“What is your product, really?” If you work for a technology company, you might think of it as the item you directly sell, the software that you ship, or the basic service you provide. But this is only part of the answer. Your product is actually the complete experience and relationship you and your customers share.
At Aha!, this is what we named the Complete Product Experience (CPE). I write extensively about this concept and building products in Lovability — the #1 Amazon bestselling book.
I believe that too many product and engineering managers only think about the technology that they lovingly create as “the product.” Yes, that is a major component of the story — but it is not everything.
So how can you start thinking more broadly about what you create and optimize every aspect of the customer experience? This is important to consider because customers are deciding how much they adore your product with each interaction with your company.
Read on to see how I begin defining what the Complete Product Experience really is. I think you will agree that it is a more holistic way to think about what you are really building.
—The following is an exclusive excerpt from Lovability.—
In the world of software and technology, the Complete Product Experience (CPE) has seven main components, presented here in a rough order that shows the typical product adoption process. However, the reality is that customers tend to adopt products unpredictably, according to their own tastes and priorities. An organization must be flexible enough to handle multiple adoption paths while staying focused on delivering a high-quality, lovable CPE.
The seven components of the CPE are…
1. Marketing is how potential customers learn about your product and determine if it might be a fit to help them solve their problem. This is taking on new forms as people grow increasingly connected: social platforms, online reviews, and company-published content.
2. Sales is the process of prospects learning more about the product from a company representative and possibly using it in a trial. They educate themselves about the product and get the information they need to determine if the solution is right for them.
3. Technology refers to the core set of features that customers pay for. In our case, that is the online software that they log into our servers to use. For others, it could be the actual phone, credit card, or even an insurance policy that is purchased. However, technology should represent not the end of a transaction but the beginning of a transparent, interactive relationship.
4. Supporting systems make it possible to deliver the product. These are internal systems that the customer rarely sees but which can have a huge impact on their overall happiness: billing, provisioning, analytics, and more. For example, if you call customer support and the representative always seems to have a comprehensive history of your purchases and support issues at their fingertips, you can thank supporting systems.
5. Third-party integrations enable new products to fit into how the customer already lives and works. All products exist in an ecosystem, so they have to play nice with the other products the customer is already using and the way that customer already works.
6. Support is everything from answering customer questions to training and even helping customers integrate your product with their existing systems. Support describes all activity that helps the customer achieve something meaningful with a product.
7. Policies are the rules that companies set to govern how they do business. At their best, they provide a framework for employees to be their best. At their worst, they create unresolvable frustration that drives customers to ask “to speak with the manager.”
My new book Lovability provides valuable lessons and actionable steps for product and company builders everywhere. You can find it for sale in bookstores nationwide and online from your favorite booksellers.
What is your definition of a product?