Get Returning Customers the First Time Around

Product Office Hour with uCiC (Snapwise Inc.)

Think about the last time you explored a new product — may it be an app, a software, or even your new rice cooker. How did you like that experience? Did you have an “A-HA, this is how you use it” moment? What made you use that product again? Or not?

Recently, a team of product managers and designer from Pivotal Labs sat down with Sukhsagar Singh from Snapwise Inc. during our Product Office Hour to tackle a similar challenge. uCiC is an app produced by Snapwise Inc. that allows anyone in the world to reach out to a stranger for a question and get their answers (in a form of photos) right away. During the office hour, Snapwise was especially eager to get feedback on delivering the first “delight moment” to their customers through uCiC and on retaining customers.

What‘s the motivation?

The first step to a successful product is understanding your customers. Snapwise Inc. came in with a pretty clear idea of who their targeted customers are and what major use cases would be for uCiC. But as the Pivotal Labs team and Sukhsagar began to tease out more details about user needs and requirements, we noticed that uCiC is trying to address various customer needs in one app. The direct consequence is that users are very confused about the purpose of the app.

Human behaviors are driven by motivations. In order to encourage users’ continuous interaction with uCiC, Snapwise needs to identify uCiC’s core value that people can benefit from and to carry it throughout the product. With limited resources and time, it also makes sense, both financially and strategically, to address one need at a time. Hence the concept of MVP (Minimal Viable Product) — the smallest thing you can build to maximize amount of learning from customers without high risks.

The true motivation, on the other hand, is oftentimes obscured. To uncover it, we led Sukhsagar through an exercise called 5 whys, and we were able to narrow focus down to two user needs. Getting everything right the first time round is not easy. It will take some trial and error. Therefore, as a continuation of this exercise, we suggested uCiC to talk to their real customers to validate the assumptions.

OK, now we know why people use the app. But what brings them back?

Another challenge uCiC is facing is maintaining a stable base of returning users through organic traffic (people who have downloaded the app to “try it out”). Like many other startups, uCiC is experiencing difficulties in conveying its value to the customers. Sukhsagar agreed that the current app lacks an upfront tutorial for first-time users. Creating reoccurring visits and delivering the first delightful moment, however, goes beyond that.

One similarity shared by most popular products, such as Facebook, Email, Pinterest, is that there is a loop that users walk through each time they interact with the product. The loop consists of a cue, an action and a reward. In uCiC’s case, the tutorial would be the first contact point for creating a loop and could be the channel for delivering the first “delight moment.” To make it more digestible, we helped uCiC dissect a full loop into several steps:

  1. Provide proper cues. A cue can be a notification or message from the app. It should align with users’ fundamental motivation, which would drive them towards a certain action.
  2. Simplify the actions. Actions vary based on tasks and may include registration, sign-on, sending a message, replying a message, etc. Essentially, an action needs to be clear and simple to do.
  3. Choose rewards wisely. One critical step of enticing users back to the app is to ensure that they receive a reward at the end of the action. What uCiC currently has as a reward is Karma Points, and we felt that it needs to be clarified in terms of its value / benefit to the users.
  4. Show the value. The value can be demonstrated in various ways and it should something that the users invest in and be proud of. For uCiC, this could be a collection of unique photos that users receive via the app.
  5. Tie it back to a new cue. The end of a user flow needs to set the stage for the next interaction. In the case of uCiC, it could be a reply sent directly to users’ phone, setting the stage for users to come back and check the message.

One hour went by fast. Sukhsagar was excited to walk out of the office with lots of feedback from the Pivotal team and a list of action items. A few weeks later we heard back from Sukhsagar with the following message:

“Product office hour for uCiC was laser-focused on the customer value proposition and how to bring it front and centre in the product. I highly recommend anyone building a mobile product to spend some time with the team at Pivotal.”

We look forward to seeing an enticing first-time user on-boarding flow and successful delivery of the first “delight moment” from uCiC!

Special thank you to Sally Botross (Product Manager @ Pivotal Labs).