Why Every Person at Your Company is a Product Person

by Kyle Wong May 1, 2016
May 1, 2016

Similar to most SaaS businesses, our company used to be broken up into two factions: the Business team and the Product team. It remained that way until I had a conversation with Brenda Van Camp, CMO-turned-entrepreneur, who shared her observation that many young companies (especially in Silicon Valley) have a myopic focus on their product but fail to build a larger brand. What this helped me to understand is that perception is a part of the product.

It was then that we decided we needed to re-define what it means to be on the Pixlee Product team. The goal of any business is to add value for its customers, to make their lives a little bit better or a little bit easier. But your product isn’t just defined as the final output—an app, a piece of merchandise, or a backend platform. Your product is the sum of every experience and touch point that a customer has with your company. As a result, “every person at our company is a product person.”

On one hand, clients expect that the Pixlee backend dashboard works well and that they are easily able to display customer photos on their marketing channels. But that’s only a small part of our product and overall customer experience. Clients also expect responsive follow-up from our sales team, helpful onboarding and assistance from our customer success team, useful educational materials and email notifications from our marketing team, and timely and succinct invoices from our operations team. For example, the quality of our product would be degraded if clients regularly received outdated educational materials on how to use the platform—regardless of how well our actual platform functions. It is these interactions and experiences as a whole that encompass the Pixlee product.

For consumer brands, companies can cast an even wider net to define their products. The product of a luxury handbag brand, for example, is not only the customer experience and the material bag itself, but also the community and prestige that the bag offers the buyer post-purchase. When selling this handbag, the brand will need to showcase the entire experience of owning one of their luxury products, and not just market and sell with the tangible product itself. If the customer experience suffers, as it might if an order’s shipping is delayed, the perception of your product will also suffer.

To boil it down, customers are not making purchasing decisions solely based on product superiority, but the entire customer experience. That experience impacts the brand, and ultimately the perception of the quality your product. So much so, that I consider the Business team as a part of the Product team. To deliver a better customer experience, our company couldn’t operate in silos. It requires departments to work together and to take pride in the complete product that we deliver.

A great product is consistent, and consistency is a team effort.

This piece was originally published on Forbes.

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