is CEO and co-founder of Notepad
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