How to build, scale, and engage a user community to prevent churn and increase retention

Emily Lonetto | Head of Growth

  • | Acquisition | Activation | Customer Success | Engagement | Psychology | Retention
  • October 2019
  • EP32

Engage your community

Work together with your community to prevent churn

Today on Churn.fm we have Emily Lonetto. Emily is the Head of Growth at Voiceflow

In this episode, we talked about how Emily landed her role as Head of Growth at Voiceflow, Emily’s experience in community building, and how she scaled the ambassador program at her previous job at Tilt.

We also talked about why community is vital when it comes to churn and retention, things early-stage startups need to get right to start building a community and how to manage the community effectively. 

Emily also shared her insights on product onboarding, including her most successful onboarding project, her main inspiration in designing a new onboarding flow, and tips and tricks to design the perfect onboarding.

As usual, I’m excited to hear what you think of this episode, and if you have any feedback, I would love to hear from you. You can email me directly on Andrew@churn.fm. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Mentioned Resources



Emily’s personal product stack and how she selected it 00:02:40
The history of Voiceflow and how Emily got her role as the Head of Growth 00:03:55
How Emily built and scale Tilt ambassador program amongst the community of college students 00:05:12
Things early-stage startups need to get right to build a community  00:07:56
The impacts of community in churn and retention 00:16:18
Tips to manage a community effectively when you’re an early-stage startup 00:20:58
Emily’s most successful onboarding flow project  00:26:34
Emily’s most important tips and tricks to design a great onboarding flow 00:29:36
What would Emily do to turn a churn situation in a startup in the first 3 months 00:36:39


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Emily Lonetto

Head of Growth

Emily’s recommended resources on churn
What Emily is reading right now

About the podcast

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In the real world tackling churn and increasing retention is one of the hardest problems a subscription business faces.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.


Andrew Michael
Hey Emily, welcome to the show.

Emily Lonetto

Andrew Michael
it’s great to have you today for the listeners. Emily’s a growth advisor and speaker and currently the head of growth of Voiceflow. Voiceflow allows you to design prototype and build voice apps for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant of yours and more all from within the browser. Voiceflow had an explosive growth and launched in 2018. And now so 15,000 designers, developers and creators, and he’s also the founder and co organizer of growth Toronto, the largest community of growth and product practitioners in Toronto, with 2500 members and counting. So I reached out to Emily after reading a tweet where she stated that product retention is that true product retention is when an employee switches to a new company and brings your product with them. So on Emily’s personal tech stack, she listed sketch web flow segment amplitude Zapier and superhuman. So my first question for you is Emily is like, what does a product need to get on your list? And why have these products pass the ultimate validation of product retention?

Emily Lonetto
I think I think for my personal list, and I’ll just like caveat that where everyone’s list probably be different. But at least for me, what I look for is a product that scales and is really adaptable to whether it is part of my personal tech stack, so help me to optimize my own workload or my own life. Something that provides scalable value for the team that I’m implementing it for. And in that tech stack, you can pretty much tell like I’m not using segment to like, track events of my actual personal life, whereas superhumans probably making me better at responding to even some of my more personal stuff. And but definitely that scalability and justice, seamless, really, really good UX. And I think those are probably the core things that I’m looking for.

Andrew Michael

Yeah, and I think another way of looking at the list of tools in a lot of ways that make you superhuman, they give you powers that you didn’t really normally have. So especially like thinking about segment segments and Zapier, like you don’t need to be super technical to be able to sort of implement and have technical workflows running for you. So again, with superhuman, an email really sort of supercharged in your experience around it. So talk to us now currently, your head of growth, advice flow. What is it you did voice flow? Maybe one just give us a little bit of an overview.

Emily Lonetto

Yeah, so I been involved with Voiceflow well as an advisor in their early stages when they actually started as a company called Fable, which was an interactive children’s story made on Amazon Alexa. So they actually started off as an Alexa app, and ended up scaling and realizing that there’s only so much growth that you’re going to get. And this is a conversation I had with them early on, if you’re bound by your own UGC. So what ended up happening was they ended up pivoting from making their own children’s stories, which is kind of hysterical when you find out that there are four guys, all of which who don’t have kids who just really wanted to solve this problem, and two story flow, which enabled copywriters, the parents that they had built in this community, and that love their app, as well as any form of author anybody else that really just wanted to make a story and make that possible without very much code or any heard it all. And that soon pivoted to voice flow, which then that was when I decided to come on, come on full time as their head of growth to help them now build out their product line growth strategy on how can we build the ultimate tool stack for people who are now designing, developing and building really awesome things in the voice space. So making that more accessible, but also, you know, building new ways that we can actually interact with voice, whether that’s in the apps that we know and Alexa or Google, or even beyond and interfaces, accessibility design, and much more in the future.

Andrew Michael

Yeah, definitely. I think it is the way that sort of interfaces are evolving and voices coming more and more important. I also find it very interesting, like the story. It’s always interesting to see how people sort of pivot and that way they started out like designing kids stories to building an app that you can actually design, prototype and build voice apps is really incredible, and it’s probably a very, very smart pivot on this. behalf but you said like people building some amazing things with voice flow, like what are some of the cool like voice apps that you’re seeing being created at the moment?

Emily Lonetto

Honestly, I think like the most rewarding part of my job actually is engaging with the creators that love the product and are so vocal about what they’re building. And it’s honestly so exciting to kind of see, because boy, slow. It’s a canvas tool, similar to a lot of design tools, where it’s really up to whoever is going in to really create a lot of those things. And someone like myself might make something entirely different on one product versus somebody else. And one of the really exciting or a few of the exciting projects that I’ve seen more recently kind of come out is anything from seeing a dad who built a personal Alexa app for his son who just got diagnosed with diabetes, to be able to ask, Can I eat this and ask actual questions about the food that he was given snacks and get access to all that information. So He doesn’t feel intrusive or that he can ask those repetitive questions, which is super cool. And that’s like a really awesome is amazing at home use case. And that was built by a father, not a crazy developer or somebody who had immense background and voice. And that’s really exciting. And then you also see, you also see companies who are coming on board and maybe have been in the VR space. So for those of you who aren’t familiar with IBM, that is that kind of experience that you get when let’s say you call your bank and you have to press one or nine and it gets you to a certain point, everyone’s favorite thing. And we see people like that, who are able to come on to our platform and use us to help design out what that looks like make it easier to actually prototype or test out what that could look like without having to use some of the more antiquated ways that they had been building previously, like Microsoft Word or Excel.

Andrew Michael
Very cool. Yes, I can imagine you see loads of different use cases. And I think you’ve touched on it a little bit. But it’s something that we spoke about just briefly before the call. And when it comes to the power of community. So I’d like to touch on your experience a bit here, because I know you have experienced from your past tilt, and then again at partners taken out voice flow. And I think this is something we haven’t spoken enough about yet on the podcast when it comes to the impact and the power of community on turn and retention. So I think like if maybe we could get started is talking through some of the things that you’ve done when it comes to building communities. And what are some of the tips you get started? So let’s maybe jump to tilt, and maybe you want to walk us through give some quick overview of what tilt is, and like how you went about building the community there?

Emily Lonetto
Yeah, absolutely. So tilt was an easy way for friends to send request or split payments between friends. And very similar to for those of you out in the state, similar to kind of n Mo, where you can kind of send a request in between individuals. Or also made it really easy for you to kind of use a Kickstarter mentality behind let’s say group, group activities or group expenses. So instead of your one organizer friend having to, let’s say, Buck up 1000, or a couple thousand dollars to like, get that cottage to get you guys all together, they could set it up in a risk free way where it would only quote unquote tilt or charge people when it got to a certain number. So there’s a lot of use cases around that.

Andrew Michael
You started out with university students. Yeah,

Emily Lonetto
yeah. So one of the big growth leavers for us, especially with the community was starting in with university and college students is like that is one of the strongest communities and one of the strongest, most strongest, like ephemeral experiences that people have, but it continues to live on with them. And that is dangerously present when you talk to people and they are very in love with the alma mater or what a faculty they were a part of or what clubs and At tilts, that was a huge part of our strategy were in the States, it started off with going after, for instance, warranties to kind of get them on board and try to be able to align with the Greek community and scale rapidly through that. So getting their socials on board and getting them to use tilt to collect for the various events they were holding, which would then in turn, get everyone else that was part of that product already on board. So it was naturally quite viral. And then more greatly, and this is where I think community really, really helped us grow is when we went International. And in this case, so I can speak definitely to what we did on that scale, where, let’s say moving into Canada, for those of you who are unfamiliar with how it works out here is France and sororities are far less far less prevalent in between every university or college that’s out here. So our target all of a sudden shifted away from being able to very easily Identify Who were these key influencers on campus to? Who can they become? or What does that persona actually look like? So we ended up actually building a very ambitious ambassador program. And which started off with a group of 50 to 200. And the first year so then scaling quite rapidly globally to roughly 10,000. And so trying to actually go in identify key organizers. So club heads, your head of households, your one friend, who was in charge of all the utilities, residences, faculties and really creating like this battle plan of how can we, how can we align ourselves with university communities but then build our own, so builds this awesome community of non transactional users who aren’t incentivized by give 10 get 10 but instead, we’re aligned with the problems that we were solving. So instead of you having to be that one annoying friend who is Consistently asking people to awkwardly pay them back. Now it was more like let the app be annoying for you. So you don’t have to be. And now they can do more of the things they wanted to do and really got on board with what till became. A big thing to note on this too is like till, if you think about it was on was and is a payments app. And there’s like few things that are less sexy than, let’s say, actually paying people back in college. Like people don’t want to talk about that. But through our community in this ambassador program all of a sudden, and all of a sudden, people wanted to be a part of that. And we were able to drive this massive adoption of crazy ambassadors who were our eyes and ears on the campus who were able to now actually help us scale that community. So we had heads of different schools that were elected and they each had their own. They eat We’re helping us scale out at each one of the campuses, we had like an elite squad or tilt mafia, similar to paypal mafia, of all of a sudden, these leaders that were starting to come up within the community, and it was really growing on its own. And it ended up becoming so powerful that me and one other guy on the team ended up actually building a whole micro site that helped actually automate the intake and actual separate onboarding of those ambassadors and teach them how to now not just use tilt, but talk about it on a scalable way. And that became a huge growth engine for us.

Andrew Michael
Very nice. So I mean, you’ve done this a few times now and as well as it voice flow, you have as well like building a really strong community there. What are some of the things that you feel that you need to get right in the early days to in order to build a community that really is going to be sort of advocates and really, like sort of be able to amplify your voice in the market

Emily Lonetto
Seems like a key thing that that people try to do with community. The beginning is number one, like I will preface this with, it’s always great to try to build a community and try to do that. But there are certain products that lend a much easier path towards there are definitely like you see a lot more evangelism and a lot more of strong community voices around products that are extremely like end user focus. So very, even if they aren’t b2b, they’re extremely good at satisfying like the actual consumer. And so that’s like one thing to think about, but in terms of actually starting your community, I think a core thing to really nail down is what type of community do you want? The one that I’m talking about is that evangelist is that advocates style Ambassador community that isn’t necessarily motivated because you have offered them $50 on Amazon to go do an action. So a non transactional relationship is really what you’re trying to build. And the biggest mistake that I see with a lot of companies when they first start To decide that they want a community that they forced that and enforce that with paid, and they forced that with transactional exchanges, when what you really, really want is you want to figure out who are your early adopters, who are the ones that really love your product and want to be aligned with your team. were motivated by wanting to talk to other power users who are like actually wanting to get behind and get that like personal or a different type of dopamine hit other than cash. And the truth is, that’s that’s a lot harder because it’s a lot more manual at the beginning, but I think people really think about a lot of interviewing, talking, and and really trying to connect people and a lot of ways

and also like to say to the upside religious person was maybe not for all businesses, it’s really important to sort of understand that and first figure activities for your business, but then also really trying to figure out what are they going to be those key motivators and drivers that are going to motivate you Want to be a part of this community? But where you’re not incentivizing or you’re not sort of offering a transaction in return for becoming a part of that community? So when we think about like the concept of churn and retention and looping in community into the mix, sort of what are some of the things impacts that you see that a community has unprecedented attention? And in your experience, sort of like, how powerful has it been? For the businesses? You’ve worked with building up communities?

Yeah, absolutely. Like community is such a core. An amazing pillar for us here, here at voice flow and was huge for us across honestly, every company that had been out even at Cleo, which you wouldn’t even imagine would be kind of at the forefront of this massive community of lawyers who are just obsessed with the product. But I think like a core thing that a lot of people kind of forget about with community, and I think this happens a lot with things that are less tangible or things that aren’t nearly as defined channels when it comes to ROI is that to me community is a way of you actually increasing retention and protecting from churn. And the reason being is where I’ve seen all across the companies that I’ve worked at is that community is number one, an awesome way to actually engage your users and have like a pretty steady feedback loop. Number two is always like say, if you’re stumped in, at least for us, like we’re in a new industry, we want to constantly be in contact with the people that are using the tool and trying to figure out the edge cases to help inform our product roadmap in other ways of thinking about this as well on more of, let’s say, even like hedging, and as you can imagine, in startups, there’s a lot of times where things are shifting very quickly. Sometimes things break the reality of how life is and being able to grow this massive community and grow that love and that like strong relationship with your customers where it doesn’t feel like you’re that company, it feels like, Oh, I know this person at x company or I have a relationship with x is you’re actually also building this, like protective hedge for one stuff does hit the fan. And number one, you’ll probably hear about it really, really quickly within your community. And number two, they’re gonna be a lot more patient about it. And which is really, really crucial, especially on early days when you may be a little bit more strapped for cash. Or maybe when like, things are a little bit tight and you’re trying to figure out why are people turning or what’s happening. It’s a really awesome way of even just like logging that and seeing the natural conversations or q&a that happens. And oftentimes what happens when you actually nurture a strong community that way is they start to help each other. And now you become more of this passive observer where you can come in and you can just surprise and delight them. And be able to work with them. And that’s been really, really helpful for us as well, even as like our product is growing globally without us even really being able to having users who are, let’s say, in Japan, as an example, be able to answer questions that come up in Japanese that we can’t. And those are all these unsaid ROI. terms that make communities such a strong meter for retention.

Yeah, I love that. There’s so much in there that you just said now. So I think definitely having the personal equity build up and building that relationship. Making allowing people to be a lot more forgiving is interesting. But I think also what you’re talking to now is really having a community that is like, basically in other ways doing your job for you and allowing you to scale faster. And I love that aspect of sort of like noticing answering question Japanese, which your team probably wouldn’t get to, at least for the next few years. But being able to someone who’s an advocates actually like helping guide others through the process. And even in some ways to onboarding for you is amazing.

Yeah, on the note as well, like we even we have this amazing guy who’s come on board St. Nicholas, and he’s based in Paris. And we hired him to help us with enterprise, enterprise or large CS problems. And he came on because we saw him in our group, answering people’s crazy questions and debugging stuff for them. And like, it also ends up becoming a crazy pipeline for hiring. And that’s one of the things that even I’ve seen over the years, it’s been paying dividends where that that huge group of ambassadors that were once in university and were so gung ho and understood and helped us grow and have now over the years become my interns and have become people that I now see as peers amongst different startups here in Toronto and will definitely continue to be hiring and helping out because that lives far beyond the product. As you can probably imagine, for a lot of cases

Andrew Michael
Yeah. So I think like, this is super interesting from this sense that you mentioned, like building a community, you don’t really see the direct ROI. And I think it’s also one of the things when it comes to churn. And retention is like the churn and retention as a result of so many different inputs. And they just really the output metrics and like a lot of you spoken to now I can see being really valuable input metrics that will push the needle and move it forward. But then on the other side, as well, this I think one thing that’s normally difficult with building a community starts is really, without having that direct ROI and being able to justify expenses, like how do you go about getting the resources and how you go about managing community, from within your company? Like what are some of your tips that you’ve done in the past sec, being small, nimble startups and being able to grab community and actually manage it effectively?

Emily Lonetto
Yeah, I think like the the honest truth is, community is one of those things that I wish you could say is like something that you do on like, the side of your desk, and I the honest truth is, it’s not like it’s one of those things that you you You really do need to be community centric, if you want that to be a meaningful channel for you. And like in the same way that you do that with any channel. And I think like the biggest thing, when you’re a little bit more scrapped at the beginning, which I actually think community is an awesome growth lever for startups that aren’t necessarily like rich with funding or have a bunch of resources, because it does help with all these other things. So justify it based on like having that product feedback loop justify it by understanding that, for instance, an easy way of thinking about that is when someone signs up for your product and in your onboarding flow for emails, like get them or give them a CTA to join the community, if they want to get more involved. Like then now all of a sudden, it’s like part of your funnel. Right? And or there’s other ways where you can also be thinking about it, where community is also exists on other platforms. So how can you pull them in where do you is a platform that will make it easier for you to manage. Think a big mistake that I see with, in particular startups or people who are trying community for the first time is they they go multi platform and they do that from like the get go. Where you’ll see a Facebook group, a slack group, something on maybe on the spectrum, like a discourse in like that is a lot of work. And where it becomes really like malleable and really, like really good for a company is when it’s in one centralized spot where you are able to live where your audiences. So let’s say for instance, if you’re dealing with all developers, like go look at probably like Reddit probably has a lot of them or spectrum because it’s bought by GitHub. Versus like with let’s say, when we were story flow instead of voice flow. We originally went on Facebook because that’s where the parents are, and we want to engage with them there. And same with university students like Facebook was an awesome place for that. We’re seeing with voice flow, Facebook continues to be a really awesome place because you can look for groups based on hobbies, and now actually get people from those groups to join your group and so on and so forth. So there’s a lot of like, awesome ways of thinking about a community and justifying it very loosely for like product feedback for one, number two, on helping for lead generation. And number three, also as a sounding board, which I think is one that a lot of people kind of forget about. But a good example of that being even more recently like notion launch for students, and they rallied their community of people who love that product. And did that via email super easy asked me if they wanted to help them out, like by sharing some stuff on an announcement and and tell us what the announcement was until the day of and lo and behold, now you go onto Twitter that day when it launches and there’s so many people talking about it. And that’s seated organically through community didn’t cost them anything to do that. And it’s the same thing. We did that same strategy with tilt. When we were launching a new feature, we engaged our ambassadors and got them to use thunderclap to like queue up all of their social. So we can try to get everything out at the same time. And even with voice flow where we’re lucky enough that the Product Hunt community and the people that are on there are our target with designers and developers and early innovators. So being able to leverage our community and let them know that hey, check out something like we may be launching new things and like this is where we’re going to do it is an awesome value add. And now all of a sudden, every single time that you launch something new, you’re de risking it with your community, but you’re also it’s a percentage game, where only x percentage of this large community that you’re growing needs to engage for it to be successful.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, I love that. And it’s actually something that we chatted about with Michael Redbord previously on the show, and something that he said as well, which really struck me sort of like in the early days, marketing is your voice but then In a startup marketing is typically the voice but as you become a scale up like your customers become the voice. So I think like starting community very, very early on you sort of nurturing that behavior and you encouraging it. So like you said, like notion now when they’re launching a new product, and I saw that all over Twitter sort of like notion for students. And like, you have these avid evangelist for you to actually sort of amplifying your voice. It’s the ultimate position you can be in as a company. And it’s definitely one of the biggest drivers for growth. And as you said, going forward.

Emily Lonetto
Yeah, absolutely.

Andrew Michael
So the next thing I wanted to touch on a little bit, because I know you have have had quite a lot of experience working on it is onboarding flows. And maybe you want to pick one of the favorite onboarding projects that you worked on the one of the companies and walk us through, like what you did and why you thought it was successful and enjoyed the project.

Emily Lonetto
Yeah, I think actually, like a good example that I’ll talk about the I think it actually like feeds off of the community side is, like I said, me and one other guy built an entire microsite for our testers. And it had a separate onboarding and it had a whole like, it was basically a whole nother product that was built around rewarding and teaching people how to talk about it rather than just use it. So in the same way we were trying to product eyes what our ambassador program had had then become. And so one of the things that I’m like, number one, I’m a huge supporter of onboarding as an absolute crucial sprint that companies need to be spending way more time on. And the biggest reason is that 100% of your users will always hit onboarding, but 100% will never hit your full product. And oftentimes, what ends up happening is you see a fight to win on features or a fight to win on things that we think that people are trying to go in and you us from the day one. Yeah. So, like, not enough people, I think, think about how do you actually curate that first day or that first onboarding experience. And the way that I like to think about onboarding is instead of thinking about it as like this seven day or 30 day process that a lot of people tend to do is think about it more like the lifespan of a fruit fly, or a bucket list, if you will, of what would happen if you had a user for one day and assume that that’s your lifespan. What would they do in that day? What could they actually accomplish? Is there a part of your product that actually gives them a feeling of what I want to like stay away from saying the aha moment? Because in some ways, it’s not just an aha moment, it’s more just like do they see value in it period doesn’t have to be like the core thing that you’re trying to deliver. Like, for instance, in an invoicing tool, you’re probably not going to send an invoice in the first day, which would be like theoretically like the goal of that, but instead like they may be Be able to see like what an actual time track would look like things like that.

Andrew Michael
I think as well, like what you’re saying is very interesting. And it’s like, obviously, like 100% of users are going to go through the onboarding flow. But it’s also the most attention you ever going to get from your users is that first day or that first sort of experience, and like under optimizing for that situation, I think is a huge missed opportunity. sec. People come in, they’re excited about your product. And maybe you can’t get them to that sort of in value that they’re achieving. But really trying to make sure that you’re protecting the psychology and like, pumping them along. Their journey is super critical.

Emily Lonetto
Yeah, absolutely. Like the framework that I like to use with my team is always around video games, actually, because I actually think video games and the design behind them and that UX experience they’ve perfected so much over the years, and is brilliant for onboarding. And if you think about it, as let’s say, like the core things that are in a video game in Day One is you go through like a tutorial. Down at the first beginning where you’re a little safe, you’re not gonna break anything. And you do like one or two things. Like, I was gonna say shit done one or two things a ton of times. And, and, yeah, I said it, I figured you bleep it out.

And a ton of times. Andin basically those are your core actions. Those are your level ones, the foundational actions that make the rest of your product super powerful. And so you start with that, and then now you map out the rest of your features with the rest of your functions in levels. So you could take a look at so for instance, in the example of let’s say, the the tilt thing that I had just said with our ambassadors, like, super easy foundational thing is they probably need to know that you can send requests, send money between friends, but the big thing is that it All revolved around like this UI of this bar that gets filled as people actually complete their payments. So like, there are ways that we can teach them that whether that is through actually showing them what that looks like. So for us in that onboarding flow, we actually had that as your status bar so that Phil does everything that you were doing. So we’re kind of subconsciously telling them that that’s what completion looks like. And, and on the other hand, like we that whole platform was built on points. And it’s a point system and didn’t exist in our actual product. So we needed to kind of explain what that look like. So for every step in that onboarding, we were extremely conscious of letting them know that they got points for completing each one of those things. And at the end, we told them to join our ambassador program, Facebook group and also complete their first purchase on our ambassador marketplace portal and obese and get their t shirt like all the swag they need to just like get started, and this helped us protect the cause. That every single Ambassador than had our swag actually has been on board and educated but also, like helped them learn and get an idea of what the core functions of how they’re going to interact with that Portal was which was you perform actions, you get points and you cash out. And and that was all done within a 10 minute span.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, I love this concept of sort of incentivize onboarding, like really trying to motivate users to take the actions that you know are going to be valuable for them, but then also giving them that sort of extra motivation. We chatted about this, with Jenna from Prague back in the days where they actually use their trial experience as a motivation for to drive corrections within their product, where they actually sort of they want to do, for example, set up a new project, they will give you an extra two days of your trial, or invite a team member another three days. And they really tried to help extend that period that people could trial the product for, by using sort of key actions needed to be taken in the app. incentivizing us actually, a giving them value in two ways. Not only like Do they know what the value of the product is, and they can actually use it effectively, but also having more time more like in your case you so having the swag, and then you know that the time you’ve invested or spending money in these people is really, for people that have gone through the process and seeing the value in your product.

Emily Lonetto
Yeah, and like kind of to my earlier point about like leveling that out too, is like, not everything needs to be done in that first interaction. And it’s also important to think about instead of thinking about onboarding as the 30 day window for them to complete, like this massive milestone, is breaking that down into like, smaller challenges are many levels and starting to add on one extra action that is a little bit harder than those, those early function or level one tutorial stuff that you’re trying to teach them and get them to slowly learn how to get more advanced at that tool. So like a good example of that, in onboarding and I know everyone talks about super human when it comes to onboarding but I’m like On your first day, they walk you through and get your Email Setup on superhuman, which number one, like you’re pretty used to, or most people are pretty used to their email client before they get on superhuman. So they’re kind of like, and teaching themselves a little bit before they teach themselves how to use superhuman, which is kind of cool. And day one is they just want you to learn how to how to archive or market done what’s in your inbox. So you get to inbox zero, so they gave you a really easy goal. And there’s one action that’s going to help you do that, which is like, maybe you’re gonna reply to some of them, but ultimately, you’re going to mark done and then you’re gonna have no more emails in your inbox. So that’s level one. And level two and a few days they’re starting to now actually tell you more things that you can do teach you shortcuts, send you even a game so you can learn those shortcuts in a fun way, even if you don’t have emails in in your inbox that you can kind of play around with. Like these are awesome examples. scalable ways that people are really like challenging what onboarding is, because onboarding isn’t a welcome survey. It is a way that you teach people how to use your product that doesn’t have to be done in one fell swoop.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, definitely see this is a big mistake a lot of people make is really trying to just shove everything in from day one. So I love that analogy. I think like using the TV game isn’t as big as really brilliant and sort of just taking that layered approach that you don’t need to learn everything on the first go, but really trying to add a little bit more levels of complexity as you go through and similar to video games like as you progress through different levels. So does your character become more powerful, you in some ways become superhuman, the more levels that you surpass, even though they do start to get more challenging, your player becomes more powerful. And I think in this case, like your users as they progress that I need to know everything from day one. But the more you learn, and the more you teach them like they become more and more Powerful users of your tool. And I think this is maybe something that we fall short on when it comes to onboarding like you say we think of it as one big project. And it’s like binary and other is or it isn’t. And it’s done or it’s not. But really thinking and taking like a systematic approach to it and really thinking about, like, your users and as game players and how you can craft a an experience around it and show like, on their terms, they’re experiencing your product. They’re learning about your product, and they’re becoming with it, everybody, so I love that. Yeah, yeah. So, Emily, like I’ve a hypothetical question for you. Now. We as you’re running up and Thomas all let’s say that you’re about to join your company, and you’re at this company and Turner attention, just really not doing well. And you’ve been tasked with trying to turn things around, what would be some of the things that you’re doing the first three months of your time at that company to try and tackle the problem.

Emily Lonetto
Think like definitely this comes down to like, there’s very clearly a problem. I think like it poor, poor retention numbers is always like a symptom of a bunch of things. But the first one I would definitely look at is that classic how like, do we have product market fit and that case, probably not. And the biggest thing that I actually like to do when I first start someplace, or I’m a strong believer in and is actually if your onboarding or if people are turning really, really fast after signing up for something is swipe out, whatever automated thing that you have there and make that manual. So that could be like you onboard every single person that comes on. And that’s something that I have always been a strong proponent of, especially when you launch new versions of something or when you’re trying to pick a really big product, but your onboarding shouldn’t just be an assumption or your activation stuff shouldn’t be an assumption. It should be you hand holding or even just doing a mix of Like blind or meta testing, versus you going in and actually having someone walk you through and give them one straight goal, okay, sign up for this thing, okay, now that you’ve done that, like create your first project, as an example, and watching what happens. So I think like the first step would be actually sitting down and trying to get a hold of users, both those that are happy, as well as those that have left and actually try to see and try to categorize what they love and what they did. It’s a very classic product research. And, and then the next, which is a little bit more radical and definitely not scalable, is onboard, as many of them as you can ask, like, by yourself, or try to schedule calls with them and try to actually do that and walk them through the product. Because very quickly, what you’ll realize by doing that is you’ll see the similarities, you’ll be able to record that that is the first thing that you’re going to be automating that that same similar conversation or the same questions. That’s what you need to solve for. So I think like that was Definitely be the core stuff. And in that scenario, always talk to the customer or try to get in front of as many as you can.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, I love that as well. I mean, obviously, talking to the customer is something that we talk about a lot. And it’s mentioned pretty much every time I asked this question, but like as well what you’ve added another layer on top of that is like doing something doesn’t really scale but the value that you’re going to get out of it, like onboarding customers onto your product and really walking them through it, I think it’s a great opportunity because you’re speaking to people in the moment that they’re excited they want to get started but like it’s an opportunity for you to see where the gaps are and like what are the prices you can be automated and what you should be signaling and flagging with customers to automate into processes in the future.

Yeah, like I think I think a big thing as well as just from like scaling companies, as well as like, make that part of your culture. And a big thing that I actually really really like all love but also didn’t love. But it was extremely valuable was a This was something that I saw back at tilt. But I’ve seen it a bunch of different companies that actually make every single person do like an hour a week of like CES or tickets, or trying to talk to people when they’re, you know, in a particular potential churn position. And the biggest reason is you’re not only building empathy with the user, and actually making sure that everyone has that connection, but you’re also building empathy internally. So everyone seems to be more aligned on what’s going wrong in the experience. And how difficult is let’s say, even from like a technical empathy side, so how difficult it is to actually perform a job that you’re not doing, and not doing day to day. So I think that’s also a really awesome example of just like trying to establish that from the get go.

Absolutely. And then so like, I like you the point that that creates empathy not only externally with your customers, but internally, like seeing the frustrations and issues that sort of maybe CSO supports are going through on a daily basis. That could be automated internally. And yeah, and I love again, like sort of that angle of like doing things that don’t scale like personally onboarding, because I think this concept is or doesn’t necessarily need to be applied to onboarding new customers itself. But sometimes, like when you do take bigger product bits, and typically you just roll out with the launch and send out a PA, and then just hope for the best. But, like, there may be cases where this makes a lot of sense. And you don’t take that sort of full lot approach in beginning and you really try to take a systematic approach onboard your customers figure out sort of what are the pain points like what really should be the message when you do like sort of bigger, wider announcements to all of us?

Emily Lonetto
Yeah, well, like I think as well like when you take that approach, especially on big product that’s is like you also want to be able to make sure that you’re matching who’s signing up as much as like they’re trying to find a solution right. So your products may not be the solution for everybody but it may be a perfect solution for A certain segment and odds, let’s say if you want your first line of people who come on your first cohort of people that are using your product, absolutely love what you’re building is, it’s also okay to be selective. And by putting up a barrier, where it’s your choosing who gets in, which is a very classic growth scale tactic, but like making it a little harder to sign up sometimes often also equates to better retention. And if you’re actually picking and choosing the right type of people that you built the product for, or trying to make sure that people are like, are actually trying to solve a problem that you’re creating solution for. Because that oftentimes, the truth is is like people don’t know too much about a whole product until they’re actually in it. And you can assume that they do. So being able as let’s say, a product expert at whatever company that you’re at, and being able to identify like, what were the problems that the solution is great for and then going after those people and being creative about the signup process to see, can you surface do these people match that problem is a good way of also trying to protect your retention number.

Andrew Michael
Absolutely. Just being really focused and systematic about it. Cool. So Emily, I see we’re up on time for the day, just made for DNS sec. How can they keep up to date with you your work? If there’s anything last thing that you’d like to share with us before we end today?

Emily Lonetto
Yeah, absolutely. Um, like, if you’re interested in trying to figure out more on more on the voice space, or if you’re curious on kind of keep in touch. If there’s any questions like, definitely follow me on Twitter. It’s just at Emily Lonetto. And well, Emily Lonetto on Twitter and across LinkedIn as well. I’m happy to chat there. I’m sure there’ll be links available.

Andrew Michael
Absolutely. Very cool. Well, me thanks so much for joining today. Really, really appreciate the time and wish you best of luck going forward.

Emily Lonetto
Awesome. Thanks.