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Creating Meaningful Customer Relationships In App

Apptentive’s Robi Ganguly recently sat down with The App Guy Podcast‘s Paul Kemp to discuss mobile’s role in creating deep and meaningful customer relationships and shed some light on what it’s like to work in Seattle’s vibrant startup scene.

Apptentive on Customer Relationships

At Apptentive, fostering great customer relationships has always been our top priority.

Apptentive started with a big vision – to bridge the online or in-store experience with the in-app experience. For Robi and the rest of the team, this came down to crafting and fostering customer relationships:

  • Listening for signals of what your customers are thinking;
  • Using the power of customer communication to meet and exceed expectations; and,
  • Seeking out new opportunities to delight your customers regardless of what channel they’re in.

In the podcast, Robi expands on this vision with an explanation of how in-app communication can power meaningful and reciprocal customer relationships, and Apptentive’s role in the process.

By providing a channel, in app, for one-to-one feedback, mobile publishers can reach a much better understanding of the customer experience through surveys, prompts, and messaging capabilities.

If the incoming feedback alludes to a negative customer experience, Robi explains, publishers can use these insights to figure out ways to improve the app and dive deeper into customer problem solving. By stepping in and dealing with negative feedback before it makes its way to an app store rating or review, publishers can curb the subsequent effects of negative word-of-mouth and deal with customer issues in a private manner. And, if feedback points to a more positive experience, you’ve just uncovered an opportunity to foster a reciprocal relationship – turning customers into evangelists. Regardless, unlocking the voice of the customer is a win-win for both customers and companies.

Listen to the podcast at TheAppGuy.co.

customer experience

What’s Driving Investments in Customer Experience?

In a recent post published in CX Journey, we called 2015 ‘The Year of Customer Experience.’ And we think this is a just attribution, considering:

Even though the importance of investing in a strong customer experience is recognized almost across the board, reasons for doing so vary greatly.

Last month, Econsultancy teamed up with Adobe to study the leading focal points for customer experience investments in 2015 by surveying over 2,000 client-side marketers. They found the number one driving force of CX improvements is to make the experience “as personalized and relevant as possible” – which motivated investments for 33% of respondents. A focus on making the experience “as valuable as possible” came in a close second – driving 29% of investments. Other drivers included consistency, reliability, fulfillment, speed, and mobile performance:

Drivers of customer experience investments

Other CX-related findings of the 2015 Digital Trends Report show:

  • 78% of those surveyed ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that customer experience was a differentiator for their business.Customer experience as a differentiator
  • Customer experience was identified as the single most exciting opportunity for marketers, with 20% of respondents identifying it as the most exciting opportunity in 2015 (personalization came in second, at 16%).
  • A cohesive long-term strategy was identified as the most important building block for building an exceptional customer experience, followed by a cross-team approach and skills combining digital marketing with analytics and technology.
  • 44% of marketers identified customer experience/service as their primary differentiator over the next five years, followed by product/service quality (28%) and product/service choice (9%). Only 5% identified price as their leading differentiator.

Do these perceptions of customer experience match your own? Let us know how customer experience factors into your 5-year plan and what’s motivating you to provide an exceptional CX.

SurveyMonkey Customer Care infographic

Do Customers And Businesses See Eye to Eye on Customer Care?

Lately, we’ve talked a lot about what Customer Love means to us and to the many brands using Apptentive. But what about the other side of the equation? Do customers feel the same love?

Our partners at SurveyMonkey dived into this very question by surveying more than 1,500 consumers and businesses on their perceptions of customer care.

The bad news? Most customers believe businesses prioritize profits over customers, even though 75 percent businesses say the customer is their number one priority.

The good news? Tools like Apptentive and SurveyMonkey to collect customer feedback make it easier than ever to identify problems in customer care and increase overall customer satisfaction. Even better – the companies that take the time to measure customer satisfaction at least once a year were found to be 32 percent more likely to report higher levels of success than those who don’t.

Check out the surprising results of SurveyMonkey’s research in the infographic below:

SurveyMonkey Customer Satisfaction Survey

Customer Love

What Customer Love Means To Me

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Love.

In Business, this word isn’t used often enough. It’s an emotional word, full of pressure, expectation and questions that most companies aren’t yet focused on answering:

  • Will customers really love us?
  • Can we really expect that they’ll care about us when we’re not around?
  • If we aren’t loved, how could we possibly hope to change that?

However, at Apptentive, we talk about Customer Love so much we even have a hashtag for it: #customerlove

Customer Love is the key to our approach to our customers, our business and our team. It’s something we strive for every day, because we view love as an act. We know that we have to invest our energy and time in truly demonstrating our love for our customers, to make sure that they feel our care and attention on an ongoing basis.

We’ve written about our thought process and framework for the customer experience before, so the concepts here aren’t all brand new, but this is how I think about delivering on our promise to our customers. It’s really all about the L.O.V.E when it comes to the key actions that are necessary to really deliver Customer Love:

Listen:

Every great relationship is a two-way street. Unfortunately, too many companies really shy away from this approach to their customer relationships – they talk at, but don’t listen to customers, leading to huge communications gaps. When companies truly invest in listening, across the entire organization, they are able to glean insights and learn more about where they should be going next with their product, service and business.

In addition, true listening means that you’re letting your customers feel heard. It’s natural in business that not every customer is going to agree with you 100%, but that’s understood by customers. At the very least, when they complain or make suggestions, what they’re hoping for is to be heard and understood. Listening is a tool in making customers feel loved because it gives them the knowledge that their opinions matter.

Observe:

Observation is a crucial trait in understanding the people around you, the teammates you’re working with and your customers. When you observe their behavior in your app, with analytics and log files, you’re able to make conclusions about what is interesting to customers and whether or not your assumptions are correct.

Observation is also about identifying what is truly important to your customers. When you watch how they spend their time, really understanding their lives and their needs, you can build better solutions to their problems and challenges. When you and your organization move to a mode of behavior that’s deeply invested in understanding your customers, your observation skills are often key to those insights that lead to massive improvements in your product.

Validate:

Validation has a lot to do with how you underscore and invest in the customer’s true needs. When a customer takes the time to tell you what they think, they’re raising their hands and investing in you and your company. It’s absolutely crucial, regardless of their message and thoughts about your company, that you validate them – letting them know that their feelings are valid and that you care. Validation is not about telling them that you’ll do everything they ask for but rather ensuring that your connecting on a level that indicates that you understand they have feelings too. Saying things like, “thanks for that suggestion, we really appreciate it” can go a long way in making your customers feel validated.

Validation also comes in the form of working with your team to take your hypotheses and to share them with customers. Over the past several years, the Lean Startup concept has really taken hold and taught us that when ideas meet customers in an open and accepting manner, products get better faster. The more your team really understands that their work and concepts are for customers first, the more they’ll invest their time in validating their concepts with actual customers to ensure that they’re delivering the best experience possible.

Engage:

The final action necessary for any team that’s focused on Customer Love is that you must truly engage with your customers. This means reaching out and talking with them proactively. Today, too many companies make it hard to reach them and send messages to customers only to drive sales activities.

However, truly loving companies make a point of reaching out to customers to invite conversations, feedback and venting. When you really embrace customer love, your team wants to talk with more of your customer base and creates opportunities for customers to talk with you. Finding the right time and the right place to really reach your customers makes your customer base feel loved and makes it so easy to talk to you that they can’t help it.

Customer Love

Customer Love is A Requirement, Not An Option

The future of the customer experience requires that every company adapts to the changing times and finds new ways to truly earn customer loyalty. Love is the real requirement – if your customers don’t love you, you need to truly invest in the actions that will get them there. Because customer love is an act, not a static place, every company can work to get there and you’ll have Apptentive there, along the journey, continuing to invest in the actions that have gotten us here so far.

Tinder icon

You Had Me At #SwipeRight: What Tinder Can Teach Us About App Engagement

The Tinder Love Score Results

Like it or not, online dating is an increasingly large part of today’s matchmaking, with over one third of marriages in the U.S. resulting from online dating. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we thought it was fitting to take a moment to share how mobile has changed the dating scene and what we can learn from the success of Tinder and other dating apps when it comes to designing with engagement in mind.

For those of you not among the 50 million users who swiped right to find a date on Tinder in 2014, Tinder is the matchmaking app developed by IAC setting the online dating world on fire. Its premise is simple: Tinder syncs with your Facebook account (your photos, your likes, and your friends) to provide a glimpse into your compatibility with nearby singles. As you browse through photo after photo of potential matches, you can play ‘hot or not’ with photos alone or dive deeper by checking out who you know in common and what Facebook pages you both like. By ‘swiping right’ on a potential match’s photo, you’re effectively saying “I’m interested” – and if they swipe right on yours, you’ll be ‘matched’ and you can begin messaging that user within the app. By ‘swiping left,’ you’ll never see that user on Tinder again and move on to the next photo as you ‘keep playing.’

Interesting enough concept. But online dating has been around for years. What is so unique about Tinder that’s given rise to a new phenomenon of sore thumbs and “Tinderitis” due to its sheer addictive power. How has Tinder been able to achieve explosive growth when so many other dating apps have come out short?

The answer is by building incentives for engagement within the core of the app’s functionality.

Leading the Way in Mobile Customer Engagement and Love

Combining the best of first impressions, gamification, and flattery, Tinder has quickly become one of the most engaging apps in the market. Back in October, a company representative shared some astonishing engagement statistics with the New York Times. Accordingly, Tinder-ites log on to the app an average of 11 times a day. To put that number into perspective, two of the most frequently used app categories – weather and news – are opened an average of 3.7 and 5.2 times a week, respectively. Even more astonishing, women spend as much as 8.5 minutes swiping right or left to potential matches during each session while men spend 7.2 minutes – adding up to 90 minutes of Tinder each day.

In our own holistic evaluation of the customer experience, Tinder walks away with an impressive Love Score of 62 – showing the app to rank 10 percent higher in “Customer Love” than comparable lifestyle apps, with 47 percent of all reviews falling into the 5-star category. The Apptentive Love Score™ is an amalgamation of an app’s performance across five categories: App Store Ratings & Reviews Popularity, Reviewer Quality, Reviewer Bias, Customer Sentiment, and the Ratio of 5-Star Reviews to Total Reviews.

Recognizing Engagement as a Critical Business Driver

While online dating is a naturally addictive category, Tinder reaches significantly higher levels of engagement than competing lifestyle and dating apps – and that’s all credit to how developer IAC designed an engagement framework within the very core of the app.

There’s an undeniable allure to Tinder. You have an album full of nearby singles at your fingertips. While some call it superficial, Tinder was designed to replicate real-world dating. You don’t have a personality quiz or access to everything from dietary restrictions to astrological sign, like you do in some competing apps, to gauge a fit. You just have a photo, a first impression. Tinder leaves the rest up to you to figure out.

Except in contrast to trying to pick up a match at a singles’ bar, in Tinder, there’s no need to build up the nerves to talk to someone, no expensive drinks to buy to help you make that first introduction, and no awkward pick-up lines (okay, maybe some). Simply swipe right and Tinder’s engagement framework will take care of the rest. You’ll get a push notification or in-app alert every time you’re ‘matched’ with another user and every time a match messages you. Each alert lures you back into the app – out of curiosity, excitement, or whatever it is. The result? A highly engaged customer base that can’t help but open the app 11 times a day.

And it’s only getting more engaging with each iteration.

In June of 2014, IAC sought out ways to make Tinder even more engaging, introducing the “Moments” feature to Tinder. Using this Snapchat-like feature, users can share photos with their matches – who can then like the photo as an easy conversation starter. Moments are only visible for 24 hours – providing yet another reason to check into the app on a consistent basis.

And just last month, Tinder made its first acquisition, buying out the ephemeral photo sharing and messaging app Tappy. Tinder co-founder Sean Rad commented on the ‘acqui-hire:’ “We’re growing and recruiting like crazy. It’s incredibly difficult to find talented people to join us fast enough to keep up with our roadmap for 2015, which includes some ambitious plans. When I spoke with [Tappy co-founder] Brian, we found that our goals for two separate products were such a great match.”

While Tinder has yet to reveal its plans, speculation has it that Tinder will effectively hire the Tappy team (while shutting down the original Tappy app) to continue building out its ‘Moments’ messaging feature. The Tinder team is well on the path to taking the leap from a dating app to a social network, incorporating the best engagement features of Facebook messaging, Snapchat photo sharing, and online dating into a single platform.

Tindering Up Your Own Engagement

We’ve already seen that an engaged audience is a loyal audience – and with that loyalty, comes increased retention and an improved average revenue per user. So what lessons can we, as app developers and marketers, take away from Tinder’s success?

First, don’t expect engagement to come naturally. You’ll need to proactively promote engagement by laying in place all the tools your customers could possibly need to see value in interacting with, and frequently returning to, your app. This comes down to developing your app with customer experience and engagement in mind. Whether this means building in peer-to-peer messaging, incorporating prompts and alerts (that don’t suck), or providing a channel for collecting feedback within the app comes down to the needs of your individual customers.

Second, frequently step back and look for ways that engagement can be further improved. What signals are your customers sending? How are they using your app, and how can their experience be improved? For Tinder, this came down to introduce ephemeral photo sharing and social networking capabilities. For your app, your answer may lie in listening to the voice of the customer.

Regardless of what your unique solution is, the key takeaway here is that engagement should not be seen as something outside of your control. Customers can only engage with an app if there’s something inherent that calls them back again and again to see continuous value in your app.

For tips on improving your app’s engagement and customer experience, download our free guide on improving your mobile app’s Love Score. In this guide, you’ll see tips for both acquiring and retaining mobile customers by optimizing around each of the five metrics included in our proprietary Love Score methodology.

App Marketing Conversations

Predictions for Loyalty & Mobile Apps in 2015

Check out the latest installment of our App Marketing Conversations series to hear Robi Ganguly of Apptentive, Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ by TUNE, and Ryan Morel of GameHouse discuss a few predictions on where loyalty, retention, and mobile apps are headed in 2015.

If 2014 was the year re-engagement started to become possible, 2015 will be the year it becomes a commonplace strategy for mobile apps.

Loyalty and retention are only getting more important as differentiators and revenue drivers in a crowded app store marketplace, and in 2015, we can expect to see some clear winners emerge from those brands taking an early lead on prioritizing their customers.

Interested in seeing our last year’s predictions as well? Check out what we had to say one year ago. In our next installment, we’ll revisit our 2014 predictions and report back on how accurate we were.

Transcript:

Robi Ganguly: Good morning. Happy 2015. Welcome to another App Marketing Conversations. As always, I’m joined by Ryan Morel from GameHouse and Ian Sefferman from MobileDevHQ. I’m Robi Ganguly from Apptentive. We made some predictions a little over a year ago, and we’ll have some recap episodes for you to link to where we can talk about how those predictions went. This year, we’re going to do the same thing, and we’ll break it up into a few categories. This category of predictions is going to be about loyalty and mobile apps and what that looks like in 2015.

Let’s kick this off. Do you think that loyalty continues to be important, Ian?

Ian Sefferman: Yes.

Robi: Okay. Why is it important?

Ian: Well, you know, I think… As we’ve seen before… First of all, at the high end of the market, a lot of those apps have saturation, and now they have to build loyalty or retain loyalty in order for them to actually be successful. At the low end, I think proving your unit economics first and foremost is really important before you get scale.

Robi: Would you care to make a prediction? You know what? We’ll come back to you. He says loyalty is still important. Do you agree with that?

Ryan Morel: Yeah, yeah, of course.

Robi: Do you think that the importance has shifted? Has it changed over time.

Ryan: No. I think it’s getting more important, partially because of what he said at the high end, at least on the high end of the market from an app perspective and number of users. You either have to have a lot of users who are loyal and pay a lot, or you have to have a smaller amount of users who are extremely loyal and pay you even more. If you look at the charts how we ended 2014, they look very similar to how we ended 2013 and 2012. That’s about loyalty. If you can’t break into those charts, which it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to, even breaking into them at the bottom end will be important.

Robi: Right, right. I think what I would add is I absolutely think loyalty is super important, and I think that last year’s prediction around retention started to actually be proven true in 2014.

The thing that is also interesting is that the growth is still massive in mobile, but it’s stating to slow. Instead of seeing a steepening of the curve, we’re starting to slow because we see mainstream penetration of mobile devices. What that tends to mean is that acquisition efforts are not enough. When it’s growing exponentially, everybody can continue to acquire, because there are new groups of customers coming online. Now, we’re starting to see that slowing, and it’s more and more important than ever to start thinking about how you can get your customer base to help you with that acquisition effort. Because you’re now competing against more and more people in a market that’s growing more slowly.

When you think about loyalty and you think about retention, that aspect of word of mouth that comes from your loyal customers becomes more and more important to your acquisition efforts, and it becomes more and more important to everything that you do from a marketing and monetization perspective.

So, we let you think about this for a minute. Now, I’m putting you on the spot.

Ian: Yeah.

Robi: Prediction.

Ian: I think my prediction will actually be around how loyalty comes into play. I think that it’s going to be continued importance or increased importance on re-engagement. We sort of saw 2014 as the year where re-engagement almost became possible. Like, re-engagement campaigns really sort of took foot. I now see them as a primary driver and use case for an app and for part of an organization within the app.

Robi: That makes sense, that makes sense. How about you, Ryan?

Ryan: I will give two predictions. One, I think re-engagement, but mainly to the next level like dynamic re-engagement, being able to match an individual user to an individual ad impression, being able to deliver a content experience that matches that person. For example, you were playing Clash of Clans and you have a thousand coins left. There’s no technical reason why you can’t show an ad saying hey, Ian, you have a thousand coins left on Clash of Clans, come buy this. I think that’s one thing.

Two, I think we’re going to see the cost – everyone’s talking about the cost of building startups is this – dropping dramatically, and I think we’re going to start to see a reversal of that, specifically for apps. Because people need to build loyal users immediately, and you can’t build a loyal user without a really high quality app experience. So, I think we’re going to see that cost come up in order to meet the growing demand of consumers wanting fantastic experiences.

Robi: Yeah, that makes sense. My prediction around this is that… You talked a lot about the advertising aspects and some of the games, the quality aspects there. I think that loyalty has long been bread and butter for consumer brands, and they’ve had disparate programs. In fact, if you look at the largest companies in the world with consumer presences, they often will have things like a credit card with loyalty points. They might have their own shopper card. They might have a third party that actually helps them participate in other ecosystems of loyalty.

I think what we’re going to see is the companies that have been doing loyalty offline or on other channels are going to start trying to take those practices to mobile and see if they can translate them or at least connect them and bring that data into their mobile experiences. I think this year you’re going to see a bunch of first steps in that direction with a lot of missteps along the way. I suspect that there are going to be probably at least half a dozen to a couple dozen companies that as they try to go do this seek press around it, talk about it, and then you don’t hear about it except for months later because it’s kind of died. Because it’s relatively complex to make that transition, especially with the speed that mobile is growing with.

What we’ll see by the end of the year is that some of the people who are winners actually start with their mobile customers first and then work backwards for their loyalty programs. That’s my long winded prediction. All right.

Ryan: How do you think Apple Pay impacts that?

Robi: I think Apple Pay this year will not really be incorporated into loyalty programs. Because this year for Apple Pay, and we’ve talked about this a number of times, is the year where what they’re trying to do is get coverage at enough places to purchase and then enough apps are using it also to power their commerce. The work to actually connect it with loyalty activity and the work to actually get the hardest thing, get Apple on board with you and connecting the data so that you can get access to their data and then power your loyalty systems, I think that’s too far off. I don’t think that’s going to this year.

Ryan: Okay.

Robi: Would you…

Ryan: I have no idea. It was a curious question. I just know that the more that I use it, the more valuable it is to me. I think from a non-app perspective, you’re loyal to a few places, and not having that loyalty connection is a problem for some folks.

Robi: Yeah, absolutely. Anything else we should be chatting about with these predictions? I think it’s pretty straightforward.

Ian: Yeah.

Robi: So, stay tuned for the next two sets of predictions from these very intelligent gentlemen, and then we will also link to last year’s predictions so you can see how we did. Thanks.

Want more App Marketing Conversations? Check out the next segment on the GameHouse blog.

Customer Relationship Management

A Holistic Approach to CRM

We just wanted to take a second and share a cool infographic from our friends at Salesforce Canada explaining the value of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and the customer lifecycle.

This graphic hits the nail on the head when it comes to our mission of powering customer communications, and we’re proud to integrate with existing CRM platforms like Salesforce’s Desk.com to make it easier than ever for brands to build relationships with their customers.

Click the graphic for an enlarged view, or read the full story here.

A Holistic Approach to CRM

In-App Surveys

Best Practices in Mobile Research

The Apptentive Guide to Mobile Research Best Practices

The following is Part 3 of our three-part guide on mobile research and in-app surveys.

Before you set out to work on creating your own mobile research instruments, we wanted to provide a few best practices that we’ve discovered with the help of our customers. These are proven tips for creating effective mobile surveys optimized for response rates, customer experience, and the collection of actionable insights.

Best Practices: Survey Design

When designing your mobile research instrument, do:

  • Design with mobile in mind
  • Keep questions brief and concise
  • Allow customers to opt out at any time
  • Aim to address your research objective with as few questions as possible
  • Limit the number of options for multiple choices
  • Break the questions up so that only one or two appear at a time
  • Provide an ‘Other’ field with a textbox for fill-in answers to your multiple choice questions if you suspect that some respondents may have answers you had not previously considered
  • Add an option for ‘Don’t Know’ or ‘Not Applicable’ for questions that some respondents may not be able to answer
  • Pre-test your survey internally to identify any weaknesses and ambiguity

And don’t:

  • Create overlap in multiple choice responses. All responses should be mutually exclusive
  • Present rating scales with large matrices of options or questions ones that require scrolling on a mobile screen
  • Create vague responses that are open to the interpretation of the respondent (i.e.: If asking about use frequency, give tangible options like ‘twice a week’ and ‘once a month’ rather than ‘often’ or ‘rarely’
  • Frame questions in a way that leads the respondent or creates bias (i.e.: “Why do you like this app?”)
  • Request personal information at the start of the survey as this may lead to lower response rates. If you need this information, make the questions optional and move them to the end of the survey

Apptentive customer communication

Best Practices: Survey Integration

For best results integrating your research instrument within your app, we recommend you:

  • Use an in-app survey rather than directing mobile customers to a web survey so as to not detract from the customer experience. If you are using a web survey, be upfront about asking customers to leave the app for an external link.
  • Use event-based targeting that isn’t intrusive. Don’t immediately ask new users to take a survey, and only ask customers to take your survey once rather than asking each time they load an event.
  • Integrate the survey with your existing customer analytics to allow you to target the responses against your audience segmentation to uncover trends based on loyalty, device, etc., without having to ask customers to fill out additional questions.

We hope this guide helped, and we wish you all the best in your mobile research endeavors! Of course, this list contains just a few of our favorite tips. Please help us grow this list by letting us know in the comments below what tips worked best for you and what you’d add to the list.

Want more best practices and help thinking about your in-app surveys? Sign up for an enterprise plan for unlimited access to our dedicated customer success and support teams. We’ll work with you to create a plan specifically for your mobile app and research needs.



Revisit the highlights of this three-part guide on Slideshare:

Mobile research best practices from Apptentive

CES logo

CES – The Challenge of Customer Communications in the IoT Era

I recently had the opportunity to represent Apptentive at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and wanted to share a few observations from the event that left a lasting impression and an indication of the expanding role of customer communication in an increasingly connected world.

On CES

First impressions? CES this year was HUGE.

CES 2015 hosted over 170,000 industry professionals from all reaches of the globe and celebrated innovations in every area of consumer electronics. The four-day conference took up over 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space at the beautiful Cosmopolitan Hotel on the Vegas Strip and had over 3,600 exhibitors – including a record number of startups.

Apptentive at CES

Apptentive’s Red Russak and Robi Ganguly presenting on customer engagement at APPNATION, this year recognized as an official partner event of CES

The theme of this year’s conference was “The Internet of Things,” (IoT), and I’d say that’s a pretty good way to categorize the eclectic collection of gadgets we saw – from smart pacifiers, to high-tech roller skates, to Edwin the Duck.

CES boasted a “who’s who” of tech innovators. From big brands like Tesla showing off an entire selection of self-driving cars to overseas startups selling designer selfie sticks, every minute was full of humbling sights and memorable experiences.

Red Russak at APPNATION / CES

Apptentive’s Red Russak sharing ideas (and food!) at APPNATION’s Startup Garage

On Customer Communication, Our Own Awesome Customers, and the Best Party on the Strip

Amid all the chaos of dodging connected cars and drones galore, there were three prevailing observations that made a noteworthy impression.

First, an overarching appreciation for the customer experience is here to stay. Brands didn’t come to showcase the latest and greatest innovations. They came to deliver a spectacle, an experience.

Throughout our many conversations, one theme reigned supreme: Companies are looking for customers to love the brand, just as much as they love the product. They understand that it’s more important than ever to talk to their customers and understand their needs and pain points rather than innovating for innovation’s sake.

CES proved that anything can be a connected device, from toothbrushes to rubber ducks. The big question, now, is how brands can break through the noise to effectively communicate with their customers in any sort of consistent manner – let alone provide an omni-channel experience. Customer relationships are getting harder to maintain as the proliferation of new technology continues to clutter the customer experience landscape. It’s paramount that brands think about how customer insights can be collected and shared across devices in order to build a product that customers not only want, but love.

The 3,600 exhibitors in attendance proved that product is no longer a sufficient differentiator. In order to really stand out, you need to build a strong customer brand perception into the core of your development, messaging, marketing, and ultimately, engagement. In 2015, the importance of maintaining a focus on the customer cannot be underestimated.

Ravi Ramkumar at CES

Ravi Ramkumar (left) with friends of Apptentive at our Customer Appreciation Dinner

Second, CES reminded me of why I’m in the business of customer communications. Talk about customer love and reciprocal loyalty – our incredible customers made a point to carve out time from their hectic conference schedules to visit our suite, share their feedback, rep our product, and proudly don our t-shirts. Our customers and key partners alike gave us an amazing reception at our customer appreciation dinner at Jaleo Las Vegas – over the best tapas in Vegas, no less!

So to all of our customers I had the privilege of meeting at CES and APPNATION, and to all of our customers I hope to meet at future events and Appy Hours, thank you.

Microsoft Party at CES 2015

Thanks for a great party Microsoft – Can’t wait to see how you guys top it next year!

And third, I want to give a shoutout to our friends at Microsoft for hosting the best party in Vegas, hosted by Tiesto himself! Thank you for topping off the CES experience with c-suite executives raging in backpacks and startup tees.



Overall, I had an incredible experience at CES and APPNATION. My only regret is not having enough time to play with the gadgets and meet the incredible entrepreneurs behind them.

But, hey, there’s always #CES2016.

In-App Surveys

7 Steps to Creating Effective In-App Surveys

The Apptentive Guide to Mobile Research & In-App Surveys

The following is Part 2 of our three-part guide on mobile research and in-app surveys.

In working with thousands of mobile developers on collecting mobile customer insights, we’ve learned a thing or two about what works – and what doesn’t work – when it comes to designing an effective in-app survey. We believe mobile research is an incredibly powerful tool for improving communication with your customers, and have made it our mission since day one to help brands create Customer Love.

We’ve therefore highlighted the steps of one of our favorite survey design roadmaps to help you think about what’s involved in creating surveys that will both deliver the data you need and enhance the overall customer experience.

1. Pick Your Survey Tool

We have an obvious bias here, but the very first thing you need to consider is your choice of survey tool. This includes both the decision of whether to use an in-app survey (like Apptentive) or a web survey (like SurveyMonkey) and the decision of whether to make your survey platform in-house or seek out a third-party solution.

We’ve done our best to highlight the pros and cons of each of these options below:

Using an In-App Survey Tool

Pros:

  • Allows for a frictionless customer experience as customers never have to leave the app
  • Dramatically higher response rates when compared to web surveys
  • Easy to integrate into points of engagement within the app (‘mobile moments’)

Cons:

  • May require additional engineering time to integrate into your app

Using a Web Survey Tool

Pros:

  • Several very established survey and analytic tools available to choose from

Cons:

  • Lower response rates
  • Requires your customers to leave the app to take the survey
  • Branding and the customer experience are often less cohesive between the app and the externally hosted survey

Using an In-House Solution

Pros:

  • Unrivaled flexibility

Cons:

  • Very resource-intensive in terms of developer time and money
  • Necessary testing of, and updates to, the survey tool may take time away from your product roadmap

Using a Third-Party Solution

Pros:

  • Turnkey solutions available with reporting tools and dashboards
  • Access to existing documentation on best practices for customer success

Cons:

  • Requires some developer time, depending on ease of SDK integration



2. Determine Your Research Question

Before jumping into designing your survey on your chosen tool, take some time to identify a single concrete research question that you hope to answer with the results of your survey. This will provide a benchmark for your data analysis and can help to keep the survey short and concise if you constrain yourself to asking only those questions necessary for addressing your research question. (We’ll provide more on why shorter is better when it comes to in-app surveys in Part 3 of this guide.)

Research questions are generally classified as either attitudinal, behavioral, demographic, or technical. An example of a research question for each of these categories can be found below:

  • Attitudinal: How do new users like your app?
  • Behavioral: How do users interact with your app? What are the most common use cases?
  • Demographic: Which age bracket is your app most popular with?
  • Technical: How can this app be improved?

Once you have carefully selected your research question, several of the remaining steps will come naturally – including your target audience and the type of data you need to collect.

3. Identify Your Survey Audience

It’s now time to determine which customers are best suited to honestly and accurately address your research question. Once you’ve identified the customer segment, you can begin to seek out pain points within the app where the survey will provide the most value to both the customer and your team.

Common mobile research samples include:

A Sample Generated With Event-based Targeting

Our Recommendation!

Delivering your in-app survey to customers who engage in pre-specified ‘mobile moments,’ i.e.:

  • The third time a customer uses the Search function
  • The first time a customer shares content via the app
  • After a customer updates to a new version
  • After a customer uses a new/beta feature

Advantages:

  • Can be used to address narrow, feature-specific research questions
  • Can be used to refine and beta test new versions and rollouts
  • Respondents inherently have familiarity with the app event they’re providing feedback on
Disadvantages:

  • Resource-intensive, unless using third-party mobile engagement solutions since activity is a necessary condition of the sampling selection


A Random Sample
Randomly choose a percentage of your mobile customers to survey.

Advantages:

  • Diversity of responses makes the data highly representative of your overall audience
  • Surveys can be prompted even if mobile analytic capabilities do not collect information on customers and customer activity
Disadvantages:

  • Sample may be too broad to address narrow research questions that require a high level of familiarity with the app
  • Responses may be too generalized to uncover trends based on customers’ familiarity with the app, device used to access the app, etc.


A Sample of New Users
Customers prompted during their first time using the app.

Advantages:

  • Allows you to collect information, unbiased by existing loyalty, that can be used to improve the customer experience and retention
Disadvantages:

  • Requesting customer information from first-time users may create a negative initial experience with the app, and has been shown to be a leading factor in app exits


A Sample of Loyal Users
Prompted the n-th time a customer opens the app or a few months after installing and regularly using the app.

Advantages:

  • Can be used to uncover which features loyal users find the most valuable / what is bringing them back to your app
  • Can be used to gather suggestions from those already familiar with those apps – and customers can be further delighted if those suggestions are acted on
Disadvantages:

  • Responses may have an upward bias and have difficulty capturing equally important negative experiences with the app


An Opt-In Sample
Instead of identifying sampling criteria, let your customers proactively navigate your menu to find ways to voice their feedback.

Advantages:

  • Survey can be easily integrated as a link in your app’s navigation with no third
    party tools or prompts
  • Least intrusive – avoids potentially annoying notifications and prompts
Disadvantages:

  • Can lead to selection bias as those who opt-in may not share fundamentally different views/attitudes than those who do not opt-in
  • Opt-ins have the lowest response rate and the survey link can be difficult for potential respondents to find, making it hard to create open dialog with customers


4. Design Around the Research Question

When it comes to writing the actual questions for your in-app survey, start by asking yourself what sort of data best addresses your research question. Some research questions (particularly attitudinal) lend themselves to quantitative questions and rating scales. Others (particularly technical) are best addressed with qualitative, open-ended questions.

Survey questions can be classified as open-ended, closed-ended, or mixed. We’ve done our best below to address the use cases of each classification and their ability to address your anticipated needs:

Open-ended (i.e.: Providing a textbox for the respondent to type his or her answer)

  • Exploratory in nature
  • Less likely to result in bias from leading questions/response choices
  • Provides qualitative responses similar to a focus group
  • Can be time-consuming to answer, particularly when using a mobile device, leading to lower response rates

Closed-ended (i.e.: Multiple choice questions and rating scales with pre-defined response choices)

  • Can provide both qualitative and quantitative responses
  • Questions typically take less time to answer and experience higher response rates
  • Questions and response construction requires more care remove bias

Mixed (i.e.: A multiple choice question with a fill-in ‘Other’ option)

  • Allows room to write in answers that were not considered when the survey was designed – may uncover new customer needs/sentiments

For more on quantitative vs. qualitative questions, and their use cases, check out this post by our friends at SurveyMonkey.

5. Integrate Into the Mobile Experience

In-app survey event targeting

Now that you’ve determined your audience, the next step is to identify where and how to reach them within your app. If you’re using event-based targeting, seek out mobile moments in the customer journey – points of engagement where customers may feel happy, frustrated, or lost. Concentrating on these moments allows you to hone into a single part of the customer experience and can lead to more actionable results if the feedback directly relates to the point of engagement.

When prompting your in-app survey, be careful to not interrupt or annoy customers in the middle of a task. For example, if you want to ask about the in-app shopping experience, prompt your survey after checkout instead of after a customer adds an item to his or her cart. Remember, your survey should be designed to add value to both you and your customer.

If you’re targeting new customers, give them time to try out the app before prompting your survey. A ratings or feedback request upon first log-in is a sure way to create a negative first impression.

And finally, if you’re using an opt-in sample without any sort of prompt, insert a link to your survey into a logical place in your app’s navigation menu – such as the Help or Contact section.

6. Pre-Test Your In-App Survey

Before making your survey live, it’s important to pilot the survey internally or with a small sample of customers. This allows you to ensure that your survey is working as intended and identify any weaknesses or ambiguity.

While testing your survey, check that the following items are in order:

  • Questions proceed in the intended order, and responses are mapped to the appropriate next question or prompt if conditional branching and skip logic are in place
  • Questions are easily understood by those unfamiliar with the survey
  • Response options are clear and do not contain unintentional overlap
  • Optional and required fields are appropriately coded
  • Responses are accurately collected upon completion

After you’ve tested your survey and are satisfied with the results, we’d recommend resetting the response count so that the test data does not interfere with your actual results. You’re ready to push the survey out to your intended audience.

7. Analyze the Results

By this point, you’ve launched your survey and have collected a statistically significant number of responses. Now it’s time to dig into the results of your labor.

Data analysis should be a straightforward process for those quantitative questions directly mapped to your research question. We recommend going through each question individually and asking yourself whether each result confirms or rejects your hypothesized answer to your own research question: Are the result of customer rating scales consistent with what you’re seeing in app store ratings? Has your latest version update improved customer sentiment? Do customers feel comfortable navigating your interface and new features?

In the case of qualitative questions, you may need to do a little more work to get meaningful and generalizable data. For open response questions, we recommend categorizing the responses into themes – such as feature requests, usage or interface questions, customer testimonials, and customer complaints. You can then search through your results for the most common trends and begin to incorporate these insights into your product roadmap and QA efforts.

As a last step, decide whether you want to keep the survey running or close it. This is often a matter of saturation (if you already have the sample size you need and additional responses provide little value) and relevancy (is your research question still a priority, or is there a new question worth asking in a separate survey?).

We hope these seven steps will help kickstart your in-app survey design. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you create your next survey and keep us updated on how customer insights shape your app.

Continue on to Part 3 of our guide on in-app surveys and mobile research, or preview our section on best practices on Slideshare:

Mobile research best practices from Apptentive

Apptentive logo

Getting Started With Mobile Research: Why It’s Important

The Apptentive Guide to Mobile Research & In-App Surveys

The following is Part 1 of our three-part guide on mobile research and in-app surveys.

According to a recent survey by Mblox, brands and their customers rarely see eye to eye when evaluating the customer experience:

  • 73% of brands believe they truly care about their customers, while only 36% of consumers agree with this sentiment.
  • 67% of brands believe their mobile communication methods meet or exceed customer expectations, while only 47% of their mobile customers are really satisfied with the brand’s mobile communications.
  • 86% of consumers are open to mobile brand communications, while only 58% of brands use mobile to engage their customers.

There’s a clear disconnect between brands and consumers. But it’s easy to see why: Brands base their perception of the customer experience off of the ratings and feedback provided by a very small proportion of their customers. Less than 1 percent of mobile customers take the time to write a review. But don’t confuse silence with satisfaction. For every one unhappy customer that makes his or her voice heard, there are 26 silent but equally unhappy customers – 91 percent of whom will leave your app and never come back.

So how do mobile publishers reach beyond this vocal minority for a more accurate assessment of the customer experience? By giving customers a voice with in-app surveys.

Improve the Customer Experience with Mobile Research

The Benefits of Mobile Research

In our experience working with app developers around the world, we’ve found in-app surveys to be an incredibly powerful tool for conducting mobile research and improving customer communications.

If done right, in-app surveys take the guesswork out of your mobile strategy. They provide a mechanism for dissecting a customer’s experience with your app and give them a voice to express suggestions and critiques. In turn, these insights can be used to re-shape the customer experience landscape.

With in-app surveys, you can:

  • Open up communication with your mobile customers to gauge how they like the app, identify pain points in the customer journey, and test the demand for proposed features;
  • Identify customer segmentation trends for targeted messaging and advertising;
  • Improve mobile retention and customer loyalty by engaging your mobile customers and incorporating their feedback; and,
  • Circumvent negative app store ratings by addressing customer issues before they make their way to a public channel.
  • Extend your sample size with in-app surveys that dramatically outperform web, phone, or email surveys when it comes to response rates.

We hope that this introduction helped demonstrate the importance of mobile research as you plan your 2015 roadmap. Over the next two weeks, we will continue this series with a few tips on how to set up an effective in-app survey and some best practices we’ve discovered with the help of our enterprise customers.

Continue on to Part 2 of this guide to begin designing your in-app survey, or check out highlights of the complete guide on Slideshare:

Mobile research best practices from Apptentive

Welcome to Las Vegas

Meet us at AppNation & CES!

AppNation in Las Vegas

Team Apptentive is headed to Vegas!

Robi Ganguly, Red Russak, and Ravi Ramkumar will be representing Apptentive at APPNATION VI and CES January 5-9. We’re excited to meet and learn from leaders in the mobile community and share the creative ways we’re helping great customers improve mobile engagement and earn Customer Love.

As such, we’re putting together a customer appreciation dinner, and members of our team will be available for meetings throughout the main conference schedules.

Executive Dinner

Monday, January 5, 2015
7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

If you’re an Apptentive customer or in talks with our team, we’d love to invite you to dinner at Aria’s Julian Serrano. Savor tapas and huevos estrellados at one of Vegas’ premier restaurants with Apptentive CEO Robi Ganguly and the company of a few of our current customers and team members.

This is a a great opportunity to share your thoughts on the current state of mobile engagement, meet with key members of our team you have spoken with, and provide us feedback on how we can help you with mobile customer happiness.

Spots are filling up fast, and we’d love to save you a spot. If you’d like to join us, please contact Kelly Long at kelly@apptentive.com.

Schedule a Meeting

Want to meet up but can’t make the dinner? Drop us a line, and let’s grab a drink!

AppNation at CES

About APPNATION:

APPNATION is the largest conference and exhibit in North America focused exclusively on the business of apps and the broader consumer app economy. The theme of this year’s event is: “Discover. Acquire. Monetize”. APPNATION reaches the full long-tail of app developers and publishers from the cool indies all the way up through the largest brands and companies in the world. APPNATION is not a technical conference as our sole mission is to help app developers of all shapes and sizes build great businesses through inspiring keynotes, topical roundtable discussions, and deep-dive workshops that deliver actionable advice and best practices.

MOVING TO CES
Why is APPNATION moving to CES? This is a win-win as it is a great opportunity for our conference to be an official partner event of CES and a great opportunity for developers of all shapes-and-sizes to meet their peers at APPNATION but also have the opportunity to engage with the global consumer electronics industry as CES attracts over 160,000 attendees and thousands of hardware and content companies as well as leading marketers and ad agencies. As you know, virtually all consumer electronic devices will ultimately be “connected” and this is a unique opportunity to bring the global connected device, content, marketing, and consumer app communities together to network, develop partnerships, and explore new business opportunities. And, it’s Las Vegas, and that’s always a plus!