Elsewhere, the distinction between a Product and an Offering is defined. The most succinct description of this distinction, defined from an Experience standpoint, is that Offerings are Engaged and Products are Used. There are no Offerings without Products, however, there are lots of Products that are mistakenly designed without considering how they contribute to an Offering. Offerings and Products are symbiotic, but they are far from identical.
To begin to clarify the distinction and relationships between Offerings and Products a more detailed description of the Product Use Experience is defined. Elsewhere, the Offering Engagement Experience will be defined and, later, the relationship between them will be discussed.
Product “Use” Experiences
Products are solely defined by their “Use” Experiences. The “Use” Experiences of any Product are defined, collectively, as the combination of (up to) seven types of Experiences: Preparing, Utilizing, Maintaining, Retiring, Customizing, Configuring, and/or Augmenting the Product as shown below.
Key Questions for the “Use” Experiences:
Each of the experiences that make up the entirety of the “Use” Experience of a Product are defined by answering one key question:
How does a User make the Product ready for first Utilization?
How does a User put the Product into practice?
How does a User keep the Product ready to Utilize?
How does a User remove the Product from practice?
How does a User modify the behavior of the Product?
How does a User change the internals of the Product?
How does a User integrate the behavior of the Product with something else?
Examples of “Use” Experiences
A Car Example
Users of a modern vehicle might experience: Preparing the vehicle for first Utilization by ensuring all fluids are topped off after factory shipment; Utilizing the vehicle by driving around town; Maintaining the vehicle by refilling the gas tank; Retiring the vehicle by removing all personal information in the OnStar service prior to selling the car; Configuring the vehicle’s radio presets, seat positions, and mirror positions; Augmenting the vehicle with the addition of an aftermarket trailer hitch; and Customizing the vehicle by replacing the core engine CPU with an aftermarket “Power Chip”.
A CRM SaaS Product Example
Users of a SaaS Product for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) might experience: Preparing the SaaS Product by entering prospect and customer records; Utilizing the SaaS Product by tracking and generating status reports on prospects and customers; Maintaining the SaaS Product by removing prospects who are no longer to be tracked; Retiring the SaaS Product by exporting all active prospects and customer records prior to decommissioning; Configuring the SaaS Product by redefining the default stages of prospect and customer progression to be tracked; Augmenting the SaaS Product by adding an automated data feed to a 3rd party tool; Customizing the SaaS Product by modifying the internal scoring module for when a prospect or customer should be contacted.
Discussion of some “Use” Experience Examples
Note that not all Products can, nor should, support all of the Use Experience types.
Retiring a Product is sometimes a complicated business decision. Making it easy to retire a Product may be in the best interest of the user, but it may not be in the best interest of the Product provider. Often Product providers explicitly avoid the creation of a Retiring experience under the presumption that the user will no longer be of interest. This may be short sighted as the decision will almost assuredly lead to aggravated users of this Product but who may also be Preparing to use another Product from the same provider or even the same portfolio.
Customizing is a particularly interesting “Use” experience. In the above examples, the Product producer of the vehicle may not intend for the Power Chip Customizing experience but it is, nevertheless enabled in the aftermarket by reverse engineering the signals, sequences, and timing of the core engine CPU that comes with the vehicle. In this example, the Customizing experience is manifest, however, it does not mean that it is a supported experience by the Product provider.
Generally, providing Customizing experiences for goods can be a sensible decision if there is little or no concern with respect to warranty claims. For instance, changing the timing on the aftermarket power chip may void the warranty. Providing Customizing experiences for services should only be made available if there is a way to isolate the resulting customization from the rest of the service tenants.
Another often optional experience is the Augmenting experience. Suppose that the CRM SaaS Product decided to only make their own AddOns to their base product. In this case, the Augmenting experience for the base Product would not exist since the eco-system is closed.