Minimum Viable Experience (MVE): What Product Managers Should Know
What is a Minimum Viable Experience (MVE)? Does it have anything to do with the Minimum Viable Product? Why would you care about MVE as a product manager?
If you’re after the answers to the questions, you’re up for a treat because that’s what we’re exploring in the article!
Got your seat belt on? Let’s get to it!
- Minimum Viable Experience (MVE) describes how your users must feel when they interact with your product to stay with the company and keep using the product.
- The MVE covers all user interactions with the product. A great sales process is as important in a good MVE as cutting-edge functionality.
- For customer retention, your product must satisfy user needs and deliver value. However, this isn’t enough. You still need to match it with an equally impressive MVE.
- By Minimum Viable Product (MVP), we mean one which has only enough functionality for the product to meet the minimum user requirements.
- Minimum viable features are the set of product characteristics that you need to develop to satisfy a user’s need.
- The development of the MVP and MVE should happen at the same time. Developing one is not possible without the other.
- Developing the MVE is not possible without good differentiation and positioning strategies either. To provide the right experience, you need to know what customers you are building it for.
- Minimum Viable Onboarding guides users to value in the most direct and quickest way with personalized in-app guidance. This enhances the MVE.
- Good customer support is a must ingredient of the minimum viable experience. It should consist of both personal white-glove onboarding and automated tech-touch in-app support.
- When building your MVE, make sure you are aware of different user groups and their unique needs. Look at how you can deliver value to each of them.
- To build the MVE, you have to deliver features that also delight users and not just the basics or the satisfiers.
- Each user segment needs different functionality at different stages of its journey. Use progressive onboarding to expose them to the most relevant features at the time when they need them.
- The metrics that can help you assess your MVE include time to value, customer effort score (CES), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and customer retention.
- Want to see how Userpilot can help you build and improve your MVE? Book the demo!
What is the minimum viable experience (MVE)?
Minimum Viable Experience (MVE) is the absolute minimum level of experience that your organization needs to provide to your customers to satisfy their expectations.
Apart from the product itself, the MVE consists of all the other customer interactions with your company. These include marketing messages, the sales process, and customer support.
Providing the MVE is a way to encourage customers to stay and re-engage with the product regularly.
Why is the MVE important in product management?
In short, minimum viable experience allows you to figure out what sort of experience you need to provide to satisfy their needs.
The majority of users reach for a particular product to complete their tasks. To be able to achieve them, they need a certain set of features. Hence, the functionality your product offers is crucial.
However, to retain customers, you need to offer them the right experience along their user journey.
If there’s a lot of friction in the customer experience, for example in the sign-up process, or the product has poor usability, making your customers stay is going to be a big ask.
What’s more, the quality of user experience may be the key differentiator that set your product apart from its rivals. While it’s easy to copy features, quality experience is so much more difficult to emulate, and this could be your chance to stand out from the crowd.
It starts with the Minimum viable product (MVP)
As a product manager, product owner, or project manager, you must have heard about the MPV – the Minimum Viable Product.
It is based on a simple principle. You provide a minimum level of service or functionality that allows you to launch the product. Next, you use the feedback to grow your product.
The idea of minimum functionality or service comes from the lean methodology. The principle is simple. Until you know that your product will get enough traction among your customers, there’s no point in spending money on its development.
That’s why, instead of developing a fully functional product that may turn out to be a flop, you invest the absolute minimum to develop basic functionality. This allows you to validate the idea and collect user feedback to inform future development.
What does minimum exactly mean?
This depends on your product and the market you’re in. New digital brands can often get away with very little as long as they capture the attention of potential customers.
If you’re an established brand, your users will have far greater expectations. At the same time, they will probably be more tolerant of initial glitches if you have a good track record of rectifying them.
While you’re trying to reduce the financial risk of developing your product, you still need to deliver some value to your customers. Otherwise, they won’t have a reason to engage with your product and you won’t get the necessary data to iterate on your initial offering.
Just like ‘minimum’, viability is a very subjective quality. Products in different sectors will need to tick different boxes for customers to see them as viable.
What are your minimum viable features?
Minimum viable features constitute the core of your product’s functionality.
There may not be many of them and they may not be fully developed yet, but they still need to satisfy a genuine user need.
To figure out what your minimum viable features are, you need to conduct robust market and customer research to identify those needs and assess how well other products satisfy them. This will vary from sector to sector, and from product to product.
Do you need an MVP or an MLP before focusing on the MVE?
Apart from the MVP, you may have also heard about the Minimum Lovable Product (MLP). The MLP is based on the same basic idea of developing a basic subset of features and launching it to the world. However, it takes it one step further.
Instead of providing the absolute bare minimum of functionality, the MLP focuses also on the user experience to establish long-term relationships with customers. You don’t only try to validate the idea, but also take care of the usability or accessibility.
The MLP is in a way an answer to the question of whether you must have the MVP out before you start working on MVE. These two should be developed in parallel. By working on the MLP, you also lay the foundation for the MVE, and the MVE allows you to realize the benefits of the MVP.
Core elements of an MVE
User experience is made up of all the user interactions with a particular brand. To provide MVE, you need to look at elements like UI design, branding, marketing or trials, or the purchase process.
Nail your brand’s minimum viable product and positioning
As already discussed, MVP and MVE development go hand in hand. You need to have a good idea of what needs you’re trying to meet and what functionality is going to achieve that.
Your minimum viable features need to be aligned with your differentiation and positioning strategies. This is necessary to identify your target customers and target market and figure out how you are going to compete against existing products.
Without these, you won’t be able to achieve the product-customer fit and attract the right crowd. Even if your MVE is solid, your product will most likely fail.
Focus on the minimum viable onboarding
Once you launch your MVP and start getting trial bookings, you must ensure that your users experience the product value as quickly as possible – and without unnecessary friction.
The catch is that in your race to ‘disrupt’ and ‘break things’, you may need to compromise on your product usability and design may not be as frictionless as you’d like.
How can you overcome that to deliver a great first-time user experience, get users to activate, and shorten the time to value?
Minimum viable onboarding is the answer. By designing interactive onboarding flows that guide your users through activation points, you help them experience the full value of the product.
Pair white-glove onboarding with automation and tech-touch in-app experience
Now that your users have experienced the value of your product first-hand, you need to make sure they stay.
First, make sure you have a solid support system in place. And simply providing a support email address won’t cut it, I’m afraid!
The most reliable way to support your customers and drive retention is through white-glove onboarding. By leading your users step-by-step, your customer service or sales team members ensure that they know how to use the product effectively.
The downside of such an approach is the cost. White-glove onboarding requires a lot of manpower and so is very difficult to scale.
Tech-touch customer guidance and self-service are viable alternatives to take the pressure off your teams.
Resource centers with video tutorials and guides and contextual in-app guidance highlighting the most relevant features to each user segment are often enough to remove the need for human interaction altogether. In fact, that’s how many users prefer to access help these days.
Of course, there will be situations when personal support is necessary, so combining the two approaches is the way to go.
Things to consider when building a minimum viable experience (MVE)
There are a few things your need to bear in mind when you start designing your MVE.
Not all users are the same
Understanding differences in user needs is one of them.
Unless you’re in a very niche market, your product is likely to serve more than one user group. Each of the segments will use the product differently because they have different problems to solve.
To solve the problems, you will need to provide different functionality – and different experiences.
So start by identifying the user needs and how to satisfy them.
Focus on all 3 customer experience success criteria
Do you remember the 3 categories of features in Kano analysis? The basics, the satisfiers, and the delighters?
To build the minimum viable experience, you just need to deliver the basics.
However, for the MVE, you will need to develop features from all three categories. It’s not enough to deliver only the mandatory features that make the product functional, and not even the expected ones, but also some delighters.
Delighters can come in the form of customer support or the extra things you do for users that end up delighting them.
Personalize and drive repeated value incrementally
The fact that you need to focus on the mandatory, expected, and delighter features from the get-go, doesn’t mean you need to show the all at once to your customers.
Exposing users to too many functions or features in the early stages of the user journey could be truly overwhelming and put off the user.
To encourage retention, you should instead present them with the most relevant personalized experience that will allow them to develop their proficiency using the product incrementally.
How can you do that?
Contextual in-app experiences like interactive walkthroughs or tooltips are one way. They can be very granular and delivered to the right users exactly when they need a bit of help.
The more confident the user gets, the more complex the functionality you help them discover. Or not! It should really depend on their needs. However, the key is that user onboarding is an ongoing process and it should never stop.
How to measure the minimum viable experience (MVE)?
User experience is made up of different mini-experiences and is affected by a number of factors. That’s why there’s no one metric that will allow you to measure how well your MVE is doing. Instead, you need to look at various metrics and both quantitative and qualitative data.
Time to value and the customer effort score
Time to value is how quickly the user can experience product value. Of course, the shorter it is, the better. If it takes users a lot of time to discover value, their experience simply can’t be satisfying enough.
Customer effort score (CES) is another relevant metric from the experience point of view. It’s an indication of how easy or difficult it is for a user to complete certain actions in the product. Again, the more difficult it is, the lower the quality of the user experience.
Net promoter score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of general user sentiment towards the product.
NPS surveys ask customers how likely they are to recommend a product, on a scale from 0 to 10. Those who choose 9 or 10, are called Promoters.
The number of promoters tells you how happy your customers feel with their experience.
While the NPS is a quantitative metric, you can leverage NPS surveys to collect more in-depth data by asking follow-up questions. The qualitative insights obtained that way can help you improve the customer experience.
Customer retention is another metric that helps product managers gauge customer satisfaction with the experience they receive.
The assumption is that the longer you retain the users, the more valued the experience is. Of course, retention is very much dependent on the functionality you offer. Even the best customer experience can be marred by a product that simply doesn’t do the job.
Minimum Viable Experience (MVE) describes how users should feel while engaging with the product. The MVE consists not only of user interactions with the product but also across the other touchpoints along their customer journey.
Curious how Userpilot can help you collect customer experience feedback and improve user experience with personalized in-app experiences? Book the demo!