And 7 reasons why I’ll put support mail in the 2nd screen in my sales pitch.
Despite the booming mobile market even in years to come, there are not many case studies or personal sharing of mobile app developers, so I decided to write my own. Besides helping save the time of other product owners/marketing managers/growth leads, this is also a way for me to consolidate the enormous knowledge and memories I gathered as a self-learned Growth Lead at Unstatic.
This is the 1st episode in my sharing series. Please note that the episodes are in no particular order of importance, but are in yes particular order of interest and memorability. I’d love to have your feedback and contribution to this series from your own perspective/experience. Maybe we can build something together.
This post is originally posted on Medium, under my CEO’s name due to marketing purpose. I am re-writing it under my own name.
Habitify has been on the market for 2 years since 2016, but it was not until late 2017 that Peter, my co-founder, and CEO, designated a team to take care of the customer success. I was selected to lead the team.
Soon enough, I’ve quickly seen the impacts of his decision. So much that I once had wondered why he didn’t do it earlier.
If you’re on the go, here’s a very brief summary of the reasons everyone should participate in customer support. They are also the reasons why, everyone in my team, no matter the role, has to start their internship/job with supporting customers:
- Provide insights
- Connect with power users
- Improve reviews/ratings
- Keep everyone on the same page
- Generate sales
- Good branding
1. Provide insights
Current bugs, translation errors
We only have 1 tester and apparently, she can’t leave every rock unturned. So the mail keeps everyone aware of the “fault in our app” and leads us to take immediate actions.
The urgency of the bug is determined by the number of incoming emails. The funny thing about users is that they may ignore your marketing emails a.k.a your effort to provide extra values and get some “virtual skinship”, but they will hunt you down if there’s a bug or a translation error.
What I have learned from these users, is that I have to take actions ON THE SPOT. More often than not, I received a complaint email one second, and the next one I saw a complaint tweet (from the same user), and the very next one I got a 1-star rating on App Store.
I mean…come on???
If there’s something I have learned throughout the years, it’s this:
Users are often better at giving the solutions than pointing out the (their) problems.
This used to be a headache for us because we thought the app was missing too many things (too bad to be good).
But then we followed up and we see that the problems are only a few and can be either accommodated by current features or a quick update.
We often choose a quick call to follow up on their problems. If you’re looking for some good tips for user interview I’d highly recommend this post from UX Planet: 6 Tips for Better User Interviews
How people use the app
We realize that people use apps in a different way than we’d expect, and they clearly demonstrate it in their feedback emails.
This is really valuable information for us.
As developers, we’re often up in the clouds and think of “supernova” features, of which our users have a completely different perspective and use.
For example, our app Habitify is designed to help people form a few habits at a time, and we have specific features to group the habits and minimize the time people have to go to the app to complete an action (e.g. 3D touch, widget, actionable notifications…)
It turns out that most people use Habitify to record almost every action of their life (from “wake up”, “brush teeth”, “cook breakfast” to “floss”, “go to bed”, and everything in between — you name it) — It’s like a todo list, but for habits.
And what’s more, they tend to go to the app a lot of times during the day, just for the sake of seeing what they have done (which they claim gives them a sense of achievement) and see what’s next.
They want to see what’s next.
That’s what we have never thought of. We build reminders to reduce brain work yet they still want to see what’s next. How ironic!
Identify the Achille heels
Okay, so besides bugs and translations, user’s problems and how they use the app are not necessarily indicators of the app’s weakness.
It might be: the onboarding is too long, the log-in error text is too “commanding”, the setting is too confusing, the setup screen is misleading…
If there’s someone who’s second to being picky, nosy, dainty like moms, that’s definitely our users.
That’s good though. Challenging as it might sound having to deal with those people, they are the ones who drag us down to reality and “force touch” us to perfecting the app before chasing after new features.
2. Connect with power users
An undeniable advantage of answering emails is spotting and connecting with power users.
For us, power users have always been the greatest friends, brand advocates, bug reporters, idea generators, inspirers, translators, mental supporters, teachers (I can list 100 honorable nouns for them)
So after nearly a year of building a support team, we’ve also developed an eye for our power users:
- Very long email with polite opening and ending. Some even wrote like a thesis to point out the improving points of Habitify…
- Go into the details of how they use the app
- Provide very specific solutions. I mean, look at this:
- Give reference to other apps they have used
- Include keywords: “Love, Like, Great, Cat (yeah!), Happy”
And how does that help us? We’ll pin them and invite to the closed beta, support for big launches or ask for a 2nd opinion when we’re stuck.
3. Improve reviews
People often talk about making a good app.
But what if the app is not that good (yet)? Then we must show that we’re willing to make it good, or at least, that’s the plan.
We have a team that’s dedicated to answering emails and support live chat, and in many cases, we’ve successfully resolved cases when users misunderstand (which leads to their utter annoyance) or suffer from app problems (upgrade, sync…)
And in return, we are rewarded with enlightening reviews:
As I researched, an improvement in ratings will push the app rank higher, thus generate more downloads.
It’s like killing two birds with one arrow 🙂
4. Keep everyone on the same page
It tells the marketer that there’s still a dead link in the marketing campaign.
It tells the customer supporter that she’s not quick enough to resolve the bug or find a temporary solution.
It tells the dev team that they’re still not careful when deploying the codes.
It tells me that Habitify is not perfect and that we’ll need to pay more attention to some features.
Support emails are often our main topic during lunch and dinner. It strengthens the bond between everyone, knowing that we’re facing the same challenges.
Admittedly, I’m often stubborn and resistant to new ideas or solutions. But it’s not until I receive emails claiming about a problem that demands those ideas that I start to think about it seriously.
Emails, at its core, are the most concrete proof for any idea proposal.
People often ask us about some specific features before opening their wallets. With the prompt and timely response, we have secured a lot of cases.
Ever since we focus on customer support, our monthly revenue has increased significantly.
Of course, there are other factors attributable to the growth, but with emails like this we’re confident that our support team does contribute to the financial growth.
Who says answering mail is boring?
We have to face all kinds of human: the Angryman, the Complain, the Believer,…
Each kind gives us a journey of emotions. It trains our resilience but at the same time helps us get away from the restrained space of the office.
More often than not we’ll come across support chat like this
or this series of quick “mail-snap”
7. Good branding
Nowadays with fierce competition in every aspect, winning the heart of users boils down to having even slightly better service. And what service, you may ask, can we provide from an app?
It’s mail and live chat.
Even though users might have hundreds of apps on their phone, and are not always on the phone, they still want to be cared about, especially paid ones.
I figure out that one of the key deciding factors for Habitify users to download and pay for the app, is they see our active engagement with our users via changelog, twitter, emails and live chats. And they are not slightly reluctant to leave a good 5-star rating just because their problem is solved immediately.
Now, I’m proud to say that Habitify does not only have the most minimal, intuitive UI and UX app on the habit-tracker market, but it also has the most responsive, kind-hearted and hilarious customer support team.
It is KNOWN FOR THAT.
If there’s a sales pitch about us, that’d be most likely on the second slide (after the introduction)