What is really at stake when someone subscribes to your app

When fast and done is what you need

Have you ever been in this situation where you need something done fast and efficient?
Every day, right?
Last month, I was wrapping up all the loose ends in my business before going off to holidays with my kids. And I had this one client who I needed a signature from on a quote.
It was the perfect time to start using one of these cool apps helping us with that. You know, you upload or draft your document and you’re able to track opens and all and also ask for an electronic signature.

Experiment with proposal tracking online software

My requirement was: upload my already done document (in pdf) and make it so that I could email a link to my client for him to sign it electronically.
I estimated this task should take about half an hour to complete, provided I may have to try a few different apps.
Well, it turned out I vastly underestimated the time and number of apps required. I tried 5 differents apps, meaning opening 5 different accounts along with giving some of them my CC details just to start a trial.
This is the perfect course to build up irritation in a massive way :)
It was a “hands-on” experience that will beneficiate my clients, and that I want to share with you who build or sell apps.
I will go through a few points worth tweaking to mitigate the hassle anyone trying a new app is going through.
I don’t want to name names here, just highlight where things can be bettered.

We should never forget the state of mind of people trying our app for the first time

They’re in a hurry, they need the task at hand to be completed fast. We may be the third or fourth app in a row which they have to create a new account for.
This is were onboarding and being very clear on what our user can do or cannot, how to accomplish the very first basic task is paramount to our user sticking with us or not.

This is how my journey to proposal tracking apps commenced:

Why are you asking for my credit card details just to be able to register for a trial?

I don’t really mind, but it slows down the stream of actions you need to perform before actually doing what you came for. This means: “Ok, they want my CC. How will it be stored, is it reasonably secure? How am I going to cancel my account if I can’t use the app, etc..”.

With this app, when finally I’m in, I can’t find a way to upload my document.
OK, done with this one. Go to account. Cancel. And here everything is wiped off. No going back —which I tried later on, out of despair.
Had my account still be available, I would have gone through the hassle of re-creating my doc…

Welcome email could be a great place to nudge your user to perform the next task

I had some very nice welcome email with an embedded gif to show how to upload a document. But I already had done this.
Before sending a welcome email, it would better to check if a task has already been performed. No document uploaded yet, then time to include that piece of content. Already had an activity on the account, then send the next sensible thing to do.

Well tested UI is under-regarded

Two of the apps I tried were failing at the same task: importing my document and/or adding the electronic signature widget.
The interface was kind of unusable. I even tested a few other browsers, to no avail.

Failing at giving a reliable info on the state of your task

In this particular case, I am asking my client to use a third-party app which is acting on my behalf. eg: click on a link leading to a probably unknown domain, view a document, sign it off.
Some apps didn’t provide me with a link I could send to my client with my own email client.
Some other sent confusing transactional emails, sometimes several emails hit my inbox about the same event.
This tends to bring fear and doubt. What happened ??? What mistake did I make? I don’t want to spam my client with garbage email.
If your app needs to send an email to your subscriber’s client, it should be very clear and maybe ask for permission before effectively sending it.
And you should test your transactional emails thoroughly to make sure they are helpful and reduce anxiety.

End of trial email are great place to rescue the relationship

I received a notification to informed me that my trial was ending, saying “we hope that all goes well”. In fact, regarding this particular app, I did not use it at the end.
Running a Saas company means that the activities of a particular user are known info.
If you monitor closely the trial periods, you can identify inactive users and prompt them to perform at least one easy action before they get cut off.
So you get one more chance to convert your subscriber to a paying customer.

When on the phone with customer, have them talk

One of the apps I tried had a team who was willing to go out of its way to start a conversation with the customer.
I received a call 5 minutes after starting my trial when I was clicking away to discover how to make my doc signable.
I kind of hijacked the call to help me with that which was nice! Unfortunately, that didn’t solve my problem. Meaning “one more fail attempt. Go find another app”.
But the caller missed the opportunity to make me talk about why I chose the service, what was I trying to do…

Then again, I was called by the same person 2 days before my trial ending. But still, no plan to make me talk how I used the service and the problem I was trying to solve. And no trying to gain me back either.
If you’re having a customer success team who is calling people, a good way to ensure you get the info needed to drive up your paying customers’ number is to have a well-defined script with specific questions like:
what problems your subscribers are struggling with?
What prevents them from becoming paying customers?

I hope this small piece will help you avoid some of the pitfalls looming around customer onboarding, lifecycle email, and customer support.
I will really appreciate any feedback you have on this. And as always, if you have any question about this, just email me.