User Engagement, You’re Doing It Wrong

In running an online business building bridges with your users is a great thing, but you have to make sure it’s a two way bridge, otherwise it’s pointless.

Before we moved to our new payment processor 2Checkout we researched which payment processor could provide us the value we’re looking for. After some googling we found a tons of companies, some well-known and others minor players in that market. Although we already chose 2Checkout because it offered the best deal for us at the time, we stumbled upon one very interesting service, so I decided to give it a try and signed up.

They’re young startup, and I liked this service form the beginning, everything was so simple and user friendly, but unfortunately it was available only for US and Canadian based businesses, and because we’re located in Europe it was out of our reach.

Everything went fine, great first impressions, and after couple of days I started receiving emails from the founder asking me why I haven’t activated my account, and offering his help if I needed something related with my account. Although I knew this is an automated message I respected their time and dedication, so I replied with an explanation of the whole international thing, and asked him some other questions I was interested in. I know how founders busy can be (I’m founder myself) so I didn’t expect immediate reply.

But something unexpected happen, there was no reply on that email, instead I received email “disconnected” from the first one, again with instructions how I can start with collecting payments in just 60 seconds. I knew this was another automated message, and I wasn’t so surprised, as this message automation is known tactic for user engagement and communication. So I said to myself “OK, not a big deal, probably he didn’t saw my first reply”, and I practically copy-pasted my previous reply. What was encouraging in this message was the statement that his email address is for real and I should “feel free to respond to this email”, and he would “love to hear from me”. Finally I bravely hit the send button.

And… his reply was …(cricket sound)… you can guess it, nothing. But don’t worry their automated emails had no problem finding my inbox. So again in the third email he offered his help, and again stated that this message was send from real email address to which I can respond to. Yeah right, I’m not going to bite this time. My reply this time was somewhat harsh stating my two previous emails and the bad communication policy they’re doing. I don’t know why I bothered sending the last email, knowing from experience that it’s probably a waste of time. And “surprisingly” it was a waste of time, but I received fourth and last automated email from him, asking me for feedback, in which I briefly stated that they don’t accept international merchants. With that, all their unsuccessful user engagement finished.

I don’t want to sound too critical and I’m not going to tell people how they should run their business and what’s best for their business, but some of them should really start to care for their users even the one using their system for free. Let me tell you this, because of our one-on-one live support which you get only with our invoicing service Invoicebus we managed to fix critical bugs, and added super features, all in all we brought Invoicebus at a greater level.

If you’re planning to engage your users with email messages, and offering help or even leave your phone number (I’ve noticed some CEOs do this) you should expect some of your users, to actually reply or even call your phone in case you provided one. So if you’re on the other side running a business, my suggestion for you is to reply on the emails and take the calls. You’ll be surprised how well people will react if you assure them there is another human being behind all that pixels on the screen. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is in the world of the online services.

Photocredit: Salim Virji

Dimitar Stojanov
Dimitar is co-founder of Invoicebus, an online invoicing tool for easy invoice management. He's passionate about creating beautiful and simple web applications and occasionally writes on this blog about web design, online business, and fighting the status-quo. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
Dimitar Stojanov
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  1. Exactly, customer support should be the core feature of every product/service.

    If not done properly, bad user engagement easily becomes a matter of reputation management (fortunately for them, you haven’t disclosed which company is being discussed here), but you get the point.

    • Yes, exactly, there are brands build on top of customer support service. And I didn’t disclose their name because I really like them and I’m gonna give them another chance. But they really should put some updates online just to know that their service is alive, because right now I’m feeling quite lost where are headed.

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