Customer engagement is an all-encompassing term that stretches across teams and metrics. At a high level, customer engagement can be defined as the experience and touchpoints a customer has with your product and company—and making sure they return to have those experiences again.
And customer engagement is evolving. With so many opportunities to engage customers today, it can be hard to know which are the most effective.
Here’s our list of the 10 best customer engagement strategies for 2018, and how you can use them to totally delight your users.
1. All hands support
A lot of SaaS companies are implementing a new approach to customer support. They’re taking turns to make sure all employees—from developers to product managers—have a hand in supporting customers.
All hands on support drives growth in many SaaS companies. As these programs keep their entire team in touch with the personalities, pains, and wishes of their customers and free trial users.
Zapier says, "Effective all hands support focuses on making life better for your customers. But it can also cause a shift in how you and your team think about and build your company."
Better customer experience and a team-wide transformation? Sign us up!
To be clear, this doesn’t mean companies toss out their customer success department. Some companies—Wistia included—find it advantageous to have a full-time support team that ‘owns’ the process and use the broader the team to contribute on a regular schedule.
2. Measure product engagement with an analytics system
With analytics systems like these, you can get visibility into customer engagement by way of product usage. You can run reports and build dashboards on all kinds of metrics, like which features are being used by which personas, what cohorts are likely to churn and when, and how far a new user gets before dropping off.
These metrics give you valuable insight into where your product is succeeding and where it might be falling short. By looking at the data, you’ll know exactly where you need to experiment or run a Customer Development process so users can get the most value out of your app.
And try taking it beyond quantitative analytics. Marry them with qualitative analytics to create a flywheel of continuous product improvement. First, use quantitative information like the reports above to focus attention on the biggest problems (and opportunities). Then "zoom in" to the level of the user through qualitative research by using something like Fullstory to round out your understanding—and solve the problem.
3. Involve your power users
You have a base of highly engaged users that want to align themselves with your company. These are some of the most mutually beneficial relationships a company can have. Nurture them and you’ll both gain.
Involving power users is especially helpful during product launches. Give your power users a sneak peek at your new product and ask them to help you spread the word with tweets, quotes or re-blogs when you go live.
Further, you can engage your power users by asking them to perform user tests. Because power users probably know your app inside and out, they are best suited for new product user tests. Get them involved early and incorporate feedback that you hear repeatedly.
This is often done loosely via a beta group already, but why not pull a few out of the pile and spend a half hour on the phone watching them click around. Here are some good instructions on conducting an effective 30 minute user test.
4. Build a Slack channel for your community
Slack has swept over the tech sector with it’s easy to use team communication software. It’s common these days to participate in several Slack teams with hundreds of people you share common interests with.
Your customers have a lot in common. They may overlap in business challenges, in organizational role, and—obviously—in the tools that they use. Why not build a community of friends, blog readers and customers on Slack?
Your own Slack community may be a great place to let customers cross-pollinate ideas and let you communicate to customers on a more human basis.
5. Make customer stories easy to tell
Mixpanel’s analytics are easy on the eyes. While this is helpful for their customers, it also makes their company immensely shareable. Mixpanel's rise in popularity was in part because users kept sharing screenshots of the product to show how they’ve gained insight into how they can improve their software. Example here. If Mixpanel didn’t look so pretty, it likely wouldn’t have seen that amount of organic content sharing success stories.
You can do the same for your company.
Figure out how you can help your customers tell their success stories with your software and make that story as easily accessible as possible. If it’s about numbers, make sure they have the right ones in the right context. Sending weekly stats may not be enough.
Make sure they realize when they’ve made some significant improvements or reached something you feel is successful. Follow up with a phone call—or a Slack message—to see if you can help them tell that story. And better on their blog then yours.
6. Empower product managers to create in-product customer experiences
You’ve probably used some form of in-app modals or tooltips to engage customers in your product before. This kind of engagement—the one that goes over your app—can be a highly effective way to onboard new users or to train them on a new feature.
Appcues’ code-free solution has made it much easier to create these experiences. That means non-developers can improve customer engagement by building, iterating and changing in-app experiences like these without bugging their dev team.
7. Move your NPS outreach in-app
NPS can be a great temperature gauge for the happiness of your customers. And moving it in-app means that you're hitting the exact right person at the right time.
Try asking for NPS right after a user achieves a certain workflow, or target it to a specific persona that you're interested in. This way you're not sending email blasts asking the same people the same question repeatedly. And you can stagger your survey to analyze each group separately.
8. Tell your story
Humans are multi-dimensional. They can engage with your company on other levels that aren’t as aligned with your product’s purpose, and that means you should take the time to connect there, too.
By giving your customers a behind-the-scenes view of your company, you come across as authentic, which helps individuals relate to your message. In order to really let these stories hit home, you’ll want to use a lot of imagery via mediums like video and photography.
Litmus—an email testing platform—does a great job of this. Read a few articles on their blog, and you get a sense for their empathy for their customer’s problems as their own.
9. Personalize your customer experience
There are two main types of personalization: dynamic content—think adding in first names—and event-driven automation—think choose-your-own-adventure.
We've called personalized onboarding "the best growth hack in the game."
But, we encourage you to go beyond just the first name tag. Duolingo removes the friction of learning a new language by incorporating elements of personalization into its onboarding UX sequence. The app directs new users through personalized onboarding funnels that are tailored to different levels of experience.
As you can imagine, folks that choose the 'new' adventure will experience a more perfect onboarding flow for them.
And this doesn't just apply to onboarding. Try personalizing your offboarding experience to reduce churn, too.
10. Have a practiced customer development processes
No matter what stage your company is in, you should have a well practiced process for customer development. Because no matter how large you get, there are always feature requests that need to be scoped and customer pain points that need to be addressed.
Steven Blank lays out the process in his book, The Four Steps to Epiphany. It can be loosely summarized in this illustration:
Running a customer development process helps you hypothesize and test what products will further engage your customers, so you can put your time into the ones that are going to work.
Customer engagement at its core is about creating as many stellar channels and touchpoints as you can. After all, highly-engaged customers are more likely to pay more, promote more, and be more loyal than less-engaged customers.
So, what strategies, channels, and touchpoints have worked for you?
Tweet at us @Appcues, and let us know.
[Editor's note: We've refreshed a previous version of this list for 2018—hope you enjoyed it!]