7 minute read · Published January 23, 2024

Performance improvement: How to create an experience that drives customer retention

Latest Update June 7, 2024

The dinner table's set, the chicken's in the oven and your partner's coming home for date nighjt in 30 minutes.

As the car pulls up, you head towards the door. On the way, you notice an odd smell. Did you leave a candle on? You rush into the kitchen and see that what used to be a delicious roasted chicken now makes the oven look like a coal mine.

"I've got to tell you something" you say as you open the door.

It’s never fun falling short of expectations. And it is especially true when you’re onboarding customers and retaining them. It’s a dance, and if you’re stepping off beat, your customers are likely to back out.

The reality is that customer retention isn’t easy. You have to convince users to try your app, and if they don’t see the value in the first few minutes, you’ll lose them to churn.

So what can you do? You can build a winning strategy for growth by adopting a continuous mindset of performance improvement and engagement strategies to increase the customer lifecycle.

We can help—by diving deep into the elements of performance improvement and exploring how to apply those strategies to your platforms so you can get customers to that “aha” moment (we promise it’ll be more palatable than operation roasted chicken). 

Your quest for excellence

Your platform can be the best tool on the market, but if users fail to adopt it, they can’t experience its value—and your growth is limited. 

Performance improvement helps us evolve the onboarding and adoption experience for better results. The more successful you are at this, the more users stick to your app and see its value.

If you want to provide a better experience, then you need to balance two objectives:

  1. A very clear activation and learning strategy for adoption
  2. An engagement experience that makes it fun and effective 

For the first, users should be able to navigate your app and learn it quickly. The greater the learning curve, the greater your churn. A user-friendly, straightforward interface is critical for adoption.

Most platforms understand this and strive for better products. But it shouldn’t stop after the first iteration. Often, this leads to forced, clunky onboarding and adoption tactics that include annoying popups and dragged-out educational campaigns. 

This rigid experience, while well-intentioned, does the opposite. Users leave the app faster than a gator at a leather shop.

That brings us to the second and most important point. User intent and behavior should be the cornerstone of your adoption strategy and measure of success. Long-term engagement is the priority.

By embracing the self-learning and discovery experience consumers expect today, you can create an adoption experience that puts users in the driver's seat.

Let users wander and explore, while you facilitate their curiosities on their intertwining journey to your main destination.

textbook vs. reality customer journey
textbook vs. reality

If you look at customer journeys in textbooks, they are often depicted in a linear fashion, perfectly organized and planned. But we know humans don’t function that way. The reality looks like a scribbled ball full of interests, questions, failures, and successes. 

That doesn’t mean we abandon a conscientious flow through our onboarding and activation journey. We can still facilitate their desires and productively engage with them as they explore our apps.

Performance review: Identifying gaps in digital product management

We know it’s critical to identify and prioritize areas of opportunity for both customer activation and increasing user adoption. That requires some quality control.

You can start by finding performance gaps. Are subscribers using all your features? When you introduce a new one, how many customers try it out and use it daily? 

Avoid picking popular or vanity metrics to decide how you measure performance. Effective performance management decides what metrics are important for your business.

CommandBar’s framework quiz can help define your key objectives for your performance improvement plan:

What is your primary business objective? 

  1. Your company wants to maintain customer satisfaction and optimize loyalty.
  2. You want to improve features and create a better experience.
  3. Your business wants to acquire more customers.

Which are the primary metrics your business tracks right now?

  1. You track customer retention the most.
  2. User engagement metrics are the main focus.
  3. You track revenue growth as a primary metric.

Define your current customer base. 

  1. Are they loyal? 
  2. Are they diverse with different needs and preferences? 
  3. Are you getting started, and your base is growing fast (some of it is undefined)?

Finally, ask which situation best describes your product:

  1. It’s a dependable business with a recurring product/subscription.
  2. It’s a digital product sold once until you have a new offer.
  3. It’s a startup.

Once you’ve completed the quiz and noted each number, compare it with your results:

If most of your answers are 1: Use the Flywheel framework, which focuses on customer loyalty. Review the entire customer journey and optimize for high satisfaction every step of the way. This holistic approach focuses on customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty. 

If most of your answers are 2: Use the Google HEART framework to improve and measure user experience. HEART focuses on happiness, engagement, adoption, and retention.

If most of your answers are 3: Use the Pirate Metrics framework for fast customer acquisition and revenue growth. The method starts with a funnel at acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue. 

Leveraging digital adoption platforms to hit performance goals 

By now you may have your framework in mind, but it’s not easy implementing an action plan. It’s like your neighbor giving you directions to build your own garden planter box, and it looks like an octagon instead of a rectangle. It’s easier said than done.

The best way to optimize for better performance is with an adoption platform. 

Tools like CommandBar use AI assistants, fun tours and checklists, and other onboarding and adoption experiences to make the process memorable and enjoyable for users. It eliminates annoying popups and instead guides users through with an app they don’t know yet, sans brute force.

Because let’s face it: no one likes a blind date that talks about themselves. And the right adoption platform puts new users first. They let new customers explore the app on their terms with non-invasive, helpful nudges and personalized customer journeys. 

You and your customers reap the benefits when you put your adoption strategy on autopilot.

Integrating user feedback for continuous product enhancement

This next performance improvement strategy is simple: listen to the customer. 

When’s the last time you’ve read the comment section on a YouTube video? Those commenters aren’t shy. They’ll throw everything at you—the ugly and… the ugly. Thankfully, most users on your app want to be there and don’t show up because of an algorithm. Their feedback is constructive because they’ve already invested in you.

You can provide opportunities within your adoption platform via in-app feedback. The easier it is for customers to articulate their concerns, the better you can serve them and mitigate poor performance issues.

Not only can you resolve issues during the activation or adoption improvement process, but you can also study user intent. As you develop a tighter feedback loop, you’ll notice recurring themes. Maybe customers feel like onboarding takes too long, or they consistently resist a certain feature. You can address those root causes head-on and begin building a profile on your users' behaviors and expectations.

Data-driven decision making: A PM's best friend

Product managers need data to make better decisions. A good adoption platform can help collect vital information and execute on it. The decisions you make with data should also be in the context of creating a better experience for the user. 

For example, if you notice users aren’t using a feature, the data might help you identify when users ignore the opportunity to try it. But the answer isn’t overloading them with popups urging them to give it a chance. A user experience-minded platform would add nudges in real time during actual use cases for a subscriber to get a better result. 

User adoption platforms that put experience first can help combine the power of data with optimized product improvements. 

Case study: Transforming the product experience by putting users first

Typeframes does a superb job at onboarding new users through an engaging and rewarding journey. Users can test the tool for the first time without signing up. They insert text into a form and immediately generate a text-based video for marketing. 

Source: Typeframes “text to video” tool page

Typeframes founder, Tibo Louis-Lucas, continues his successful streak of attracting users, sustaining retention and growing adoption rates. He also founded Taplio and Tweet Hunter, tools that help individuals and businesses grow on LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter), respectively. 

Tibo recounted his strategy to the CommandBar team, saying that their Typeframes tool page:

  • “Quickly shows the main feature of the SaaS”
  • “Makes the user engage with the tool very quickly”
  • “Drives usage without friction (like sign up or subscribe)”
  • “Reduces time to [get to the] aha moment”

Tibo reemphasized his last point about the “aha” moment: “You need to make your app quickly show its unique touch so the user is willing to invest [their] precious time in learning about what you do.”

Source: Typeframes’ “text-to-video” tool page | This illustration shows how easy it is for an interested visitor to test the product. In a few seconds, they’ve seen the value of the tool.

As you find ways to implement performance improvement, identify how to give users the “aha” moment as soon as possible. It’s even better to do it before they commit to your platform. 

Future-proofing your product with ongoing improvement strategies

Tools that can power your improvement process leverage the best automated features for user adoption and retention.

And while human performance management plays a big part in improving your adoption experience, you also need a tool that can identify opportunities and execute your action steps.

You can run your business, hit milestones, and improve your product, knowing your platform is successfully increasing adoption rates. The happier long-term users you have, the more ambassadors will send new customers your way to experience your app.

Platforms like CommandBar lead users through your app to fully experience features and see the value of your product as quickly as possible. You only need to follow up on results and custom feedback to tweak your process and improve the experience.

Users are gently guided through nudges, interactive checklists, and an AI assistant trained with your docs and content for the most qualified answers possible. 

These powerful platforms can ease frightful churn rates and help you grow your business while creating a high-quality, satisfying customer experience. 

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