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Achieving Predictable Revenue in an Unpredictable World With Effective Product Experiences

By Tori Jeffcoat, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Gainsight. 

Life used to be predictable. 

Take TV, for example. For decades, popular shows like The Simpsons and Law & Order delivered a new season of episodes every year. But these days, your favorite new Netflix series might get canceled after a single season—1899, I’m looking at you! 

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The world of SaaS has similarly been turned upside down. Gone are the days when growth at any cost was the most reliable road to success. Simply enlarging your customer base year over year is no longer a viable business model. Now, companies that want to survive—and thrive—are focused on maximizing revenue from their existing customer base.

Drive Net Revenue Retention With Product Experience

In this new economic environment, successful tech businesses are leveraging product experience (PX) to drive durable growth in their digital offerings.

These companies are delivering more value to customers, and they are being rewarded with increased adoption, expansion, and most importantly, Net Revenue Retention (NRR). Here at Gainsight, we have seen the results firsthand, as many of our customers have pivoted their product focus to a more customer-centric model.

We also know that many companies are still waiting to take the next step.

There are lots of reasons for that. Resources are stretched thin, and everyone is juggling lots of priorities. We get it. 

But the thing is, there’s no time to wait. That’s because the longer you take to get proactive about customer needs, the more likely it is that they will churn. 

Another way to think about it is that your customers use your product every day. That means every day is a new opportunity to give them a fantastic experience. And every day you don’t is a wasted opportunity. 

Improving your customer’s product experience in real time requires agility, but it doesn’t require complexity. As a matter of fact, simplicity is your secret weapon. 

Adhering to the following principles is a good place to start:

  • Keep it simple. A good product experience is a simple product experience. 
  • Rely on data. Product experience starts and ends with facts, not speculation.
  • Iterate early and often. The market is constantly evolving, so you don’t need to worry about getting the product experience “right” the first time.

So be smart, stay simple, and don’t be afraid to pivot on a dime. But what does that look like in practice? How can Product and Customer Success teams actually improve the product experience?

Deploying In-product Communications to Guide the User Experience

Guides, knowledge centers, and surveys are well-known and widely used tools to help customers learn and succeed with a product. The challenge is that too often, these tools exist in a vacuum, disconnected from the customer experience. 

The truth is that when customers are not actively using a product, they probably are not thinking about a product, and they are much less likely to engage with product-related content.

The best time to engage with customers is while they are actually in the product itself. That’s when they are going to be most receptive to instructions, advice, and announcements. It’s also when they are most likely to give meaningful feedback. 

But engaging customers in-product is only the first step. You also need to ensure that whatever engagements pop up fit seamlessly and meaningfully into the product experience. After all, there is no point in ruining the product experience with the very tactics that were intended to improve it. 

In general, engagements should be concise, precise, and timely. To accomplish that, we advise that you start with the principles we talked about above. But we also want to share some specific best practices that we discovered during our research.

In-product Guides

According to our research, in-product guides up to five steps resulted in >30% completion rates. 2–3 steps are optimal. 1-step guides had a completion rate of 75%.

In-app guides can be used to give instructions, inform users of support issues, capture sentiment, announce new features, and much more. But what is the best way to keep them short and sweet?

While in-app guides should cover key moments in the customer journey, they don’t need to cover every moment. Some features are obvious enough to users that they will naturally use them without prompting. You don’t want to spam your users. 

Throttling – or limiting – the frequency and amount of engagements can help make sure users are not overwhelmed. Throttling settings impose strict controls over how many guides a user can view during a single session and/or over a certain time period (for example, 5 days).

In-app Knowledge Centers

Our research found that guides launched from in-app knowledge center bots with up to 5 steps had a >50% completion rate. The completion rate was >30% with up to 8 steps.

A knowledge base or knowledge center bot is an in-product assistant that guides users to learn a product via embedded checklists, articles, and linked in-app guides. This quick, self-service content helps users overcome obstacles and makes it more likely they will complete desired actions in the product. 

The key word here is “quick.” Users like self-service because they don’t want to wait for Customer Support when they are stuck. By the same token, they don’t want to go down a knowledge center rabbit hole when they just need a quick solve. 

Because knowledge center guides are self-service, they can be slightly longer than normal in-product guides. Knowledge center engagements are perfect for tasks like onboarding, as they are highly effective for educating users on complex features.

One way to deliver compelling self-service value from a knowledge center bot is to fill it with embedded video content. Video is highly recommended because it helps users quickly grasp concepts and functionality.


While NPS surveys are heavily used, Boolean and CES Rating Surveys achieved close to 40% response rates, compared to 25% for NPS. 

In-product customer surveys are an effective way to get insights into customer opinions and sentiment about a product. Deploying surveys in-product can greatly increase survey response rates, giving you a more trustworthy picture of real sentiment from a wider, and thus more accurate, sample size.

Among our customers, we have seen survey response rates increase exponentially when they are moved in product. For example, Dealerware increased their responses by 2700%, while ReviewPro increased theirs by 3900%.

Defining a clear goal that keeps a survey precise can help with completion rates. Too often, longer surveys are essentially a fishing expedition because the company is not sure of what information they are trying to obtain. To help streamline your surveys, ask yourself the following questions when creating a survey:

  • Who is the survey targeting? Usage data can help you identify the appropriate group of users and create specific questions for them.
  • What features am I interested in? Timing a survey around a specific action—without disrupting user workflows—will help you hone your questions.
  • Do the survey questions make sense as a group? Conditional survey branching allows you to skip unrelated questions based on previous answers, so users are only presented with highly relevant questions for a better experience.

Delivering an Effective Product Experience

In uncertain economic times, effective product experiences have become the North Star for companies in search of revenue stability and scalable growth. Reorienting your digital product experience around the needs of a customer doesn’t have to be complicated, but a roadmap can help any business get started.

To learn more about Gainsight’s research insights into this topic, you can check out our latest ebook, Best Practices for Effective Product Experiences.