7 ways to improve product experience (plus examples that nail it)

7 ways to improve product experience (plus examples that nail it)

Adelina Karpenkova
Adelina Karpenkova (Smartlook Team)  |  Last updated: Aug 23, 2023
18 mins read
For product teams, the most fascinating aspect of the journey begins after product launch. This is where you have the opportunity to see how customers interact with your app — and more often than not, expectations are quite different from reality.

Creating a great product experience is a neverending process. You need to monitor user behaviors, track engagement, communicate with customers, and then turn the insights you’ve collected into opportunities for improvement. 

But it’s well worth the effort. By taking the time to improve the product experience, you’ll do the following:

  • Drive more conversions
  • Boost customer loyalty
  • Increase customer retention
  • Reduce churn rates

All things considered, it’s a path toward achieving (and outperforming) your revenue goals.

So how do you actually do it? What does it mean to create a great product experience, and what steps should you take to achieve it?

In this guide, we explain how to collect product experience insights, including what you should pay specific attention to and what you should do with your newfound insights to improve the product experience.

We’ll cover:

Smartlook helps you collect quantitative and qualitative insights to make informed decisions regarding improving the product experience. Book a free demo to see how Smartlook helps you understand your customers and their pains, or try it yourself with a full-featured, 30-day trial (no credit card required).

What is product experience?

Product experience is the impression that users get when interacting with your product. It’s not just about what the product does but how it does it, how easy or difficult it is to use, and how it makes users feel.

Often referred to as the “customer journey within a product,” let’s take a pause to reflect on the connection between the product experience and customer journeys.

The customer journey involves all the touchpoints a customer makes when interacting with a company and its product(s). This includes interactions that occur before and during the product experience. 

The post-purchase customer journey is what a person does with your product, and the product experience is how they feel about these interactions.

There are several factors that determine the overall product experience:

  • Usability: Is the product interface user-friendly and easy to navigate?
  • Functionality: Does the product include the features users are looking for?
  • Design: Does the product have a modern and visually appealing design? 
  • Support: Can users resolve arising issues and get answers to their questions fast?
  • Value: Does the product provide great value for the price?

Creating a positive product experience is crucial for a SaaS business as it’s the key to creating long-lasting relationships with customers and increasing customer lifetime value.

Product experience vs. customer experience

The customer journey has the ability to make or break the product experience. So let’s take a moment to talk about the relationship between product experience and customer experience.

Customer experience is a mix of customer impressions from every interaction with your company, from the first moment they hear about you to ‘we’re sorry to see you leave’ emails. While the customer experience forms the overall brand perception, product experience is all about how your customers feel about your product.

Nebojsa Savicic of Plainly states that the product experience is part of the customer experience: 

“The difference between the product experience and the customer experience is reflected in the following: the customer experience is the way a user interacts with your company (e.g., customer success or customer support teams), while the product experience is their independent experience when interacting with your product. I would say that customer experience is definitely a broader term that also includes product experience, but it’s not vice versa.”
Nebojsa Savicic
Co-founder at Plainly

Simon Bacher of Ling App, refers to the customer experience as a combination of the buying journey experience and the actual product experience:

“There’s a thin line between product experience and the customer experience in terms of touchpoints. Product experience focuses more on all aspects of the product, such as its features and benefits and the emotional connection a customer has when engaging with it. 

On the other hand, the customer experience encompasses multiple touchpoints of the purchasing journey, including product awareness and interaction. Unifying and activating product touchpoints enhances the customer experience.”
Simon Bacher
Simon Bacher
CEO at Ling App

How to monitor and analyze product experience

Before you take action, you need to dig into product experience analytics. Start by collecting quantitative and qualitative product insights to spot issues relating to the product experience and understand the reasons behind them. 

Start with quantitative insights

First, turn to quantitative insights to collect statistics and spot trends in the product experience.

Have users been churning after a recent product update? Is there a decline in daily active users? Quantitative data will reveal the answers to these questions and help you understand what you should pay attention to.

Track user engagement metrics

Tracking user engagement metrics will give you a basic understanding of your product’s health. Some key metrics to track include:

  • Active users: the number of users who are actively using your product within a given time frame
  • Churn: the rate at which users are leaving your product
  • Retention: the percentage of users who continue to use your product over time

A UX tool like Google Analytics or Smartlook will help you collect these engagement metrics.

“One of the most important metrics that a product team should pay attention to before improving the PX is user engagement. User engagement indicates how much users are interacting with the platform and using its features. It is a key indicator of how successful your product is with users and helps inform decisions around the user experience.”
Natalia Tomchyshyn
Natalia Tomchyshyn
Marketing Director at Relokia

Only when you have a grasp of user engagement trends will you be able to dig deeper into the data. Now it’s time to monitor user behavior. 

Set up event tracking

Events consist of all user actions within your product. You need to set up event tracking to learn how exactly your customers interact with your app, including whether they’ve nailed navigation or not.

Smartlook is a product analytics platform that allows you to monitor in-app events. It enables you to track a variety of user events, including rage clicks, CTA clicks, interactions with non-clickable elements, etc.

By tracking these events, you can identify unpopular product features, spot usability problems, and see whether users are adopting new features successfully or not.

Monitor user paths

Tracking user paths will help you identify areas of your product that may be resulting in user drop-offs.

Let’s say a company sells an email marketing solution. After taking a look at user paths, the product team may discover that many users are abandoning their email campaigns at a certain stage, such as when they are creating email templates or designing email layouts. By investigating further, they may find that users are struggling to create visually appealing emails or that the available templates are not meeting their needs.

Smartlook’s funnels allow you to visualize the paths that users take through your product and see where they’re getting stuck and failing to complete intended actions.

To help you make sense of the data fast, Smartlook offers filters and custom views:

  • Retroactive funnels. Set a custom time period to see how user paths change over time
  • Funnel breakdowns. Segment user behavior data by location, events, and technology
  • Funnel anomalies. Set up anomaly monitoring to receive alerts when pre-defined rules aren’t met
  • Session recordings. Watch session recordings of all events in your funnel 

Collect qualitative insights

In addition to quantitative data, collecting qualitative insights can help you gain a deeper understanding of your users’ product experiences. Here are some ways to collect qualitative insights:

Watch users interact with your app

To understand real user behaviors and determine what is causing poor user engagement, you need to turn to session recordings.

Whenever you spot issues in your funnels (e.g., drop-offs), watch Smartlook’s session recordings, aka session replays, to uncover the reasons behind them. 

This is one of the most effective ways to detect opportunities to improve the product experience. You can see what exactly prevents users from completing specific tasks, uncover bugs and errors, and come up with ideas to improve your product’s user interface (UI).

Analyze customer support conversations

Customer support conversations may become a source of valuable insight into specific customer needs or pains that users are experiencing with your product.

You can use a qualitative data analysis tool like Dovetail to automatically consolidate insights from all customer support chats and detect repeating topics. Use your findings to prioritize your product roadmap and fix the most crucial issues first.

Talk to your customers

You can simply talk to your customers to better understand how they feel about your product, including what they’d like you to change.

Use surveys to back quantitative data with qualitative insights. A survey tool like Survicate will help you with this. You can create contextual in-app surveys to collect feedback on specific workflows or features in the wild.

Survicate integrates with Smartlook, which means that you connect real customer feedback from Survicate with web session recordings in Smartlook to get the full picture as it relates to the product experience.

“I typically like to schedule 1 on 1 interviews — remotely or in person. Try and structure interviews around what you see in the metrics. Since the metrics will tell you ‘what’ is going on, use the interviews to understand ‘why’ it’s happening. 

This way, you have hard numbers and metrics (the ‘what’) and behavior to suggest ‘why’ it’s happening with qualitative data, essentially giving you the full picture as to what to work on or improve next!”
Zack Naylor
Zack Naylor
Co-Founder at Aurelius

How to improve product experience (backed by real-life examples of experienced products)

After analyzing product experience insights, you should be ready to act. Based on what the data suggests, you’ll choose one of the following product experience management strategies:

Analyze and improve the onboarding experience

The onboarding experience is crucial to the product experience because it sets the tone for how users will perceive your product and whether they’ll stick around. 

If the data has shown that you’re losing new users or failing to earn loyal customers, you’ll need to revisit your onboarding flows. 

  • Create interactive product walkthroughs. Interactive guidance allows users to navigate your product features while completing tasks on their own. It helps users become more familiar with your product and feel more confident using it
  • Offer personalized onboarding support. Assign a dedicated account manager to guide new users during their first days with your product to make the onboarding experience as smooth as possible. Alternatively, you can offer one-on-one training sessions or chat support to provide immediate assistance 
  • Maintain an up-to-date knowledge base. Update your knowledge base and make sure it reflects all product changes 
“To improve product experience, it’s crucial to prioritize optimizing the user onboarding process. As the initial experience users have with a product, onboarding sets the tone for their ongoing experience. If the onboarding process is poorly designed and users find it confusing, overwhelming, or frustrating, they are likely to abandon the product before they have a chance to fully explore its features.

By focusing on improving the onboarding experience, product teams can help users feel motivated to use their product to its full potential. This can include simplifying the sign-up process, providing clear instructions and tutorials, and offering personalized guidance to users.”
Akash-Roy R.
Akash Roy
Product Manager at Napta

Example: Agendor

Agendor, a Brazilian CRM software company, used customer feedback to revamp its onboarding process.  

The company ran an in-app survey to learn about its users’ mobile experience. The results revealed that most users didn’t know how to use their mobile app. Based on this feedback, Agendor made several changes to their onboarding process, resulting in higher mobile app activation rates.

Optimize user paths

Do users drop off too often? You may need to revisit your workflows. Here’s how to do it:

  • Test and iterate. Once you’ve identified bottlenecks, test different solutions to see what works best. This could include simplifying the UI, improving load times, or adding contextual help. Iterate on these changes based on user feedback and analytics data
  • Streamline the user flow. Look for opportunities to streamline the user flow by eliminating unnecessary steps or consolidating multiple steps into a single action. This can help users complete tasks more quickly and with less effort
  • Provide contextual help. Consider using tooltips, walkthroughs, and other forms of in-product guidance to help users complete tasks more efficiently
“The most important thing to remember about improving the product experience is that it’s all about the user, not about the features. It’s easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of a product, but if you’re not considering how your customers will use it and what their needs are, you’re missing out on the opportunity to make your product the best it can be.

So start by mapping out the user’s journey through your app or service. Where do they start? What steps do they take? What questions do they ask themselves along the way? How do they decide when it’s time to move on?

Once you have a clear picture of where your users are coming from and where they’re going next, it becomes easier to identify areas where you can optimize their path through your app or service, so they get exactly what they need (and no more).”
Gauri Manglik
Gauri Manglik
CEO & Co-founder of Instrumentl

Example: Airbnb

In 2015, Airbnb redesigned its mobile app with the aim of improving the user experience, making it easier for users to find and book accommodation.

One of the key changes Airbnb made was to simplify the user flow for booking a stay. Previously, users had to navigate through multiple screens to complete a booking, which could be confusing and time-consuming. With the new design, Airbnb consolidated the booking process into a single, streamlined flow that allows users to complete bookings in just a few steps.

Implement in-app guidance

When you’re struggling to drive product adoption or reduce customer churn, implementing in-app guidance may help. 

Here are some formats you can use to support your users throughout their journey:

  • Use tooltips. Tooltips are small pop-up messages that provide users with information about specific page elements. You can use them to explain complex features, provide helpful tips, and guide users through specific processes
  • Offer contextual help. This refers to help content that’s triggered by specific user behavior or actions. For example, if a user clicks on a button that requires a specific setting to be enabled, contextual help can provide guidance on how to enable it
  • Provide in-app tutorials. In-app tutorials are step-by-step guides that walk users through specific tasks or processes 
  • Use videos and animations. These formats will help you demonstrate complex features or processes. Use them to provide step-by-step instructions, highlight specific features, and showcase use cases

Example: Salesforce

One example of a company that successfully implemented in-app guidance is Salesforce. They created a comprehensive in-app training system called guidance prompts that allows users to create help content for their Salesforce interfaces. Now, Salesforce users can create customized CRM interfaces that are intuitive for teams and speed up the onboarding process.

Remove unnecessary features

Removing unnecessary features is part of user flow optimization, but it deserves a separate section. 

The abundance of features in a product creates clutter and confusion. Oftentimes, removing features, buttons, and workflows not only simplifies the user interface but also makes the product more value proposition-focused. 

When you spot an underused feature, ask yourself whether you need to work on improving feature adoption or simply remove it from your product. While it may be enticing to fight for a feature your team worked hard on, it’s often more rational not to.

Example: CricHeroes

One example of a company that successfully removed an unnecessary step to improve the product experience is CricHeroes. They used Smartlook to analyze user behavior and discovered that some features were being neglected, causing confusion for users. 

CricHeroes users can challenge other teams to matches right in the app. When the CricHeroes team looked into its workflows, they realized a lot of users were abandoning this process as it required them to share their phone numbers with other people. After removing this step and implementing an in-app messaging system, the company fixed the issue and saw higher user engagement.

Update the user interface

Updating the UI is another way to address a poor user experience. If your users don’t follow the paths you’ve designed for them or even complain about your app’s UI, it’s time to make your product more intuitive.

To update the UI and improve the product experience, product teams should:

  • Conduct a design audit: A design audit is an assessment of the current UI to identify areas for improvement. This includes analyzing user journeys, reviewing user feedback, and running usability testing
  • Incorporate user feedback: Gathering feedback from users regarding your current UI will point out areas for improvement. Product teams can use this feedback to inform the design process and ensure the updated UI meets user needs and expectations
  • Simplify the layout: A cluttered or confusing layout makes it difficult for users to navigate a product. Simplify the layout by removing unnecessary elements and organizing content in a clear and logical way
  • Use a consistent style: Staying consistent across all elements of the UI will make your product more visually appealing and memorable. This includes using a consistent color palette, typography, etc.

Example: StoragePug

After analyzing UX metrics and user behaviors with Smartlook, StoragePug took a series of steps to improve the product experience, including UI updates. 

The product team designed small, non-interactive tiles for its product dashboard. However, session recordings revealed that when customers tried interacting with the tiles, it hurt the user experience. After spotting loads of rage clicks, the team created bigger, clickable tiles, allowing users to get the necessary information with just one click.

Set up automatic issue detection

A good product experience isn’t just about intuitive UI or smooth workflows. It’s also about the ability to resolve arising issues fast. 

To prevent churn and provide a delightful product experience no matter what, set up automatic issue detection and address crashes immediately.

In addition to providing user behavior insights, Smartlook delivers detailed crash reports, helping you spot and fix issues that frustrate users. You can watch crash recordings to trace crashes and determine which actions lead to them.

Example: Kiwi.com

Kiwi.com’s UX research team uses Smartlook to review bugs and user experience-related issues and report them to relevant teams.

Whenever they spot a bug or a UX issue, they send a request to the appropriate team and attach a link to the session recording in Smartlook. This way, it’s easy for all stakeholders to quickly get context into every bug or crash and resolve issues immediately.

Create a cohesive customer support system

What if you notice your customers need help navigating your product, but you don’t have the resources to make immediate product changes? In this case, you’ll need to build a strong customer support system.

An excellent customer support team often makes up for tiny shortcomings and helps establish long-lasting customer relationships and prevent churn.

Here are some ways that businesses can create a cohesive customer support system:

  • Establish a clear support process: Make it easy for customers to get in touch with your support team, outline the types of issues they can resolve, and estimate the expected response time
  • Offer multiple support channels: Provide customers with a range of options for getting help, including email, phone, and live chat support
  • Train support staff: Equip your support staff with the tools and resources they need to help customers fast. This includes access to product documentation, FAQs, and a knowledge base
  • Use an automated ticketing system: Set up automated ticket routing to ensure support tickets are sent immediately to the right staff

Example: Envato

Before updating its support system, Envato couldn’t keep up with the volume of support requests they were receiving and was struggling to coordinate with multiple customer databases.

To address the issue, the company implemented Kayako’s single-view dashboard, which gave its support agents a complete view of every interaction between the company and its customers.

Having all the necessary information in one place allows the Envato team to handle more requests in less time while increasing the quality of customer service. 

Improve your product experience with qualitative and quantitative insights

Before you make any changes to your product, turn to the data first. From measuring user engagement to monitoring user behaviors and product performance to talking to your customers — you need to perform a detailed analysis of what’s affecting your product experience right now.

Smartlook helps you collect insights to make better product decisions. This data allows you to do the following:

  • Detect issues relating to product experience
  • Reveal the reasons behind these issues
  • Create a customer-centric strategy for improving the product experience

Book a free demo to receive a detailed presentation of how Smartlook can help you improve your product experience. Or try Smartlook right now with a full-featured, 30-day trial.

Adelina Karpenkova
Adelina Karpenkova

is a freelance writer with a background in SaaS marketing. She loves discovering new product marketing strategies, gaining insights for product experts, and turning her knowledge into helpful content. When she's not writing, she plays tennis or knits cozy sweaters.

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