Building a product that fits right in the middle of the customers’ requirements and needs is important for the growth of any business. But that’s just the first step – Finding ways to innovate and improve your product is the real challenge.
The need to make product enhancements comes from the fact that market trends, technology, and customers’ behavior change with time. So, your products need to evolve for the better to improve user experiences and customer satisfaction.
Then, there’s the highly competitive market and agile environments. If you are not improving your product, someone else will make a new and improved product and take away your customers.
The real question is – How?
One cannot run riot to make changes on a wimp, or they can backfire. The decisions have to be backed by solid data.
In this blog, we will share insights about building a data-backed product improvement system in your business. We will discuss the frameworks for rapid product enhancements and tips for improving your product. We have also added tools to get you started on this journey.
So, let’s get going.
What Is Product Improvement?
Product improvement or enhancement is defined as the process of making changes to an existing product to optimize it further. The purpose of improving the product is to refine it, increase its value, improve user experience, and maintain competitive advantage.
It’s a strategic method to identify the areas of improvement, weed out bugs and issues, improve the aesthetics, and streamline different workflows.
So, you start by gathering data from the users or customers. The data can be sourced from various outlets, like:
- Surveys and feedback data
- Customer data from CRM
- Product analytics data
- Helpdesk tickets
- User transcripts
Then, it’s time to dig into these raw data sets to extract valuable insights and channel them into your product roadmap.
An essential part of the product improvement process is measuring the impact of the changes made. This can be done by monitoring the product’s performance and analyzing customer feedback.
When you have made and deployed the changes, use in-product surveys and feedback forms to gauge the user experience.
It would help you make informed decisions about which changes to retain or modify, ensuring their efforts yield positive results.
Types of Product Improvements
There are several product improvement types, each focusing on a specific aspect of the product.
This type of product improvement focuses on enhancing the product’s overall quality, durability, or reliability to provide a better user experience and longer lifecycle.
Who doesn’t want a product that lasts longer? So, the better the product quality higher is its advocacy and customer satisfaction.
Functional improvement means adding or improving features that enhance the product’s core functionality, making it more useful or multitasking for users.
Suppose a software company updates its word processing program to include advanced formatting options, real-time collaboration, and AI-powered grammar and style suggestions.
The product enhancements make it more versatile and efficient for users, leading to cost savings and productivity boosts.
This type of enhancement works on the product’s visual appeal, UI, and design to create a more attractive and desirable product.
The latest foldable smartphone concept is a primary example of aesthetic improvement. As this technology progresses, the upcoming mobile phones will be more compact and visually appealing.
Making changes to the product development process to minimize its environmental impact and align with the company’s sustainability goals is called sustainability improvement.
This type of product improvement keeps customers’ behavior and lifestyle in mind to build better products. For example, environmental-friendly products and EV vehicles reduce carbon footprints.
Importance of Product Improvement
Product enhancements play a vital role for several reasons, such as meeting customer expectations, staying competitive, increasing market share, and driving business growth. Here are a few examples to illustrate the importance of improving the product:
Customer Satisfaction & Retention
Continuously improving the product ensures they meet or exceeds customer expectations, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. For example, by regularly updating their Mac operating system and desktops with new features and improved performance, Apple has managed to maintain a loyal customer base that eagerly anticipates each new release. While other companies try to capture the market, Apple still stands out today.
Companies that continuously innovate and improve their products can distinguish themselves from competitors by offering a unique value proposition to their customers.
For example, Tesla consistently improves its electric vehicles by enhancing battery technology, increasing driving range, and offering advanced features like Autopilot. As a result, Tesla has positioned itself as a leader in the electric vehicle market with sales while other companies are trying to follow suit. Tesla EV sales stood higher than the combined sales of the following 15 companies for the third quarter of 2022.
Product improvements can help businesses reach new customers and penetrate new markets, driving growth and increasing market share. Netflix is a perfect example of adapting to changing customer trends and expectations to expand.
Netflix started as a DVD rental service offering a wider selection of movies and faster delivery times. Eventually, it expanded to the streaming platform, reaching millions of additional customers worldwide.
Amazon followed the same strategy but added new benefits for the users. It combined the Amazon Prime subscription with the Prime membership of the Amazon shopping app. This way, customers could reap both benefits from a single subscription.
Continuous product improvement can increase revenue, cost savings, and long-term profitability. Streamlining the product lifecycle process lets you reduce the development cost, design effective marketing strategies, and implement resources for seamless services.
Add new customers to the list who see value in your product offerings. You can see that the results trickle down as the cost savings along the entire conversion funnel leads to higher profitability.
7 Practical Strategies to Improve Your Product in 2023
Here are some tips and best practices to answer the question – How to improve an existing product to promote growth:
Start Right From the Development Stage
Product improvements and optimization don’t need to wait until you launch the product. You can piggyback the agile work environment to explore and implement product improvement ideas during the concept and development phases.
It would help to bring out an optimized product from the start that appeals to your target audience.
- Test your design prototypes and mockups. You can run usability tests like card sorting, five-second tests, etc., to test them.
- Send them to your internal teams or recruit dedicated participants.
- Optimize the informational architecture, navigation, and other UI/UX elements using the audio and video feedback from usability testing.
- Add surveys to the end of your tests to collect more in-depth participant insights. Tools like Qualaroo let you add surveys directly into your testing prototypes. It provides an opportunity to ask more contextual questions than open-ended comments.
Use the data from usability tests and surveys to refine the design before moving to the next stage.
The aim of improving the product at this stage is not to build the perfect product but weed out the user experience-breaking bugs and issues that can hinder the progress at later stages.
Collect Feedback at Every Stage of the Product Lifecycle
Continuing the previous point, agile environments and rapid development protocols have made it necessary to improve the product at every stage of your product lifecycle.
But usability tests are a time-taking process and require extensive resources and effort.
Don’t worry! There are simpler means to achieve product optimization – Surveys.
Once you are at the alpha and beta release stages, you can use embedded UX surveys to gauge customer feedback and make improvements to the product. This is a popular technique, especially in the gaming industry.
Most games are first released as beta versions for gamers to try. The users can sign up, play the game, and leave feedback. You can do the same with your product.
Here’s how to improve products using targeted product feedback:
- If you host a SaaS product, use a control group to explore the beta version and collect feedback using in-product surveys.
- Track the product analytics to track user sessions, bugs, glitches, and other technical issues with the product.
- If it’s a website or app, use in-app surveys and website forms to gauge user experience and ask for suggestions from real users.
Once you have released the product, it’s time to run the optimization processes. Once again, in-context surveys can come in handy for you.
You can create a close customer feedback loop to improve the product using targeted insights from actual users continuously.
That’s what Udemy does with its platform!
At Udemy, customer feedback is central to product innovation and marketing strategies. The company uses surveys to segment the audience and understand traffic sources on its website to allocate the market budget accordingly.
The process helped the team discover that many students outside English-speaking countries were also enrolling in courses taught in English.
Using this insight, the platform added the automatic captioning feature to its video courses.
It improved the app’s accessibility for users and helped Udemy reach students worldwide.
Validate Ideas Before Committing
When competing in a rapidly changing market, pushing ideas into production as soon as possible is important to keep improving the product.
But the challenge is to pick the right product improvement ideas to save the teams’ time and effort.
In a sea of ideas, how would you identify the ones that would actually make the experience better for customers?
So, explore the validity of your ideas by cross-referencing them with the customers’ expectations. Ask your users and customers what they want to see in your product.
- Which feature do you want us to build next?
- How can we improve the product further?
- Which feature would make the product indispensable for you?
Dig into the customer insights to get an idea about what they want. If you have large datasets, you can always employ advanced analytics techniques to make the process faster.
For example, product feedback tools like Qualaroo have an inbuilt AI-based sentiment analysis engine that categorizes the feedback based on user moods.
It also comes with a word cloud generator that can highlight the key phrases in your feedback to help you visualize the user consensus.
Now you have the user-approved data to work upon.
But the work doesn’t end here. There is still some sorting to do. You would get a ton of suggestions on ways to improve the product. But how would you choose from them and set the priority in your product roadmap?
There are two ways to go about it:
- Run a competitive analysis to determine and prioritize the popular features among your competitors.
- Segment the feedback based on users’ purchase value and lifetime value. See how many high-value customers ask for a specific feature, test its validity, and push it into the product improvement cycle.
Showcase Newly Added Features to Improve Adoption
There is no point in making product enhancements if the users remain oblivious to them. So showcase your hard work for everyone to see.
It serves two purposes:
- Shows the users that you value their feedback and work on improving the product.
- Allows you to collect feedback from the users on the newly added features.
There are plenty of ways to do so:
- Add in-product pop-ups to educate the users about the new features.
- Update the knowledge base when you release the feature to improve engagement. Users should have a reference guide to learn more about that feature.
- You can add the guide link next to the feature for quick access.
Youtube does the same. The platform gives Premium users a sneak peek of its new features and collects valuable insights in the process.
Guide Users Through a Product Update
This tip is helpful, especially if you plan to overhaul the product UI and architectural hierarchy.
The revamped product may be new and improved, but your users may need clarification. So, it’s better to guide them through the new interface.
That’s where tooltips and guided tours come in handy.
- Use a pop-up tool like Picreel to inform the customers about the product update. Add slides to it to notify about the nature and details of the update.
- Use information cards to guide the users through newly added or updated workflows. Attach a small survey at the end of the tour to ask about their opinions.
- Add tooltips to new settings and icons to display the necessary information to the users.
As always, keep the feedback loop running to keep improving the product.
Track Feature Adoption and Engagement Metrics
Major updates and product improvements can streamline the customer experience and satisfaction, but they can also bring in unanticipated issues, not just product bugs.
The new theme or UI may not agree with your users even if there are no issues with the UX.
That’s why vigilance is a must after the releasing a new product update.
Monitor the engagement stats for at least a week to catch any spikes in product issues. What’s more, add a small survey that asks the users how they feel about the new look and features.
Crowdsource Ideas and Run Competitive Analysis
Crowdsourcing ideas and suggestions is another great way to develop a new product and improve the existing one.
Idea boards and community forums work like a charm if you are trying to enter a new market or mold the product for the right product-market fit.
For example, tools like ProProfs Collaborate and UserVoice let you build a dedicated discussion forum to engage with your customer base.
Here’s how to crowdsource ideas for product enhancements:
- Create open or closed crowdsourcing boards for your online community where people can leave suggestions, ideas, comments, and unsolicited feedback.
- Pick up the most voted ideas and suggestions and pass them on to the development teams.
- Validate the ideas and push them into development to improve the product.
Case Study – How Salesforce Improves the product using its IdeaEXchange tool
Salesforce’s IdeaExchange tool is a community-based feedback forum to crowdsource product ideas and suggestions.
People post their suggestions and feedback about the Salesforce platform and which features they would like to see in the product. Other users can upvote and comment on the submitted ideas.
Then, the Salesforce team picks the most voted ideas for testing and implementation.
By engaging customers in its product development and optimization cycle, Salesforce can build a seamless product experience for its users.
4 Real-Life Examples of Product Improvement
Both marketing teams and continuous customer feedback fuel Apple’s product improvement cycle. The company runs NPS surveys to collect customer feedback from its buyers and channel them to improve the product.
One of the latest innovative features is Dynamic Island.’ It’s the answer to the criticism of the infamous notch on iPhones. The company used the feedback from the users to reimagine the notch as an immersive notification center. It’s not perfect, but kudos for developing a creative product enhancement.
The focus on delivering products that improve user experience is why Apple’s satisfaction ratings stand at 98%.
At Twilio – a leading communication company, customer feedback is used at every product lifecycle stage.
With so many ideas floating around, it becomes a challenge to identify the ones worth experimenting with and developing for product improvements.
So, the company uses customer insights as the guiding light to fish out worthwhile hypotheses. With the help of Qualaroo’s targeted surveys, the teams collect insights from customers.
It helps the over 18 teams at Twilio go from opinion to data-backed ideas in minutes. They can map customers’ expectations and needs to design optimal solutions.
The feedback-led approach helps Twilio to work in agile environments and deliver new product updates weekly.
Youtube is a perfect product improvement example using targeted study and controlled release of new features.
The platform offers a taste of its new features to Premium users first. This way, the team can gauge the adoption and consensus of their paid users before releasing the features to the public.
It also provides a data pool to optimize the features before the official release.
But that’s not all. The company also recruits participants for incentivized studies to capture feedback and further channel the insights into improving the product.
Duolingo’s staff of 500 techies and linguistic experts are responsible for designing the easiest app experience for those who want to learn new languages. The platform leveraged beta testing and crowdsourcing to shape the mobile app initially.
But the team didn’t stop there. It used in-app data and customer feedback to build iterative UX designs for improving customer experience. The same reflects in the mobile app’s learning approach.
Clever copywriting and a level-based progression system make Duolingo an addictive platform for enthusiastic learners.
Plus, gamification options like XP points, crowns, daily streaks, community quests, and more help to keep the users engaged.
This product-led growth model has helped Duolingo to build a $700 million business model with over 50 million active users.
5 Tools to Get You Started With Product Improvement
Qualaroo (Feedback-Based Tool)
Qualaroo is an advanced product feedback tool to fuel your product improvement strategies. The software offers in-context surveys to collect user feedback across channels like the website, app, product, and email.
With pre-made survey templates, multi-lingual support, in-depth reporting, and an easy-to-use survey creator, Qualaroo is a must for UI/UX designers, marketers, or any other team.
It helps to get a complete picture of customers’ journey to identify the areas of improvement, issues, product bugs, and other customer concerns. You can also map customer expectations and preferences to improve your products and services.
An AI-based sentiment analysis engine also powers the tool to simplify data analysis. It can help you categorize the responses in real time to help you close the feedback loop quickly.
ProProfs Survey Maker (Survey Tool)
With ProProfs Survey Maker, you can collect product improvement feedback from users using pop-up surveys. The tool is suited if you host your prodict on multiple platforms like website, and app.
You can create custom presentation-ready reports to visualize the customer behavior on different channels and make the changes to improve the experience.
It helps to capture insights from users and gauge their satisfaction level with your product enhancements. Once you have the data, you can make adjustment to improve the product further.
SessionCam (Behavioral Analytics)
SessionCam is a user behavior analytics tool that can help you gain in-depth insights into how customers use your products. It offers heatmaps and session replays to capture interactions like clicks, scrolls, and form inputs.
You can visualize where users get stuck while navigating and use the data to improve the product. The custom reports can help you track key performance metrics like product adoption, usage, errors, etc., to gauge the effectiveness of your product changes.
Optimizely (A/B Test Product Enhancements)
Optimizely is a top experimentation platform to test your product’s improvement before you release it to the users. You can create A/B tests to test the original design with the improved versions and gauge its effectiveness.
The user-friendly interface and in-depth reporting can help you improve conversions and user engagement within your products. You can test different elements, UI designs, and workflow to optimize the product as per customers’ expectations.
UserVoice is a comprehensive customer feedback management platform to crowdsource ideas and improve the product. You can add a dedicated community board to prioritize feature requests, identify common issues, and make informed product decisions. The users can interact with the Ideaboard dashboard and leave feedback.
You can then assign it to the relevant team for continuous improvement. It also lets you add the status to various suggestions on the board so the users can track the progress of their feedback.
Innovate, Iterate, and Improve Your Products for Growth
Consistently improving your products is the key to outperforming the competition and promoting long-term growth.
With targeted strategies and tips mentioned in this blog, you can create a continuous product feedback loop at your end to deliver optimal solutions. It also helps you gauge how your product offering fits into the customers’ needs to design effective marketing campaigns.
So, start innovating today and make product improvements that enhance user experience and reach the true potential of your product offering.
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