All businesses sell products. Whatever they might be—a laptop, a phone, groceries, a trip to the Bahamas, dinner in a restaurant—anything that someone pays money for is a product.
Or so we all thought.
I am about to argue that your product is not a product. Your product is, in fact, an experience. Think about it. What is a product in isolation? Nothing! It’s the experience of the product that is the real customer takeaway. The experience is the whole package—the sum total of interactions with your product and services; with your brand.
Why am I making this distinction? Because if you think you’re in the business of selling products, your success metrics will apply to, well, …to products. When, if in actual fact you’re selling experiences, your metrics should arguably apply to experiences.
Still wondering what the heck I’m talking about?
OK – Let’s make this concrete.
You know how the same jar of spaghetti sauce can cost a lot more at an upscale grocery—and people will still buy it. That’s because it’s not about the product. If you run a grocery store, you’re not just selling stuff. You’re selling a buying experience. Is there a good selection to choose from? Was the pricing easy to figure out? Was the checkout process smooth? Was there help available when someone needed it? Did people feel welcome in your store? Did people feel like they were getting good value?
None of these experience related KPIs are discernable from the traditional metrics with their focus on products, on shelf space and basket size—on what shoppers put into their baskets—even though the real end product is the process itself, the experience.
Let’s take another example.
Say you are a software company selling the next big application. Your product team is probably measured on how fast the product was delivered, the number of bugs, whether the software organization is agile, etc. I’d argue that all of these traditional metrics are not as important as you might think—or at least not as important as they once were.
You should instead be thinking about the experience your software product provides. What is the experience like using the product? Does the product solve the problem as simply as possible? Does the product make its users productive? Does it make them feel empowered? Do the users feel happy while using the product? Would they like to experience your product again? Does the product deliver value?
If you agree with my perspective, then it’s time to rethink those legacy metrics—they apply to products, not to experiences. Start focusing on measuring the experience and improving it. How much time do your online customers spend getting help with using your products? Is the service experience a good one? And does it result in a good experience with your product? Consistently?
If you happen to be a customer experience or a customer service manager, check out KANA’s solutions. We can help improve the agent experience and the customer experience, and help your brand deliver a good experience.
(Vikas Nehru is VP, Product Marketing, KANA)