10 User / Customer Engagement Strategies for 2017

Written by: Ty Magnin Ty Magnin 

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 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 2017, 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 can drive 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.

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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 the rise of affordable and out-of-the-box analytics systems like Mixpanel, Amplitude, or Heap Analytics, it’s become easy to measure product engagement by customer.

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.

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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.  

3) 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:

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Running a customer development process helps you hypothesis and test what products will further engage your customers, so you can put your time into the ones that are going to work.  

4) Run Machine Learning to Identify at Risk Companies

Machine learning is growing in relevance in the technology world. Framed.io has built a straightforward solution that you can lean on to identify companies that are at risk for churn. Their machine learning algorithms analyze your data retrospectively and predict what customers might be at current risk for churn.framed-data-io-churn-prediction.jpg

This can help you know who to engage with extra touchpoints to keep them using your product.  

5) 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 30m user test.

6) 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.

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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.

Buffer has a great community on Slack, and many other companies are also taking advantage of this tactic. But with the rise in channels, you may want to act fast before it’s too late.  

7) 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 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.mixpanel-screenshot.jpg

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.

8) 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-user-onboarding-1.gifAppcues’ 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.

9) Send In-App Surveys

With services like Qualaroo, it’s so easy to trigger beautiful in-app surveys that you have no excuse to de-prioritize them anymore. Place a survey after a user achieves a certain workflow or target it at a specific persona.

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In-app surveys that help you measure NPS or overall customer satisfaction can be a leading indicator of your product’s improvements—or deterioration—over time.

10) 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 you should respect that by taking advantage of it.

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 to help in this purpose.

Litmus—an email testing platform—does a great job of this. A few reads of their blog and you get a sense for their empathy for their customer’s problems as their own. Here’s an example.

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