Thinking you know your customers will no longer cut it when it comes to delivering a top-notch customer experience. To create the most compelling differentiated experiences, firms not only need to know their customers but also understand what their customers care about most. 

Siqi Chen, Heyday cofounder and CEO, gets this. The "effortless journaling" app goes the extra mile to deliver a seamless delightful experience — particularly for first-time users "where there aren’t obvious motivations to invest," in Siqi’s words.

I had a chance to sit down with Siqi in advance of his keynote session at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West to talk about how Heyday competes on experience in the competitive mobile playing field. Hear more of Heyday’s story next month in Anaheim, California, November 6th to 7th.

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

A: We focused on the customer experience from the inception of the company. As a mobile company, the way our customers interact with their devices is intensely personal. We run on a device that is the primary computing device for most people, a device that is with our customers physically for most of their waking life and a device that our customers interact with in the most intimate way: through touch. Because of this, great products on mobile devices require a very high bar for attention to detail and emotional value, in addition to the foundations of speed and value delivered that every great product requires.

Q: What aspects of the experience that your company delivers matter most to your customers?

A: We spent a lot of our time and attention on the first-time user experience. In a world where millions of apps are a few taps away, products are granted a very small amount of attention from customers to prove themselves and deliver value out of the box. We think a lot about how we can do this the first time our customers engage with our product, when there aren't any obvious motivations for customers to invest. For example, starting with a blank journal if you've never used Heyday before can be discouraging. We spent a lot of time to deliver a premade timeline of your life using all of the data we have access to, even if you installed it for the first time. 

Q: What if anything is different about what you're doing now to improve customer experience versus what you did when you were starting out? Why did you change?

A: When we first launched, we invested a lot in responding to direct customer feedback. One thing we learned from this is that oftentimes the customers who are writing you the most represent a small minority of customers. As a result, a lot of these feature requests have relatively small impact despite the volume of feedback. Recently we've been focused on making sure our investments are targeted to the broadest swath of our customer base, through a combination of renewed focus on data analysis and direct outreach.

Q: How do you measure the success of your customer experience improvement efforts (e.g., higher customer satisfaction, increased revenue, lower costs)? And have you seen progress over time?

A: Our primary metric is simple: Do customers who use our product continue to use our product? There's no more direct measure of satisfaction than this. It doesn't rely on active polling or qualitative feedback and isn't susceptible to biases like selection or social pressure. We have seen a tremendous amount of progress operating against this metric over time in the past year — it's a very difficult and slow metric to move, but the returns are exponential and sustainable.

Q: Where do you think your industry will be with regard to customer experience quality in five years? Will it be a race to the top, on average about the same, big winners and big losers, or . . . ?

A: On mobile, the customer experience bar won't be going down any time soon, which means that craftsmanship and attention detail are going to be table stakes for new products. This will result in a demand for new and better tools to make it cheaper for organizations to deliver great customer experiences on mobile, and it will result in simpler and simpler products. It's a great time to be a designer and a maker.

Want to learn more? Join us at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West, November 6th to 7th, in Anaheim, California.