Tell Your Customers What To Do.

by Richard

About a year ago, I came across a service that said that it could help me understand how my websites ranked for certain keywords, and why. The sales page said that the service would help me to figure out why my competitors ranked higher than I did for certain terms, and how to get more traffic to my website.  After looking over their sales page, I was convinced that it could help me, so I signed up and set it up.

A few hours later, I logged in and saw page after page filled with tables of information that the service had collected for me. It showed where my site was ranked for specific keywords, and how many monthly searches each keyword had, so I could get an idea of the popularity of each keyword. It also showed a lot of other things that I didn’t really understand. I’m sure that this service works well for some people, and that a lot of people do get value out of it, but those people are probably SEO experts, or at least people who live in that world. As for me, I just saw a lot of data that I didn’t understand. I didn’t have time to learn what everything meant, and the app didn’t really help me to understand just what I was looking at, why it was important, and what I should be doing based on that data. These things led to me canceling my subscription before my trial was even up.

When you build a SaaS app, you are building your product for people. People don’t want to have to think. People are busy. People want to log into your app and see how it’s helping them, and to see if they have any pressing tasks. If you can write some code to automatically figure out what the next action steps are for the user based on the information that your app has collected, do it. Don’t present a bunch of information and put the burden on your customers to figure out what it is, and what to do with it.

Back when SaaS apps were just getting started, it was acceptable to just dump a bunch of information into a table and show it to your customers, because that was black magic. People were impressed by the simple fact that you made an app that put stuff in a database and spit other stuff out. Now, that kind of thing can be created in a short amount of time using things like Ruby on Rails, so the bar has been raised.

In order to delight your users, you need to take things a step further. Here are some examples of how I’ve done that recently.

When you log into Retained, among other things you are shown a list of what we call Actionable Conversations, instead of being shown a table full of all of the running conversations that you’re having with your customers (that’s one click away). The Actionable Conversations section shows messages that need to be replied to, based on things like who replied to the message thread last, and who you are. ¬†This lets Retained users get in, do support and get back to work in much less time than it would take them to look through a list of open tickets to see what needs replying to. When you log into the web app of our closest competitor, you are shown a list of your users. That is possibly the least useful screen that you could be taken to if you’re trying to do support.

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In another app that I develop (Stunning), I’ve made some recent updates to the dashboard that shows a list of all of your customers who’ve gone delinquent in the current month.

It looks something like this:


Instead of just showing a list of delinquent customers for the month, I show when they signed up, so that Stunning users can easily tell if a long-time customer or someone who signed up recently has gone delinquent, because although losing any customer is never good, long-time customers are usually more important, because they’ve already found enough value in your app that they’ve paid you for it for awhile. That’s useful information, but I take it even further by showing where Stunning is in the dunning process, and whether a customer has been saved or not. If Stunning gets through the entire dunning process and the billing information isn’t updated, Stunning suggests that they reach out to that customer. That way, they can easily see both what Stunning is doing and what they need to do.

So, if you can figure it out based on the information that your app is collecting, tell your customers what to do (or at least give them some hints). They’ll love you for it, and you’ll retain more customers because they won’t get frustrated about having to sift through all of the information that you’re dumping onto the screen and end up running into the arms of an app that tells them what to do.

Kill your churn. Keep more of your customers. Get an invite to Retained.

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