How Product Improvement Can Help You Compete

Discover how product improvement can help you stay ahead of the competition and improve your bottom line.

product managers checking a metal product for improvement

What is Product Improvement?

Product improvement is making changes to a product to make it more effective or efficient. It can involve changing a product’s design, materials, manufacturing process, or packaging. This process usually aims to increase sales by making the product more appealing to consumers. However, it can also be done in response to customer feedback or to address safety or quality concerns.

Product improvement is essential for any business that manufactures or sells physical products. By constantly striving to improve their products, companies can stay ahead of the competition and keep their customers happy.

Why Improve Products?

There are many potential benefits of improving a product, some of them include the following:

  • Outperform competitors in the business
  • Gain possible cost savings for the goods
  • Make use of more environmentally-friendly materials
  • Offer variety as a competitive advantage
  • Spark new interest in the product
  • Increase market share
  • Attract new customers
  • Increase corporate earnings
  • Help in ensuring the survival of the business
  • Boost interest in the product from major distributors and retailers
  • Adapt to fresh user demands
  • Utilize innovative materials and technologies
  • Energize the brand

How to Make Product Improvements

There are two ways how you can make product improvements.

Adding New Features

Adding new features is one way to improve an existing product. It usually makes a big marketing splash and gets attention from the press, which can result in attracting new customers and discovering new ways the product can be used. It is typically the only improvement they ever hear about for people who don’t use your product (i.e., non-customers). Remember that adding new features is unpredictable; you must trust that your audience will appreciate them.

Tips for Improving a Product With a New Feature

Consider the tips below when planning on adding a new feature:

1. Find Out What is Bothering Your Current Customers

Customers are the best source of ideas for new features. They’re the ones who use your product every day, and they know what annoys them or what could make their life easier. You can find out their thoughts by conducting customer surveys, interviews, or focus groups.

2. Find Where Your Current Product Falls Short

Another way to develop new features is to examine your product and find where it falls short closely. It could be in design, functionality, quality, or anything else. Once you’ve identified a problem area, you can brainstorm ways to improve it.

3. Check Ideas Before Putting Them Into Action

Validate your ideas before committing your time and money to product development. One way to do this is to create prototype versions of the new features and test them out with a small group of customers. It’ll give you valuable feedback on whether or not the feature is worth developing further.

4. Introduce New Features and Help People Find Them

Once you’ve developed a new feature, you must ensure your customers know about it. You can do this by updating your website and social media channels, sending out email newsletters, or running ads. You should also make it easy for people to find the new feature by adding it to your product’s homepage or creating a tutorial.

5. Keep a Record of All the Changes

Document every change you make to your product, no matter how small. It will help you track your progress and see what’s working and what’s not. You can utilize a spreadsheet or project management tool or keep a written log.

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Improving Existing Features

Another way to improve your product is by making changes to existing features. It could be anything from tweaking the design to enhancing functionality. The goal is to make the product easier to use, more efficient, or better quality. These improvements are often made in response to customer feedback or as part of a larger product update. There are three ways that you can improve existing features.

  • Deliberate Improvements – Your customers all use and enjoy a particular feature, so you see an opportunity to improve it.
  • Frequency Improvements – Adding extra functionality to a feature that provides potential advantages opens the door for more frequent usage (for example, more segmentation choices when creating user segments).
  • Adoption Improvements – You notice that many of your users have yet to adopt an essential feature, and you see some tweaks or changes that will make it simpler for them to do so.

Tips for Improving the Existing Features of Your Product

Consider the tips below when planning on improving an existing feature:

1. Conduct Surveys to Get Feedback From Customers

Talk to your customers to learn how they use a feature and what improvements they want to see. The best way to collect this type of feedback is through customer surveys.

2. Analyze Where You Can Improve

Analyze the data gathered from the feedback you’ve collected to see where you can make improvements. It could be in terms of design, functionality, or quality.

3. Use Tooltips to Tell People About the New Feature

Make use of in-app announcements to inform your users about new features and updates, encouraging them to use all your app has to offer fully.

4. A/B Test Different In-app Messages to Increase Engagement

Use A/B testing to try out other in-app messages and see which ones are the most effective at getting people to use a new feature.

5. Track Engagement and Use of Features

Use analytics tools to track how often people use a feature and how long they spend using it. You can use this data to identify areas for improvement.

Adding new features or improving an existing one can tremendously increase user engagement with your product. But remember that you’re not only limited to performing any of the two ways, as you can do both at the same time. Consider your options and what would work best for you and your product.

Why and How Should You Use Continuous Product Improvement?

Growing companies are always looking to attract new clients and make more money from their existing ones. They also want to create a community of fans around their brand. To do this, they keep improving their products. Each change or addition (iteration) allows them to address different business needs. So, introducing one new feature allows for many other improvements down the road.

One approach that can help companies in their continuous product improvement is a Lean technology called Kaizen. It comes from the Japanese words “kai” (change) and “zen” (good). Kaizen emphasizes that even minor improvements can have significant effects on processes.
Kaizen suggests that there are three main ways to improve processes:

  1. by doing things right the first time (prevention);
  2. by detecting and correcting errors as soon as possible (detection); and
  3. by constantly looking for ways to improve (continuous improvement).

A company that is always striving to improve can never go wrong. There’s always room for improvement, and if a company ever reached the point where there was nothing else to change, it would more likely be a sign of stagnation rather than success.

FAQs About Product Improvement

Companies grow when they offer something new that people want. If a company does not have anything new to offer, it will not last. If the company is not offering more than it did before, then it is losing customers to its competitors. Product improvement can translate into improved quality, less waste, and simplified work processes.

Everywhere we look, we see examples of product improvements. In the food industry, companies constantly develop new products or improve existing ones. For instance, a company might create a unique ice cream flavor or a new packaging type. Companies always try to improve fuel efficiency or make new safety features in the automotive industry.

Product development is the process of creating new products. Product improvement, on the other hand, is the process of making changes to existing products. The goal of product development is to create something new that people want. The purpose of product improvement is to make a current product better.

There are many ways a company can improve its product. It can make changes to the design, functionality, or packaging. It can also add new features or make improvements to existing ones. If a company is unsure how to improve its product, it can always ask its customers for suggestions.

Rob Paredes
Article by

Rob Paredes

SafetyCulture Content Contributor
Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. Before joining SafetyCulture, he worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade. Rob's diverse professional background allows him to provide well-rounded, engaging content that can help businesses transform the way they work.