How To Make Product Improvements in SaaS? [Strategies + Examples]
Are you a product manager looking to add enhancements to your existing product and improve engagement? But what is a product improvement?
Is it a new feature? A bug fix? Something else?
There will always be changes, updates, and improvements that need to be implemented to improve user experience and keep products competitive.
This is a continuous journey.
If you’re wondering where to start, this article is exactly what you need.
We’ll cover some strategies that will drive product stickiness through continuous improvement based on user feedback.
So let’s get started.
- Product improvement is adding changes to a product to get new customers, retain active users, and recapture lost customers.
- SaaS businesses can leverage product improvements to meet customer needs, outperform competitors, improve customer experience, increase profits, and create customer loyalty.
- There are two common ways of improving products: adding new features and improving existing ones.
- To successfully add new product features, you need to engage with your customers to understand their needs, find gaps in your current product, validate ideas before development, send feature announcements to your users, and frequently update the changelog.
- There are three ways to improve an existing feature:
- Deliberate improvements: when you see an opportunity to enhance existing features customers already love.
- Frequency improvements: when you try to increase the usage frequency of a feature with an improvement
- Adoption improvements: when you want more users to adopt a feature but you need to add an enhancement to it first
- To enhance existing features, you need to use microsurveys to collect feedback, analyze insights, use in-app announcements to promote feature updates, and do A/B tests to see what’s working better towards your goals, then track engagement and results.
- Have you launched or planning to launch new product improvements? Userpilot can help. Get a demo and see how you can collect feedback in-app, analyze it, and also communicate with your users about what is new in your product using tooltips, modals, banners, and more.
What is a product improvement?
Product improvement is the process of making small or significant product changes to get new customers, retain existing users and recapture lost customers.
There are two common ways of improving products: adding new product features and improving existing ones.
What are the benefits of product improvements?
Here are some of the benefits of product improvements for businesses in the SaaS industry:
- Meet customer needs: add more value to existing customers with new features
- Improve customer experience: improve usability and experience with bug fixes
- Increase customer lifetime value: getting repeated value drives product stickiness and retention
- Create customer loyalty and drive word of mouth: loyal customers will always recommend your product and bring in new business
What are the types of product improvement?
So you’ve got the definition and benefit of product improvements. Now, it’s time to look at how to improve your product. There are two most common ways to improve products and things you should be aware of before starting.
- Add new product features
- Improve existing features
Add new features
Adding new features to existing products can backfire if done wrong.
You spend a bunch of time and resources building frameworks, planning roadmaps, designing the new feature, marketing the improvement everywhere – and then the customers hate it.
Your users don’t understand the new feature, they don’t find the value in it, or they don’t even discover it. Not ideal, but all these are good case scenarios as you can fix them.
Worst case scenario? Your new feature has a negative impact on your user’s experience and users become frustrated and some, even churn.
So how do you create new features without risking your business?
Improve existing features
Improving existing features is great but it can be quite risky too. If there’s an aspect of your product that your users love and you change the way it looks or works, you can disrupt your entire user experience.
However, if you can take a part of your product that wasn’t performing well and revamp it, it can pose a great method of adding more value to your product.
Not only can you re-engage existing customers this way, but it can also be a great way to generate new users by showing that you’ve added value to your product.
5 tips to achieve product improvement with a new feature
So you’ve decided to introduce a new feature to your business, here are five tips to achieve product improvements with your new feature.
Identify existing customers’ pain points
What problems are you trying to solve with the new feature?
Customer pain points are diverse and can be grouped into categories: financial, related to the functionality of the product, the buying process, or support.
The best way to identify them is by speaking to your users.
You can do this using micro surveys (like the one below) and directly collect feedback. An NPS survey can help you gauge user sentiment and also help you understand what’s keeping users happy (or not) by analyzing open-ended question responses.
Asking a direct question like ”Missing a feature” can be tricky as users don’t really know what they need.
So always take feature requests with a grain of salt and pair them with other insights to really understand what users need, not only what they want.
Find gaps in your current product
To improve on a product, you need to find certain parts of the product that need improvement.
What is your product’s main functionality? What does it help the user achieve?
Is there a quicker, easier way the user can achieve the same job without using your product?
These are the questions you should continuously ask yourself so you can understand if there are any gaps in your product.
How can you do this?
It comes back to asking your users. Conduct user interviews and usability testing to understand where your product is falling short.
Validate ideas before development
Before you commit your time and money to product development, it’s important to validate all your product improvements.
There are multiple ways you can do this. You can start building a prototype and then collect customer insights from a small group of users testing it.
Or, use a fake door test and see how many users get excited about the specific new feature. Testing with fake doors is a method for assessing demand for a product before investing in its development.
It starts with teasing users with the new features (even if it’s not live yet). For example, this is how Asana could have tested the Goals features before building it. Add it to the UI and tell users it’s new.
Then track how many users try to engage with it. Don’t forget to let them know this is not live yet.
Ensure that your testing segments are as small as possible to minimize the impact of user frustration. You risk damaging your credibility and creating disgruntled and disappointed users if you use fake door tests carelessly.
Transparency and honesty are the best ways to maintain your users’ trust. Show users the potential value of the new features/products, and engage them in the development process (for example, by getting them to participate in beta testing).
Your website or in-app messaging system can be used to conduct a fake door test for potential customers or existing users.
Announce new features and drive discovery
It’s not enough to launch a new feature and expect your users to be able to use it right away.
Or even discover it on their own.
New features should be introduced to your users regardless of where they are in their user journey.
By using in-app announcements you can inform users about new product improvements and show them how to make the most of new features. Moreover, in-app announcements can increase user engagement and adoption.
If it’s a new feature (or a big improvement), try using a modal and invite users to learn more about it.
Keep an updated changelog
Always keep your customers in the loop about the changes rolling out in the new update. This is an important task in the development life cycle as it keeps customers engaged and brings transparency to the whole process.
You can also use a modal to announce what’s new, but make sure all the changes can be accessed separately so users can go back to them when they want.
5 tips to improve the existing features of your product
There are three different ways to improve an existing feature:
- Deliberate (intentional) improvements – All of your customers like and use a particular feature, and you see an opportunity to enhance it.
- Frequency improvement – There is an opportunity to increase the frequency usage of a feature when you add more functionality to it that will deliver potential benefits (for example, more segmentation options when building user segments).
- Adoption improvement – It’s no secret that a good portion of your users have yet to adopt an important feature, and you see some obvious integrations or tweaks that will make it easier for them to do so.
Now we know the three different ways to improve an existing feature. But how do you know what parts of your current features you should improve?
Let’s look at five tips for product improvements with existing features.
Use micro surveys to collect customer feedback
Engage with your customers to find out how they are currently using a feature and what improvements they will like to see. You can use micro surveys to collect user feedback to point you in the right direction.
Using micro surveys you can collect more granular feedback in a contextual way compared to long-form surveys sent via email.
Segment your users (to only target relevant ones) and trigger feature surveys to understand what they like and dislike about parts of your product.
Analyze the areas of improvement and act on it
You can’t work on every feature of your product. The best thing to do is decide on which to work on first.
The best way to do this is to analyze the data from the feedback you got from your customers and uncover patterns that are causing friction.
If more people are complaining about a certain functionality, then you should consider improving on that first. Use the open-ended responses in your surveys and tag common themes.
Once you have a list of potential improvements you can use different scoring methods to prioritize them based on the impact they will have on the user and the business.
Use tooltips to promote the feature update
Once you’ve launched the feature enhancement, you need to let your users know.
You can use in-app announcements to promote the feature updates to your users and increase feature adoption.
Since this is probably a smaller announcement compared to launching an entirely new feature, you could use in-app tooltips that are less intrusive than modals that cover most of the screen.
Tooltips will get the job done without causing frustration. Just imagine releasing five new feature enhancements at a time and announcing them using modals.
You want to avoid cluttering the UI but also keep users informed.
A/B test different in-app messaging to increase engagement
A tooltip can work great. But it can also be missed, or, worse case, end up frustrating users when you pop it in their face every time they use the feature.
Always be testing different in-app messages and formats.
Maybe a banner will drive more engagement and adoption of the feature after you’ve launched the enhancement. Or maybe a short video inside the tooltip will work better than just text.
These are just a few things you can consider testing.
What’s important is to set the goal (where you trying to drive adoption?) and then test multiple in-app messages and types to see which drives the best results.
Track engagement and feature adoption
So you’ve launched the product improvement and you’ve got some positive feedback from your customers. Now what?
It’s time to check how it’s doing!
Track user behavior and see what features they have interacted with the most.
The simplest way to do this is by using feature tagging. Without having to set up custom events, simply tagging any UI element you will be able to see who and how often engages with parts of your product.
Product improvement examples
Here are a few examples from different companies you can learn from as you improve your product.
Kommunicate’s product improvement example
Kommunicate is a customer support automation platform that allows you to build your own AI chatbot to qualify leads, schedule meetings, and support your customers 24/7.
Their customers couldn’t integrate their chatbots with Whatsapp, which was a big deal as many business owners use it to reach out and communicate with their customers. Introducing Whatsapp integration made it easier for their users to stay connected with their customers 24/7 and expand their reach.
They used in-app notifications to promote their product improvements.
Kommunicate’s product improvement is one to emulate because they identified the customer’s pain point, promoted the new launch with in-app notifications, and guided the users on activating the new integration.
Postfity’s product improvement example
Postfity is a social media scheduler that allows you to plan and publish posts to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, GMB, and Vkontakte.
However, users couldn’t publish posts to Instagram directly from the desktop app without using the mobile app. This issue needed to be solved because it was too complex for the customers:
“If I need to download a mobile app before I can schedule a post on Instagram, why not use Instagram directly and ditch your product?”
Postfity took this issue into account and added a new feature that allowed customers to schedule Instagram posts directly from the desktop app, making the customers’ lives easier.
They didn’t wait for customers to discover this feature themselves; they used a well-timed in-app notification to announce the new feature and drive feature adoption.
Asana’s product improvement example
On Asana’s forum, customers complained about how slowly the software loaded.
As soon as they heard the feedback from their users, they began to make product improvements. They quickly improved on their current product and made it faster for users.
This shows that you can enhance a product by making it better and responding to users’ complaints.
As a SaaS company, your product is never perfect; there will always be something to improve or update.
However, by listening and focusing on your customers, you will make valuable improvements that’ll benefit your users and improve user experience.
If you want to have better insights into how your users behave inside the app, collect feedback contextually, and reach out to your customers to improve engagement and boost customer success, get a Userpilot Demo and get started right away.