How Customer Success Accelerates Adoption

July 14, 2014 Pam McBride

How do you determine if a customer has “adopted” your service or product? How do you accelerate adoption?

Firstly, your organization should define adoption with respect your product or service. There are features and functionality that are “more sticky” that should influence your definition of adoption. That stickiness occurs when a user can’t effectively perform their day-to-day tasks without it – sure they can actually do their work but it will take more time, effort or both. In other words, there is a direct impact on their productivity when they start using your product and when they stop.

In an article by John Duckmanton, the rate of adoption is demonstrated in the figure below, which demonstrates a typical change curve for the adoption of new technology as an organization moves from its current productivity levels towards the desired target.

customer success

Mr. Duckmanton goes on to explain that there is a dip in productivity initially (point A) as resources divert effort to implement and adapt new tools and working practices. Gradually, as new practices are more widely adopted and people become more proficient with the new tools, productivity begins to trend towards the desired target levels (point B).

Additionally, the article identifies factors influencing the rate of adoption with a direct correlation to the level and duration of point A. He takes into consideration the delivered solution – the complexity, variability and skilled resources; the target community – its size, location and distribution; and the change impact.

Although typically more descriptive of large scale implementations with significant technological challenges, for SaaS companies the importance of accelerating adoption is even greater. With a plethora of choices and low barriers to entry, customers can switch quickly and somewhat effortlessly when their real or perceived value goes unmet.

So, what is missing from Mr. Duckmanton’s equation? Customer success! Customer success can influence customer outcomes to positively impact the level and duration of the dip (making it lower and shorter) and reduce the distance between point A and achieving point B – the time to first value.

True, it is very difficult to define a solution that will be 100% effective from day one but with a customer success team in place who has a thorough understanding of the business objectives, desired outcomes, and pain of each customer, the likelihood of providing a solution that is closer to 100% effective from day one is much greater.

With a comprehensive view of the customer – an integration of relevant business systems of record and customer touch-point data, a customer success manager can identify and work to minimize barriers to adoption. With personalized engagement, the CSM can encourage more frequent use of your sticky features and functionality – creating adoption that sticks!

And with the addition of customer success, perhaps we could redraw the figure to look more like this:

customer success

Has your customer success team accelerated adoption of your product or service?

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