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Everyone’s been there: After a long day of work, running errands, and keeping up with life’s obligations, you’re exhausted. And famished. 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 in under an hour.
In this instance, the convenience of having your food delivered is just as important as the taste and quality of the food itself. This same principle applies to more than just food delivery. At the heart of any product or service lies the most important piece: the experience.
Delivering on experience, not just product
As a kid, I worked at my family’s pizza shop on the weekends. While putting toppings on a pizza one day, my father said something that has stuck with me: “It’s not that we’re delivering pizza, even though that may be the physical thing that we’re bringing. What we’re doing is delivering an experience and delivering convenience for somebody.”
Startups should take note. In the world of B2B software especially, there’s often an over-emphasis on creating a product versus an experience. Most technology companies are so hyper-focused on functionality that experience falls by the wayside. Thankfully, there’s been a recent trend of B2B software companies adopting some of the customer experience (CX) best practices we’d normally associate with B2C brands.
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When it comes to SaaS (or anything, really) your product isn’t everything — it’s just one leg of the stool. Experience is comprehensive, and companies need to be thinking about everything through the lens of the user. Every connection point must 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 it, install it and start using it without the need to talk to a salesperson, or if that’s technically not possible, be able to learn more in a delightful way.
But this isn’t always the case with SaaS. Generally speaking, different parts of the user experience are broken into silos, which makes for a disjointed experience. For example, a user might fall in love with a product while they’re trialing it, but then have a less-than-pleasant time once they’re using it regularly. These negative outcomes are par for the course when each experience is owned by a different team within the business, teams that care about different things.
Building cohesive and exceptional experiences requires a change in mindset. Instead of churning out shiny new features, your top priority should be to build empathy for users by gaining a deep understanding of their workflow and pain points. Simply adding a CX team to accomplish this isn’t enough. Empathy needs to be woven into every part of the business and creating delightful experiences should be everyone’s MO, not just the CX teams’. This ensures a smooth user experience from start to finish and creates alignment across teams.
KYP: Know your problem
Experience is critical, but another piece of the puzzle is determining what problem you’re actually trying to solve with your product. It sounds like a no-brainer, but all too often companies become so wrapped up in what’s happening in the larger market, or get so overly focused on new technologies, that they end up missing the bigger picture. An example of this is many companies’ seeming obsession with automating things using artificial intelligence and machine learning to do more. But what if it’s not actually about doing more?
Think about it through the “jobs to be done” framework: Any time someone purchases a product, they’re doing so in order to solve a problem, i.e. to get a job done. Per the example above, is automation really the “job to be done?”
At a pizza shop, the job to be done is more than just filling people’s stomachs — it’s about solving for convenience. At startups, the job to be done is helping people do their jobs better and faster, creating delight, and making users happy along the way. From a product standpoint, this requires taking a step back to truly understand the problem that your offering is addressing. Is it even worth solving? Will your solution add value? What’s the change your users will experience?
Most companies would argue that they’re already doing this, but there’s not enough emphasis on tackling the “job to be done.” Too often, product design teams don’t even have the opportunity to build empathy with the users who rely on their products. Instead, they design their offerings based on the company’s set strategy and research without a full understanding of what their users are trying to achieve.
CX trends from the service industry will only continue to influence B2B software as the importance of leading with experience becomes even more critical for success. As consumers, we expect any product we purchase to be easy and delightful to use. Why should SaaS be any different? By fostering user empathy and zeroing in on the “job to be done,” companies can start building better experiences.
Pouyan Salehi is CEO and cofounder of Scratchpad