Successful SaaS businesses rely on having an engaged customer base. The higher the engagement the more likely those customers are to be happy, successful, and remain loyal to your business long term. But if it was that easy keeping customers engaged, every company would be taking a turn on the Fortune 500 list. So how do you actually go about keeping your customers as engaged as possible? Here are best practices to drive your customers to success.

What’s the Difference Between Customer Engagement and User Engagement?

Before we get into why customer engagement is so important to the success of your business, what’s the difference between “customer engagement” and “user engagement”? These terms are often used interchangeably, and the definition of “customer engagement” is essentially the same as “user engagement”, other than the distinction of who is a “customer” versus a “user.”

Some companies think of the customer as the one who made the purchase decision, whereas the user is the day-to-day user of the product, who likely reports to that buyer. The term “customer engagement” is also often used in businesses that have a more hands on, high touch relationship model. These businesses tend to have a smaller number of higher value customer contracts, which enables them to dedicate more resources to each customer. Customer interactions will tend to have more human to human contact. For example, customers may receive in-person or phone-based support, as opposed to a self-led, virtual support model. But whether you call it “customer engagement” or “user engagement”, it’s the engagement that’s key and the concept applies to both customers and users.

Why is Customer Engagement Important?

There are more companies competing for customers’ budgets and attention than ever before. At the same time, attention spans are getting shorter. Customer engagement is part of a larger User Success strategy designed to help you fully understand how your users are engaging with your product to provide them with a personalized experience that helps them become evangelists. To succeed, you need to keep your customers happy and make them feel valued. The best way to do this is to engage your customers regularly, through a variety of different touchpoints.

While the definition of engagement will vary depending on the type of product that you have and the nature of its use, you can’t afford to ignore engagement. Customers that aren’t engaged are less likely to value your product and are more likely to churn (and become customers of your competitors). Conversely, engaged, happy customers will provide valuable feedback to help you improve your product, will advocate for your brand, and will refer new customers to grow your customer base. So how do you make sure your customers are engaged and happy?

Ways to Increase Customer Engagement

Here are a few ways that your team can increase customer engagement and nail your product roadmap.

Announce new features

As you improve your product, use product announcements to celebrate new feature releases. This is a good way to re-engage customers who may not be as active as they once were and remind them of the value your product provides. It’s important to understand how your customers prefer receive information, whether that’s over email or in-product, so you can help make sure these key updates are actually being seen. The goal is to educate your customers on best practices for using new features and give them a heads up on any other changes that have occurred or are upcoming for the product. New features are a great way to get customers excited about your product.

Use in-app surveys

Surveys are a powerful tool for gaining actionable feedback to improve your product while engaging your customers. They also show your customers that their input is valued and help identify any customers who may be unhappy and in need of extra attention from your team. The most effective way to survey your customers is right in the app, at the moment when they’re experiencing the aspect of your product that you’re seeking feedback about.

Surveys presented to users in-app are more likely to be completed than, for example, a survey delivered by email, which requires that the customer find and open your email and then recall exactly which feature or experience you’re asking about. Both the response rate and the quality of responses are higher if you survey your customers in-app. This means that you’re driving even higher engagement with your customer base.

Use customer feedback to validate your roadmap

In addition to in-app surveys, you can also empower your customers to make feature requests right in your product. This is another great way to engage your customers and show them that their opinions are valued. As customers submit more than one feature request, ask them to prioritize their requests. This approach gives you more insight into what features are most important to your customers (while also setting the expectation that they can’t have everything at once) and engages customers by making them feel ownership in the process.

Segment customer feedback (and follow up)

Modern SaaS companies need to understand the individual users, champions, and decision makers behind their accounts. It’s important to track every individual user’s unique relationship to your product and business so you can unite your teams around a deep understanding of your most important users. As you receive feedback from your customers, it’s important to understand which customer segments gave you which types of feedback.

As you prioritize feedback from key segments, close the loop with those customers as their needs are addressed, particularly if the feedback suggests that they are dissatisfied. Customers who receive this direct follow up are more likely to feel valued and to believe that their concerns will be addressed, ultimately increasing engagement and reducing the risk of churn.

Crowdsource feedback on shortlisted feature requests

As you start to see trends in the types of features that are requested, you can identify a set of candidate features for prioritization. You can then target appropriate user segments to see which features are most important to those individuals and how the features should be prioritized along the product roadmap. We don’t recommend letting customers vote on just any feature request, but once you’ve identified the features that may make sense for the roadmap, you can use customer feedback to prioritize them.

Use data to make informed decisions

As you receive feedback from your customers, it’s important that you trust what the data is telling you. Feedback data is supposed to be a representation of what’s valuable to your customers so your team doesn’t have to rely on anecdotal feedback or make assumptions about the financial impact a new feature will have on your business.

Don’t overvalue a single source of information (e.g. one user’s feedback, one NPS survey or one graph in your analytics platform), as these are just inputs into a complex equation. Instead, create a single system of record for capturing user insights across the entire customer journey, surfacing any unmet needs, indicators of risk, and opportunities for expansion. The ultimate goal is to build the best product you can and the one that will deliver the most value to your customers.

Customer Engagement Best Practices

Beyond the specific best practices outlined above for using customer feedback, there are some broader principles that you can follow to ensure you’re doing everything that you can to keep your customers engaged and happy.

Understand the entire customer journey

Think about your customers’ experience with your company holistically, from start to finish. Beginning with marketing, through the sales process, to onboarding, the product itself, ongoing support and even billing. These are all important touchpoints with your customers that will inform their opinion of your company and your product. Implementing playbooks can also allow teams to create repeatable, scalable strategies to drive engagement at every stage of the customer journey. If you invest in making sure that each of these touchpoints puts the customer first, they’ll reward you with their loyalty and help build your brand.

Make a strong first impression

First impressions matter. It’s important to have an attentive CSM for onboarding to keep customers feeling engaged and valued right from the start of their experience in your product. Happy customers will provide valuable feedback to help you improve your product, advocate for your brand, and refer new customers.

Consider using a tool such as FullStory to watch your users go through the first day experience to understand where they may be getting stuck. See which steps in onboarding take the most time, because more time is an indication of frustration and confusion, increasing the risk that your users may drop off during the process. These may seem like micro optimizations, but in the aggregate, the impact is much greater. That initial experience makes your customers feel better that your product is worth their investment of time and money.

Personalize your communications

Your communications with your customers, from marketing, to onboarding, to billing and support, are all a chance to strengthen the relationship. Personalize your communications, address customers by name and keep the tone friendly and engaging, rather than robotic and cold. You can further personalize by using key event triggers to send your communications. For example, if a customer has just completed onboarding, you could send a “Nice job, Liz!” email to celebrate that first milestone.

Consider also assigning someone on your team to each customer, so that more often than not the customer hears from the same person. This will make customers more likely to view your support team as a real relationship, rather than a group of faceless people.

Respond to customer interactions

Depending on the nature of your business, you may not be able to have a human respond to every interaction. But don’t let your customers feel like their communications and feedback are ever going into a black hole. If they’ve just submitted a support request, let them know that they’ll be hearing back in a certain amount of time and direct them to some FAQs in the meantime. A customer should never be left hanging without an understanding of when an issue will be resolved or an interim resolution that they can pursue on their own.

Make customers feel like you’re accessible across channels

Different customers will want to interact with you through different channels, so you should make sure to listen and respond across multiple channels. Providing easily accessible and searchable support content will often allow your customers to find the information that they need on their own, but they should know that they have a way to reach a human when they need to.

Whether through email, in-app chat, or social, make sure that your customers feel they can easily reach you. You may have built a robust support flow in a certain channel, but you should listen on these other channels so that you can shepherd users into that appropriate flow.

(Actually) Act on customer feedback

Your customers’ feedback is one of the most valuable resources for building a great product and business, but only if you act on it. As outlined above, use feedback data such as priority of request, customer cohorts requesting a feature and crowdsourcing more detailed input to build your product roadmap. Then actually go build your product based on that feedback. Finally, be sure to announce new features and thank the customers who submitted the feedback or feature requests.

Proving to users that you take their opinions and perceptions seriously is one of the greatest ways to reduce churn. The transition costs of transitioning from one solution to another are high. So even if your product doesn’t have all the critical features that users think they need today, if you’ve built a relationship and they’re confident that you’ll evolve the product, they’ll stick around. xx


Every touch point a customer has with your product is an opportunity to improve their experience and impression of your company. The more you understand your users and their relationship with your product, the easier it is to keep them engaged by providing genuine value to their daily workflow. At the end of the day, the success of your customers is the success of your business.