The forgotten way to increase customer engagement & retention

I saw this tweet from a friend a couple of days ago:

This rung so true in my experience of engaging with hundreds of businesses and start-ups with mobile apps. They are eager to hear how someone can help them solve “engagement and retention” using analytics and push notification tools, not so much to hear how they can win customer trust and loyalty, and differentiate through high quality customer service.

Three years of selling Konotor, and now Hotline (after being acquired by Freshdesk) opened our eyes to this as a company. We realized early that we didn’t have enough adoption evangelizing the use of messaging for support and feedback. We innovated on the product to make it an “inbox for your app” or a “communication hub” combining engagement and support, rather than being a pure customer support tool. That gave us our product-market fit!

Businesses are reluctant to deploy people to support their service, while they are too happy to send more push notifications to users — from newer tools that help with better targeting or automation. Once you tweak the message to be about “engagement and retention”, they are keen to work with you.

Don’t get me wrong. I completely appreciate these products that help you engage users smartly — based on their past actions, where they are in your “funnel”, or their demographic profile, etc. Lifecycle messaging is essential to on-board new users effectively. Re-engagement campaigns work well to win over lapsing users. And you need to invest in doing these. In fact, we help you do this as well at Hotline, and even help customers set up the right kind of automated engagement campaigns for early users, inactives, etc.

But we shouldn’t miss the big picture here. Looking at your metrics, running automated campaigns, etc. can only get you to a local-maximum. If you aren’t focusing on delighting your customers through your overall customer service experience, you can’t truly attain the global-maxima, i.e., the true potential of your business.

We do, of course, also work with businesses like Zomato on the other hand, that pride themselves about focusing on “customer delight”. There is a fanatic need to keep every single customer happy — I believe a quality that manifests itself into a growing cohort of loyal users, and a multiplier as they bring in more users. You can read about some of it on their blog here.

Going the extra mile has worked extremely well for Zomato, and it shows in their customer retention rates. From their blog: “The frequency of orders has grown exponentially for returning customers. In India, the order frequency for retained customers has increased 2x from 1.5 in Jun ’15 to 3.2 in Jan ‘16.”

The effect of this approach very real, and possibly the best way to truly grow that MAU number we all focus on.

I wish more companies recognize this and add more focus to customer experience, rather than just spending all their energy figuring which campaigns will get them more app opens.

PS: If you want to discuss what customer delight means for your company or app, do reach out to us on twitter or mail. Happy to brainstorm!

Srikrishnan Ganesan

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Building things @Freshdesk. Love Technology, Products.