November 10, 2019

Product Experience vs Customer Experience: Why B2B Technology is Different

Article

Imagine you have a great product. But the customer service team really isn’t delivering. Eventually, customers will begin to drop off, disgruntled and in search of an alternative product with superior customer service.

This is the traditional scenario companies have faced and continue to face in many sectors. Yet B2B technology strays from this trajectory because the customer experience is baked into the product and cannot be separated from it. 

A great B2B technology product is designed with the user in mind in ways physical goods are not. Everything from the interface to the technical documentation to the ease of contacting support is built into the platform. So if you have an amazing B2B product, it translates to superior customer experience.

So how do you make sure your B2B product offers a great customer experience? The answer lies in creating a smooth product experience.

Product Experience vs Customer Experience 

To understand the importance of product experience in B2B technology, let’s go over its distinguishing points when compared to its close relative, customer experience.

What is Product Experience?

In B2B technology, the product is the medium through which customers gain their impressions of the company overall. Whether it’s hardware or software, B2B customers interact with the same flagship product repeatedly over a long stretch of time, during which the product develops and expands further. 

New features may be introduced and existing features might need more exploring as customers get to know the product better. There are multiple layers and technological knowledge is key to understanding and using the technology. Guiding customers through the whole process of onboarding and ongoing support is an essential component of the entire product experience.

In short, product experience is the perception customers have of your product based on their engagement with the product.

How is it different from customer experience?

By contrast, customer experience (CX) describes the experience of interacting with the company overall. Forrester has come up with one of the simplest and most effective definitions of customer experience as follows: 

“How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”

This can be interactions with customer service personnel, exchanges with marketers over social media, and conversations with salespeople in-store, to name a few. Note that none of these examples need to take place within the product itself. 

You can think of product experience as a branch of the overall customer experience. For B2B technology, PX contributes significantly to the larger customer experience at hand because of the large amount of time the customer spends engaging with the product.

Customer Experience (CX): The overall impression customers have of the company based on their interactions across multiple touchpoints.

Product Experience (PX): The perception customers have of your product based on their engagement with the product.

Why Optimizing Product Experience is the Key to Positive Customer Experience 

The easiest way to deliver excellent customer experience is to offer a great product experience. Not only does that make the question of support tickets moot, it directly ties to satisfactory customer experience because product experience can create channels for anticipating their needs and personalizing the product.

Referrals, sales pitches, and word-of-mouth marketing may lead customers toward your product, but there’s nothing more definitive for ultimately winning them over than giving them personal first-hand experience with the product. 


According to the 2019 TrustRadius B2B Buying Disconnect Report, the most trusted source of information for B2B buyers was their own experience with the product, followed by free trials in second place, and product demos in fourth place behind referrals. Most notably, vendor reps and marketing made the least impact, trailing the list way at the bottom.

This suggests that customers are moving more and more away from vendor-produced marketing or even calls with sales reps to make their purchasing decisions. Rather, they rely on the merit of the product itself. 

So what does this mean for B2B vendors?

Product experience can make or break the customer journey and play a pivotal role in customer retention. 

Buyers are more informed now than ever. They have resources online to do their research and compare products. Ultimately, what is going to nudge them toward one product or another is their personal experience with the product itself.

With this knowledge, you can start to focus on improving product experience as a key element of your growth strategy and improved customer experience.  

When introducing new features, measure the data to see how users engage with them. Be proactive in announcing upgrades and maintenance downtimes, as well as monitoring communications about bugs or other concerns users might have about certain aspects of the product. Seek out user feedback through surveys, calls, chat, or emails. All of these factors contribute to the overall product experience.

To go a step further, use your product’s AI or machine learning capabilities to optimize and personalize the product experience. From customizing emails to curating recommended content or products, personalization is an effective way of driving revenue and attracting customers. A Deloitte study found that 1 in 5 customers who want personalization are willing to pay a 20% premium for personalized products and 22% are even willing to share data to make it happen.


personalization statistics


Now that we know why product experience is so important for a seamless customer experience delivery, let’s examine how to apply it to your B2B technology as your company scales.

Product Experience Solutions Are Different From Customer Experience Platforms

The market is full of customer experience solutions like Zendesk. These software platforms operate as a database containing customer data to support customer service operations. Companies can receive and solve support tickets through the platform and use it to communicate more efficiently with customers.

This is particularly great for B2C companies but doesn’t solve customer experience needs for B2B technology vendors whose interactions are more complex than simply solving a single support ticket. For companies who wish to provide a well-rounded product experience, customer service platforms like Zendesk don’t do the job as they lack advanced capabilities that capture additional data.

Product experience solutions differ from customer experience platforms because they need to take into account every step of the customer journey. The data then needs to be shared not only with the product and engineering teams, but also with customer service, marketing, sales, and others who play a role in creating the customer experience.

Examples of the data captured by a PX platform could include anything from usage analytics and product feedback to sales pipeline stages and customer segmentation. Unlike customer experience solutions, PX platforms have to account for both customer history and their interactions with the product.

To Deliver a Satisfactory B2B Customer Experience, Look For a Quality Product Experience Solution

When it comes to creating an unparalleled B2B customer experience, traditional ways of thinking about customer experience can fall short. Due to the nature of B2B tech products, which involve multiple layers of product usage and ongoing support, as well as a significantly longer customer journey that includes onboarding and activation to product upgrades and tech support, product experience is not only important but ultimately takes center stage for B2B tech companies looking to grow and scale.

Rather than relying on customer experience solutions that are more well-suited for B2C products, B2B companies should seek out platforms that specifically contain product experience solutions for B2B companies.

To find a good product experience platform, look for the following features:

  • It allows customer feedback management as a vital component of continued product iteration.
  • It enables the product team to test new features and collect data on how customers interact with those additions as well as existing ones.
  • It comes with the capability to analyze the entire product journey, from sales and onboarding to ongoing support and renewal.

Good product experience solutions enable companies to offer stellar ongoing product support, whether in the form of service tickets or transparent communications about product upgrades. 

While customer experience platforms can deal with simpler customer support inquiries, product support often requires more sophisticated knowledge of the product itself and involves multiple parties’ ongoing involvement as B2B technology products aren’t static but ever-changing. Investing in product experience solutions is key to continued growth and customer retention as your technology evolves.

Boomtown is a product support platform that helps B2B companies scale their product. Schedule a demo to test it out firsthand.