Design for Customer Engagement

7 times you thought you were doing good, but you weren’t

Pavel Pekanov
Feb 1, 2019 · 9 min read

About the author

Pavel Pekanov is a seasoned Creative Director, Art Director and Designer (and a Developer, but tss-s tell no one). Started his creative career in 2004, followed by the launch of his own Creative Agency in 2008. Ranked a top earning freelancer on Upwork (former Elance) in 2013. Launched a few startups of his own. Featured on CSS Design Awards. Former Creative Director at QUOINE. Pavel has been helping startups, founders and well run businesses with Branding, Product Design, UI/UX and Brand Experience for 14+ years.

Personal website: pekanov.com


1. Ask to install a mobile app.

I get it. Conversions, platform that’s optimized for mobile experience, or plain excuse to have a mobile development department. But, really, since when did it become so ridiculously intrusive? Like this:

LinkedIn

For starters, it tells me that LinkedIn works better on mobile. Which, honestly, is just not true. Not only the app doesn’t entail any additional value compared to the web, but it works slower than the web at times. Better how exactly? Any insights into what’s different on mobile app? Don’t bother looking up, they don’t have it outlined anywhere.

That blue “Continue” action button is downright confusing. It will direct you to download the app, while you would expect it to let you con-ti-nue your browsing experience. Well, until you read what’s below that button which, by the way, sometimes just goes off-screen. Why? Because sometimes LinkedIn displays their top “Download the app” prompt that eats up precious pixels so the entire page moves down.

Better how exactly? Any insights into what’s different on mobile app?

It’s a major show stopper — you won’t be able to close it unless you hit the other “Continue with mobile web” option with arrow-sharp precision. Clicking anywhere else will not hide the entire thing.

Finally, this is asked every time you open LinkedIn on the mobile web. Just downright painfully ridiculous.

Medium (and a plethora of other websites doing it)

You thought it’s a good idea to inform people you’ve got a mobile app. Maybe you invested into great UI/UX design for your mobile app. Maybe you really provide great mobile experience that surpasses web by a mile. Maybe. Though, even if you do, installing your mobile app on the phone is still an “option”, a gesture of good will if I may.

I’m a completionist (Does it count as a light form of OCD? Let me know in the comments). I tend to leave my inbox empty, close apps I don’t use, finish drafts and close everything I can close before I start using something, because I don’t want to be distracted. What happens when I use Medium on the web? I have to close that damn “Open in app”. Every. Single. Time.

I wonder how many of you feel the same way?

Solution

Put the mobile app option somewhere else. A small icon at the website header, a link at the menu or site footer. Don’t be intrusive. Customer Engagement is about making someone’s stay enjoyable. Remember that, and you’ll be fine.

2. Fire up Customer Support prompt.

Ah, the thrill of opening a new website and being attacked by a Customer Support chatbox. Priceless.

You literally spent just a few seconds on the website. You don’t have questions so far, you don’t even know what that product is about and what that company is doing. You’re exploring, you’re getting engaged.

And then… BANG! Can I help you with something? Good day, how can I help you? Do you have any questions, sir? God damn it, I don’t! At least, not now. Maybe never. [Website closes.]

Help me with what exactly? If I have a question on life, universe and everything does that count? See, you don’t have the context to provide any kind of Support, yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big advocate for having Customer Support early on and having it as a major part of Product Experience. However, unless your product is the (almighty) chatbox, don’t do that. Get the context first.

Do you have any questions, sir? God damn it, I don’t! At least, not now. Maybe never. [Website closes.]

For those, who’d like to know more about Product Experience and Company Experience, and how Customer Support is the integral part of either of them, read my previous article: https://medium.com/p/ui-ux-and-the-company-experience-a-refined-know-it-all-guide-on-all-about-the-product-82e8662fda00

Solution

Leave the chatbox closed by default. Have an icon to click and open the chatbox when it’s needed. In other words, when there is the context.

Track the user behavior. Fire up Support when there is erratic mouse movements, weird inactivity periods that indicate the user is a bit confused. Guess the context, create the context and provide Support.

3. Go with the defaults.

I’m talking loading indicators, progress bars, buttons—the small stuff. They are small so who cares, right? Wrong.

These tiny UI elements often taken for granted, nurtured by obsessive UI perfectionists, dumped by lazy developers and project managers. So much time crafting them to perfection, later to be wrote off the code like it’s nothing. Poor things.

The truth is, details create excitement and that for one simple reason—your users will come across them every single moment, every single second of loading times, every single second of waiting for more of your content. Make it count. Make it fun to wait. Engage.

Here are a few examples from my past projects. These are loading indicators that are displayed once the user scrolled the page down (content preload):

Animated mascots for e-commerce website selling entertainment items (music, movies, books, games, etc.)

…details create excitement and that for one simple reason — your users will come across them every single moment, every single second of loading times…

And this is a custom refresh animation for a mobile app:

Refreshing tables on mobile apps may be the most frequent action the user does. Why leave it boring default?

Solution

Show a bit of creative touch, show that you care. Build up for engagement, don’t just wait for it to happen on its own.

4. Call them users, customers or by the name.

This is an email thing, usually. And it’s so lame, that I’ll keep it here just for the sake of it being so very stupid.

I’m talking about Mr. “Dear valued Customer”, Mr. “Dear user” and Mr. “First name”. Also seen at your local spam box, population zero by the end of day.

What if I haven’t bought anything from you, yet? What if I don’t even use your product? Why do you call my name? I know it’s a marketing email, I know it’s most likely spam email and we haven’t met or dated (unless a person can meet or date, say, a web store).

Solution

We’ve got features X at our Y, that help you do Z. There is new product at our store that you might like, etc. Keep it off the email, start with something neutral and get on point fast.

If you absolutely want to call your audience something and your product name sounds cool, try building a sense of inclusiveness with -ers and -ists. For e.g.: Mediumists (Mediumierites?), if you’re speaking to your Medium readers.

Though, keep in mind that may sound silly and depends entirely on your product name; not to mention, it’s quite casual and frivolous.

I did Quoiners at my last job (QUOINE). It works because it comes effortless off your tongue. May not work for you company or product. Though, this area is open to improvisation.

5. Ignore engagement that’s already there.

Also mostly an email thing. So when you know, that your dear valued customer spent quite a few monies with you, that’s when you call him or her by name. Always. And you add “please”.

Solution

Personalized emails and communication with loyal audience. That’s what loyalty points/tiers/levels are for. Detect those in good standing and personalize their Product Experience.

…when you know, that your dear valued customer spent quite a few monies with you, that’s when you call him or her by name. Always. And you add “please”.

How good is to feel oneself a preferred customer? HUGE. That’s how. And they almost never leave you.

6. Have a mobile web for a very complex product.

Here is a random sample complex product:

liquid.com LIQUID CARBON (early concept)

Imagine something like that packed into a mobile screen:

Left: web app. Right: native mobile app. Same product.

Needless to say, the left doesn’t look like something either user-friendly or usable on a mobile device. However, the right totally looks like something appealing to try out and use on the phone (and on the go).

Solution

Not all web products need to be mobile-friendly. Especially, if they were designed for desktop in the first place, and are intended to be used on desktop.

Detect the platform and display a prompt to get the mobile app for the best experience, whenever someone is trying to access your product from a mobile device.

Not all web products need to be mobile-friendly. Especially, if they were designed for desktop in the first place, and are intended to be used on desktop.

An even better approach, would be displaying a landing page designed exclusively for the mobile telling the visitors that your product is not available on a mobile device unless they download a native app. That will be the right time and the right place to be aggressive with prompts regarding your mobile app availability.

7. Provide tutorials, walk-throughs, and explicit on-boarding at the very first Sign In. Or even worse, at Sign Up.

This may sound like a great idea to explain everything to one who is new to your product.

I’ve seen walk-throughs explaining stuff as easy as creating a new account; on-boarding screens urging one to turn every feature on for the sake of, right, explaining everything there is to explain; tutorials that felt more like content marketing pieces rather than actual explanations.

And you know what? To hell with it!

So here is a thing. Having something that may be just a bit unclear is totally acceptable. Live with it. It’s OK to have something that’s not clear in your product. You don’t have to explain it right away. Let your customer get the very first impression and experience.

Having something that may be just a bit unclear is totally acceptable. Live with it.

Solution

Make a game out of every little bit of learning within your product. Getting through with on-boarding? Give reward. Tutorial has been completed? Give reward. In other words, incentivize.

Roll out a simplified UI for the first time users. Ask them whether they are ready for more. Show them more, when they are ready. In other words, engage with your customers.

Research to make your product learning experience a simple game, and there is a prize to collect at the finish line. Make it worth trying in the first place.


Good read

My other article on Product Experience & Company Experience: https://medium.com/p/ui-ux-and-the-company-experience-a-refined-know-it-all-guide-on-all-about-the-product-82e8662fda00

Are you after the best Company Experience?

I’d love to hear from you, if you’re after the best Company Experience your customers can have or if you’re after the ultimate Product Experience. Shoot me an email.

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