In the world of cloud applications, getting and keeping customers is first, second and third priority. Because our business model is monthly recurring revenue, customer churn means that our precious lifeblood is trickling away. Understanding your customer experience can help you create strategies to improve your customer experience to plug those holes.

Even if you aren't actively analyzing your user experience you should be collecting data that will enable you to formulate strategies and answer important questions when you're ready to. You can roll your own or lean on existing platforms like UserSignals where you can get started for as little as $25/month.

1. You can't fix a problem if you don't know where it is.

If you aren't tracking your user experience and each user's journey then you simply won't have the data to evaluate theories or answer questions about how, what and why something happened. If you aren't tracking everything that happens between when somebody creates a trial account and when they close their account, you lose a lot of information about what might have happened and what their experience was.

Customer success is holistic. Quantifying every step of every user's journey empowers us to answer (or at least start to answer) a lot of questions from a factual position and provides information that is valuable to every part of your organization, not just your sales, marketing or customer success teams.

Tracking user experience can help answer questions like...

  • Did they encounter browser errors that you didn't anticipate?
  • Were pages loading slowly?
  • Did they get stuck or confused or frustrated somewhere in the site?
  • Did they spend time with each of the sections/features that are most important for onboarding and 'getting' your product?
  • Did they come back after their first session or on consecutive days?
  • Where did they go, how did they get there and what did they click on?
  • What actions did they take in response to your campaigns, onboarding, sales or otherwise?

2. Frustrated users don't usually give feedback, they just leave.

Most users won't bother to send feedback if they encounter friction while trialing your product. If they run into serious friction or things don't work right they'll probably bounce over to your competitor's website. Because they haven't yet bought into what you're selling or your vision they don't feel the need to take time to send you feedback.

Maybe they ran into unexpected errors that caused your app to not work (I see this happen a lot in cloud products), unbearably slow load times or simply didn't spend enough time in your app to discover the sections of your app that appeared to solve the problem they wanted to solve. Without being able to follow their journey you're stuck guessing what went wrong.

Automatically tracking every step your users take is helpful because it provides you with data you can analyze to better understand what happened and create strategies to improve onboarding success and increase retention.

3. Knowing what your users did helps you make informed decisions.

Knowing which features/sections your users are or aren't using should influence everything you do.

This is why we originally built what became the foundation of UserSignals. We own several complex SaaS apps and struggled to understand exactly how our users were interacting with them and what features they had or had not yet discovered. We needed an easy way to segment our users by their in-app activity that would work for any app without requiring additional development, customization, support or maintenance within the app.

We needed to be able to answer questions like...

  • Are we supporting features that aren't being used?
  • Are users using new features from recent updates?
  • Are users discovering the features in your system that are crucial to closing deals?
  • Are they interacting with the features that will produce revenue?
  • Do they regularly interact with our marketplace or just our news feed?
  • Is our current revenue strategy viable?
  • Are there common patterns/behaviors in trials who become subscribers?

4. In the wild, software works in mysterious ways.

No matter how much in-house testing you do, things will go wrong once your product is in the wild where you don't have any control over the settings, devices, browser extensions, internet service and so on that each of your users is running. Every user represents a unique combination of settings that could make things go awry ... fun!

Automatically capturing these issues and correlating them with the page they occurred on and the user's ID, device type, browser, OS and so forth makes tracking down what went wrong much easier. If you're not tracking them you won't even know that something went wrong unless one of your users mentions it and if it works when your team tests it then things get dicey.

5. User behavior is unpredictable.

Because predicting how users will respond to changes, new features or campaigns is challenging at best we created the ability to add vertical 'markers' to UserSignals charts which can denote any significant event, update or campaign. This way we can visually measure the impact of an event, even if users aren't sending feedback. We can apply these markers to metrics like daily active users, average page speed, browser errors and so on.

Markers make it easy to see how significant events affect user behavior:

  • Did the number of errors increase significantly after an update?
  • Did average page speed change significantly after an update?
  • Did active users increase after a marketing campaign?
  • Did active users increase permanently after a marketing campaign?