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How 10 Years of Customer Feedback Has Influenced Okta's Products

Beth Wang
Group Product Manager

For any business that began life as a humble startup, each year is a big deal—but when you hit your 10 year anniversary, it’s pretty surreal. We’ve learned a lot in 10 years; much of it thanks to our customers who have been our intrepid companions on this journey. To me, one of the most important changes we’ve made is how we understand our customers’ needs. This evolution is reflected in the way we approach everything, from team structure to product design and beyond.

What we’ve learned is that, when it comes to our products, our users are our most valuable asset. We put our customers at the heart of everything we do and it’s this foundation that helps ensure we’re set up for success in years to come.

In honor of Okta’s 10-year anniversary earlier this month, here are a few ways we’ve evolved for, and with, our customers.

From reactive to proactive

In the past, we waited until customers told us that they wanted product changes or that their needs were evolving. This reactive approach to product development is common and not necessarily ineffective, but it can leave users waiting to have their needs met.

What a decade of listening actively to our customers has provided us with is the opportunity to build products for them in a more intentional, proactive way. We receive direct customer feedback by engaging with customers through interviews and their product requests. As a company we conduct regular surveys to understand what matters most to our users, and feedback related to product is used to help inform the product roadmap.

Rather than waiting for them to tell us what to change with our current product, we proactively engage users much earlier in the process to ensure new features meet both their current and future needs.

Collaborating for (and with) customers

Every new product we build at Okta embarks on its own unique journey, from idea to design, prototype to product release. We involve our customers in every step of the way.

Customer-centered solution design is a collaborative process that involves many Okta teams. Usually, it starts by meeting with and talking to customers. From those insights, the customer research team, which is part of our design organization, takes ideas from the product management team and tests different options with customers.

Then, the product management team builds a beta version of the new features with customer input always top of mind. While in beta, we return to the customers for input on the direction of the features, from the design to the ability to solve core use cases. Finally, after incorporating this feedback, we have a product ready for roll-out—one that has our customers’ priorities built into the functionality from the start.

Products that empower

Once beta feedback is incorporated into a product, we introduce the feature as Early Access to get the new feature in front of more customers. We want our customers to feel empowered to access what they need, so we recently introduced a self-service tool for Early Access features. This lets our customers turn on and off these features whenever they want to.

It’s been so exciting to watch the success of this program. Sixty-six percent of customers with access to a self-service feature have started using it on their own. It’s a fantastic reminder that we’re on the right path to better serving our customers.

But wait, there’s more

While it is thrilling to feel like we’re on the right path, it’s important to remind myself that we still have a long way to go. In an industry that’s characterized by change, we need to stay on top of what our customers need today, tomorrow, and ten years from now.

With that in mind, we’re constantly building and evolving our products. For example, customers asked that we give them more control over how they managed their administrators, so we’re in the process of introducing a new feature called Admin Role-to-Group Assignment. This provides the ability to assign an admin role to a group of users instead of to an individual. After incorporating beta feedback from customers, we opened it up as an Early Access self-service feature.

One of the most requested Ideas in the Help Center is for the ability to create custom admin roles. Over the past few years, we developed several delegated admin roles to provide more flexibility for our customers to manage access to the admin app. However, customer feedback has shown that different organizations have different expectations for what a delegated admin (such as a help desk admin) should have access to within the admin app. The ability to create custom admin roles is a feature I am excited to be actively developing, and hope to introduce as beta within the next six months.

Our customer-first methodology of responding to customer feedback and adapting Okta’s solution design has made a big impact on streamlining the customer experience. I’m so thrilled with our focus on implementing the top-voted Help Center ideas, including admin role-to-group assignments, deleting users, admin managed tabs and application notes for end users, and multi-factor authentication for admins.

These organizational and process changes at Okta have helped us emerge as a leader in identity and access management and have made our customer relationships even stronger. To me, the only thing more exciting than what we’ve accomplished in the last 10 years is what we’ll be able to do in the next ten—with the help of your feedback! Thank you to our customers for helping to evolve Okta’s products with us through the years.

Want to share your feedback and evolve our product? Share your ideas in the community here.

 
Beth Wang
Group Product Manager

Beth is a  Group Product Manager at Okta. Prior to her current role, Beth spent the previous four years on Okta’s Customer First Strategy & Operations team. Before joining Okta, Beth was a management consultant focused on modernizing large retailers. In her free time, Beth enjoys travelling, snowboarding and hiking.