7 minute read · Published January 17, 2024

The customer engagement tool people don't actually hate

Latest Update February 14, 2024

You’re zoned out at a birthday party and eating potato chips when Jerry gets the karaoke mic. 

He points at you, “C’mon down and sing ‘Shake it Off’!” 

The crowd swivels their necks to you. 

What are the first thoughts to come to your mind while choking on chips dipped in ranch? 

Time to jet!

Cat surprise gif

Case in point: everyone loves to have fun. Nobody likes to be forced to have fun. 

Engagement is a careful art. How you structure and implement your strategy will have everything to do with its success. It’s either annoying (like popups no one asked for) or enjoyable and exciting. 

That’s why implementing the right engagement tools to increase customer adoption and retention is essential for long-term platform success. 

Together, we’ll dive into what makes a successful customer engagement tool and how you can implement the features and tactics for stronger customer loyalty. 

Breaking the cycle: What makes a likable tool?

Think of those games you’ve downloaded in the past on your iPhone or Android. You want to jump in and play, but instead, it makes you complete 30 different steps, with many pop-ups along the way. If you’re like most people, you’re over it before you’ve even played the game. 

Most SaaS companies and platforms understand these frustrations. So, they dissect user interaction and intent and look for ways to improve. That’s part of the solution. 

While automation, push notifications, customer surveys, and other components are essential, businesses must focus on the core of customer behavior needs. Companies need to grasp emotional resonance to increase sales and grow.

Emotional resonance refers to the ability to connect with someone in an emotional way. In other words, can you introduce someone to your app and provide a personal, fun experience that wins loyal customers?

Emotional resonance also validates that your product is helpful, easy to understand, and enjoyable (far from annoying). 

Businesses can embed this sentiment into their platform. They can add engaging onboarding, activation, and adoption experiences. Users can have the resources they need throughout the app to take full advantage of your features.

What would such an engagement tool look like? It starts with personal, relevant experiences.

Personable, not pesky: Redefining customer engagement tools

Customer engagement tools need to create highly relevant experiences. They can do so by creating segmentation based on customer behavior and during customer activation.

For example, organizations can train employees for language learning experiences on an app like Babbel for Business. Users quickly sign up, focus on skills and goals, and instantly jump into short, 15-minute lessons. As they move forward, the platform helps them focus on areas for improvement and their unique interests.

This discovery process, immediate experience, and flexible options help Babbel for Business provide the customer with an enjoyable journey to adoption.

But even more notable, the journey is theirs. The users craft it and choose how they want to experience the platform. That's the key to sparking (not forcing) engagement. 

Babbel customer engagement

Source: Babbel for Business Youtube video, "How to start learning with Babbel" | Users can pick the way they want to learn.

Because of these pleasant engagement experiences, employees and teams are becoming more fluent and diverse in communication. 

So the next time you say "excuse me" in Spanish while you squeeze through a tightly-packed crowd, you won't confuse "disculpame" with "escupeme" ("spit on me")—true story.

Personalized interactions help increase customer engagement, decrease churn, and create a better customer experience.

Customers also enjoy a process that has engaging, user-friendly engagement tools with great functionality. It starts by implementing features to power your strategy.

Features that delight: 7 engagement tools done right

Great customer engagement platforms implement features that naturally drive engagement and empower the user's desire for self-learning at their own pace.

Below are seven features and tools you can implement to improve customer engagement:

1. Engaging product tours

Companies providing user assistance (like product tours) that guide customers through their platform should not bombard them with annoying pop-ups. Instead, incorporate well-timed, helpful notifications and tools to assist users.

For example, nudges gently point users in the right direction. Whether it’s a new feature or part of your tour, users can self-guide their journey when they see your suggestions.

Adding a checklist feature is also a powerful user engagement tool. Customers can follow your onboarding trajectory at their own pace. This interactive approach helps your customers experience key functions of your platform and activates them, so that by the  end of their tour, they see immediate value (and who doesn’t love the satisfying feeling of crossing things off a to-do list).

Old woman meme

2. In-app feedback

Customer engagement tools should include in-app surveys and feedback to gather important information and give users an outlet to connect with you. This is a crucial feature, because it helps you understand user behavior and needs and fuels customer satisfaction metrics.

Ensure you have an easily-identifiable place where users can contact you in-app. Offer great customer support with quick response times and relevant answers. 

3. AI-powered assistant

Not every platform will have a 24/7 contact support center. But they can have a full-time chatbot doing the heavy lifting for them. Some users want communication immediately, and AI-assistant bots can bridge that gap in your support team. 

For example, CommandBar’s assistant, CoPilot, uses company docs, content, and other useful resources to train itself so it can accurately answer and interact with users. When a customer has a question, they can get a prompt, relevant response. If they need more help, the AI assistant can point them to the right expert.

4. Knowledge base

Platforms should have a virtual helpdesk or resource hub for reasonable user autonomy. Whether they need quick instructions or want to dig deeper to master your app, there should be a searchable resource that can help them. 

You can create a searchable hub with all your docs, blog articles, and resources. You can also include an FAQ section on the same page to make your most common questions accessible at a glance.

Technology has supercharged how we can maximize knowledge bases. It can also power chatbots like CommandBar’s HelpHub does. The AI chatbot uses your information as source material to interact with customers and answer their questions immediately. 

CommandBar Copilot

Source: CommandBar HelpHub

5. Community opportunities

Customer engagement needs are often tied to community. They want to feel part of something. Even solid engagement tools that provide a fun in-app experience can benefit from adding rich layers of connection—like hosting a brand community.

Your community engagement strategy doesn’t have to be complex. You can use social media like LinkedIn or Facebook groups. Or you can use communication apps like Slack or Discord. You can even use WhatsApp or Telegram (which works like an SMS experience). 

The best choice is the place where your customers already like to hang out—much easier than winning people over to a new platform. If your app can host a community holistically, that’s even better.

6. Mobile-friendliness

Customer engagement should incorporate an omnichannel experience. That means whether your user is on their computer or phone, you still meet the same user-friendly expectations. 

Ensure your engagement is just as good and interactive on mobile phones. As customers increasingly prefer their cell phones (54% of users in 2021 generated all global traffic), you can add value when you provide a top engagement experience no matter what device they use. 

7. Relevant integrations

Engagement tools should also include integrations that your users use daily. For example, if they have a CRM, they might benefit from a smooth integration with your app. Plugging into software like Salesforce, Google Analytics, Mailchimp, SurveyMonkey, or ZenDesk can be worth the effort and support your users’ B2B or B2C needs.

Example: Stripe onboarding and engaging longevity 

Stripe in-app onboarding photo

Source: Stripe in-app onboarding

Stripe, the payment processing company, readily engages with customers and builds loyalty by putting onboarding and user activation in the hands of users.

When a user signs up for the first time, they see a screen encouraging them to receive payments. But the app gives users the power to influence their first experience. They get a quick overview of what they need to set up payments successfully. Stripe also tells them how long it should take. 

Users go through a self-guided checklist of what they need to accomplish, at their own pace.

Stripe onboarding 2

Source: Stripe in-app onboarding

If the user does not want to go forward right away, they can “explore more features” instead of setting up payments in the beginning. 

Stripe’s options offer a satisfying balance between users' eagerness to explore and establishing their account essentials (as a guide gently supports them). The app prompts with critical questions to assess what the user is looking for. Once they respond, the process continues to help meet their needs.

Stripe onboarding 3

Source: Stripe in-app onboarding

This is how you develop customer loyalty. You offer the experience they want, make it enjoyable, and support customers when needed. 

Brands can continue this strategy throughout the customer lifecycle with new features, events, and other opportunities to connect with their users.

The heart of appreciating your customers (and the future of product engagement)

Integrating feedback is a core practice for understanding and responding to customer engagement. 

By implementing these techniques with the right customer engagement tool like CommandBar, you can better connect with your customers and create a loyal, long-term user base.

And remember: customers don’t care about metrics. 

While analytics are vital in understanding engagement and improving overall performance, customers choose based on their experience and emotional connection to your platform. 

You can retain loyal customers by listening and using that feedback to provide an enjoyable and personalized app experience.

The future of customer engagement involves optimizing and leveraging technologies like AI-powered solutions, while also finding ways to make human connections for a pleasant app experience. 

From onboarding to daily product usage, customers should get an experience that they look forward to and that empowers them with the full value of your platform.

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