Thursday, January 17, 2013

Customer Engagement - The Ultimate Measure of Product Success

Customer Engagement
If a customer is not really using your product, are they really a customer?

I've seen this a countless number of times, where an organization purchases a product only for it to sit on their IT shelf after only a handful of usage. Every now and again it is dusted off to do something, but then is placed right back on that shelf.

I don't believe you can call someone with this pattern your customer. Unless that minimal use is extremely important for the customer, you either have the wrong product or sales has sold them this product for a quick buck (which does of course happen, but will ultimately hurt your brand). Sticky products translate into higher long term value (LTV) and harvest true champions for your business.

What could be missing? Perhaps your product is too complicated to understand. How about some self-help videos? Is your documentation up-to-snuff? If you don't have an MVP (minimally viable product) yet and there are necessary capabilities which are not there, have you established workarounds? Does the customer have other products installed which provide similar capabilities? These should all be danger signs that you must be visible to, and have plans in place to correct. Check-in on a regular basis with your customers and have open conversations, much like special advisers do in large organizations for their highest-profile customers. In this day and age where customer service is an important differentiator among a sea of competition, it's very important to connect often to show that you are a partner in your customer's success.

Without a sound platform for measurement, you will never help yourself uncover the customers that require assistance. Today there are many SaaS solutions that can help measure customer engagement:

  • Marketing Automation: Track and nurture the online behavior of leads and customers (among other automation capabilities). Solution providers include HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot.
  • Gamification: The use of game theory within your SaaS apps to increase engagement. Solution providers include Badgeville, BigDoor Media, and iActionable.
  • Customer Engagement Management: Track SaaS application usage down to particular features. Solution providers include Totango and Apptegic.
  • Don't forget your CRM system. It should be used to provide one unified view of your customers, from visit logs to payment patterns and purchase history.

This technology can be used to help you analyze millions of data points and come up with real-time ways to optimize and increase product use (can you smell Big Data?). In addition, content marketing is not only effective prior to the sale but also after the sale to ensure your customer always has the right information at the right time during their use of your products.

If you want to retain your customers and convert them into champions for your product and company, you need to raise their usage. That means regularly connecting with them to understand their pain points and usage patterns, and providing them solutions that adapt to their natural tendencies. The ultimate goal is to produce products that matter most to customers and the market. If your target "customer" is not getting consistent value from that product, then you really don't understand your target customer or market.


  1. Sam,

    Thanks for the mention to Apptegic- I really appreciate you referencing us a tool for customer engagement. I think your graphic does a great job visualizing the fact that the customer experience involves so many different touch points that need managing. There need to be a connectedness within all the sales and marketing activities otherwise customer may get confused about who they're actually dealing with. This involves many people and many pieces along the journey. Apptegic is a piece of the puzzle that utilizes the customer's data to enable their own successful behavior on websites and application, which is important for retention and growth.

    -Ryan Connors
    Marketing Manager at Apptegic

    1. Thanks Ryan for your note. I'm glad that you agree. It's important more than ever to get actionable analysis from the mountain of collected information around market, prospect, and customer engagement. I believe those that have a handle on that will succeed over their competition.