Don’t build the perfect product - make your product customizable instead.
Your product needs to be able to grow, shift and accommodate to what users need over time. Part of your job as a product manager is to guide that change based on customer needs and your own resources and insight. But what if there was a quicker, easier way to build the option for customization into your SaaS product as a feature in and of itself?
When it comes to SaaS applications, as we have discussed previously, Webhooks are a significant first step to empower your users to build integrations with your product. But WebHooks stop being the best solution when you realize the burden shifts too far on to your customers.
SaaS providers are looking for ways to ease that burden. For Auth0 that meant building Extend, a platform that allows companies to quickly customize SaaS products.
Today we’ll cover why a platform like Extend can help you build a better product for your customers, your salespeople, and your support team.
Customizability for customers
You can build a good product; you can even build a great one. But you’re never going to be able to make something that will be perfect for every single customer right out of the box. Customers will always want a feature or integration that is not available.
When your customer can quickly modify your product with precisely what their marketing team needs, or build a feature that takes your product from good to perfect, they’re happier customers that stick around longer. And while you may not be able to produce that “perfect-for-them” product, you can empower them to build it themselves.
Slack is an excellent example; its core platform focused on communication but has come to include a variety of extensions that allow Slack’s customers to tweak the product for their needs. There’s an app library available, but it’s also pretty easy for customers to build their systems and solutions right on top of Slack with bots, buttons, and apps.
Slack’s eye towards integrations and product add-ons is a philosophy that has allowed its business not only to succeed, but to flourish. To keep the same type of focus means not just thinking about how you build your software, but also understanding how you can incorporate what your customers want as your product develops, and how you can make it easy for customers to build new functionality.
With Extend, for example, you’re allowing customers to build their perfect custom tool using your product. There’s no need for them to figure out servers or scalability or anything except for what they want to code and the logic they want to implement. They merely need to decide on functionality, write a bit of code, and they’re up and running on your platform.
“We saw an immediate difference in our time to value. What would take people hours with webhooks, custom apps or Zapier could now be prototyped within minutes. The built-in web editor is a definite plus.”
Logan Volkers, Chief Operating Squatch, Referral SaaSquatch
Superpowers for sales
When your product is built to be customized, sales become easier. When it comes to helping customers and potential customers get the most value possible out of your product, leaving features or add-ons on the table can break a deal. But when you can quickly customize your product, you can build what a customer needs without piling too much extra work on your (or their) plate.
When big customers come along, and they love everything about your product except they need one key feature, you can build it for them.
Salesforce, for example, is a platform that has survived in large part because the platform hosts a vast variety of apps and extensions. Having programmers build on top of its platform made it a more appealing and better solution than it would be otherwise, giving Salesforce continued relevance and longevity.
For example, Stripe has become a wildly popular payment processing service that was easily integrated into SalesForce by a third party. That integration app is available on the AppExchange for any SalesForce customer to use with minimal effort by SalesForce.
“Salesforce’s AppExchange was an early facilitator of app extensions for its platform that has continued to expand usability for the platform.”
Having an easily customizable platform can also be a significant factor in bringing new users to your product. If a lead is worried that she won’t be able to get what she needs out of your product, highlighting how easy it is to add extensions hosted directly in your product can flip her into the yes pile.
Transparency for support
It’s easier to diagnose and fix customer issues when you don’t have to troubleshoot outside of the product itself. If the only unknown is the customer’s code, then solving customer problems gets much quicker.
Adding new features quickly to your SaaS app allows you to streamline other parts of support, as well. When your customers come to you with product problems, you can offer custom solutions that fit their needs.
When you offer more customized support, you’re implicitly telling a customer that you understand their needs and are willing to go the extra mile to get them the most value out of your product.
Customization is no longer an option-it’s a requirement
The difference between you and the competition can be speed and effort - how quickly can you provide a customized solution and how much effort is required on the customer’s side?
As we consume more and more technology, data and software, the need for custom integrations and feature additions has ballooned. Integrating the capability for change as a core feature of your product gives you the flexibility to grow and change more efficiently. And let’s be honest, if you can help a customer create their perfect product, you should.