How Data Helped Us Understand Our Customers Better
At Facebook, there’s a well known phrase that goes “Data wins arguments”. I wouldn’t say that at CloudApp we’re a deeply argumentative bunch, but we do like to come up with hypotheses, test them, and see the results.
We need to know:
– Who are our customers?
– What features are they using? And how many times?
– What features should we build next?
We often jump on calls with customers or send out surveys to get answers, but it takes time and getting unbiased answers is hard. People might answer differently when we ask the questions. They might tell us what they think we want to hear without realizing it. Or they might have a hard time pinpointing exactly what they would like to see in the app.
Even if we combine all the above approaches, at CloudApp we believe questions should start and conclude with data. Data can tell us where to focus our limited resources so we can have maximum impact on our users.
Our Work Process
Every week, we meet to present results of the past week and come up with new ideas to test.
Here is how it works:
- What did or didn’t work?
- If it didn’t work, what we think the reason is?
- Present hypotheses of what we should test next
- Present what we think success for this test looks like and how we will track the data
- Start the test
The important thing is to pick small tests. What is your Minimum Viable Test? We are usually crafty for the first test. If we see good results, we put resources into it to fully implement it.
How to Get Started?
Our Head of Product sent an email to all departments with one question: ‘Ideally, what data would you like us to track so that you get better insights into your initiatives?’
Then we come up with hypothesis of what we could improve and start with the ones we already have data on. In parallel, our Product team is constantly working on collecting the right data to have visibility into our users’ experience.
How We Did It
At CloudApp we’ve used a lot of different tools to build our product, measure it, and scale our community. Some of our favourites include Mixpanel, Woopra, and Google Analytics.
One of the most important things in using data is deciding which key indicators or most useful numbers your team should track. In a world of infinite analytics tools and infinite data to track, it can be really easy to measure everything and lose focus.
When we examined the actions of our users within the app, we wanted to know a few things to start out, like:
– How many people are use the app daily, weekly, monthly?
– Which features do they use in the app?
This gave us a baseline to understand how we were doing as a business. Whenever we created a new feature, we made sure to track its usage. Sometimes that new feature did really well, other times its performance fell flat. But we always had a motivation to track our work, see the outcomes, and make sure to focus on the most impact.
How to Get Started?
After you decided on the data you want to see, for example ‘Usage of every feature inside the app’, drill down into the level of details you need: ‘Usage per day, per week, per month’
Then look at different tools that are on the market and make sure it can integrate properly with your tool stack before diving in.
What We Found
For example, we found that people using our annotation or screen recording features are more likely to buy one of our paid plans. Based on the in-app usage, we also knew which features required more education so that we could create content for it. We realized that people weren’t aware of our latest features so we started a newsletter and in-app notifications.
The Danger of Data
When you surround yourself with data, the excitement of bettering the customer experience can result in getting distracted. Sometimes you need to step outside the matrix.
Data rarely reflects the irrational way your customers use your software. If you were to look at the people who had bought your product, you might think “Well I made a great product and it’s really useful, that’s why they bought!” when the real reason is completely different than you expected.
Every time I talk to a customer, I learn something drastically different from what I expected. I love it. The surprising thing is that it’s easy to get bogged down and stuck focusing entirely on data, but sometimes it’s just helpful to chat with someone in a coffee shop and hear what they have to say. It can really open your eyes.
How to Get Started
Look at the data you collected, stay objective, and come up with hypothesis. For example,
What do you see?
People are still contacting Support even after looking at your FAQ. The answer to their question was in there though.
Why are they still contacting support?
Your audience enjoys human interaction -> use a chatbot like Drift on your website so they can engage with you.
They couldn’t find the information -> add a search bar or change the organization of your FAQ. Here are some best practices you can follow.
They found it but didn’t understand -> add a GIF or annotated screenshot to make the information easier to digest.
Quickly test all of these hypotheses on one or two pages and monitor whether the number of support tickets is decreasing. Report on results, come up with new hypotheses. Test and repeat.
Benefits of All This Data
Know What Works
Data helps us celebrate our team wins. We track our tests and report on our successes. We know which initiative improved our user experience and is moving the needle for our company goals. As an employee, it is a great way to get recognition for all our hard work.
It also helps us figure out how to spend our time and budget wisely. We can identify low hanging fruits and tackle them first. The CloudApp mindset is: Prove your hypothesis with a successful test and we’ll give you anything necessary to implement your idea. That’s how empowering data can be.
Focus on What Users Want
Data is the best way to understand what’s going on with your product.
One of the most impactful pieces of customer data for us has come from using a product called Delighted. Delighted lets us survey our customers, understand how they feel about our product, and piece together a quantitative and qualitative picture of our user base. Sometimes data collection over a short period of time can suggest that something is wrong or broken, but through time you really start to get a clear picture of what’s happening.
For example, CloudApp has created an elegant way to communicate solutions with the use of screen recordings. We have several different platforms that we support like Mac, Windows, Chrome, etc. Sometimes we spend a little more time fixing or improving one platform than another. The NPS scores that we get *generally* highlight that we’re headed in the right direction and customers are happy, yet quantitative and qualitative data we get from Delighted helps us stay reflective, open, and focused.
To sum up, data is the best way to understand how your customers are behaving and what you should do to improve your User Experience.
– Get other people on board, make them understand the benefits of tracking data
– While you are working on the setting up a deeper tracking system, start presenting your hypotheses and tests for the initiatives you can currently track.
– To implement tracking, look careful at what you need, how much time or resources the implementation will take and if it integrates properly with your current stack.
– Don’t forget to celebrate your team wins. It also helps with internal buy-in.
– Track only what you need. Don’t get distracted by too much data and talk to your customers to gather qualitative data.