Customer Adoption: What It Is & How to Improve It

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    Companies are so focused on new business metrics that they tend to totally miss out on the best strategy of all – happy customers. But how can you achieve this goal? You have to show them value, features they can’t live without. In the B2B world, this process starts with driving active customer adoption. When customers are hooked and use your product regularly, customer lifetime value skyrockets accordingly. 

    What is Customer Adoption?

    Customer adoption is essentially a business process that’s used to create sticky, long-lasting accounts. This process involves the creation of a continuous feedback loop between the customer and your product to ensure active usage, usage expansion and growth. To achieve this, most companies implement processes that include onboarding flows, engagement tracking, escalation points, and feature usage monitoring. The customer adoption process is all about helping customers maximize their potential enablement with pre-planned journeys and effective pushing of the features your solution or application is offering, based on the customer’s needs.

    A recent OpenView 2022 product benchmark survey showed that customer adoption is higher when CS or support teams contact product signups (35% when compared to 8% only when contacted via sales personas).

    Here are some common use cases you need to consider:

    • Use Case #1 – Try-before-you-buy products (PLG companies)

    Users that have a chance to play with the product first before committing and their adoption journey starts on signup.  Should you consider them as customers? No! They can be counted as free users, but the push for adoption starts instantly.

    • Use Case #2 – POC before buying 

    A member of your team helps the buyer to get a feel of the product before paying. Differently from Use Case #1, in this case the buyer will have to get help from the team since the product access is limited, or the product is not self-served enough.  This essentially helps the customer go past the interest or consideration stage, and get a real-life walk through to their day to day with the product after purchasing.

    • Use Case #3 – POC after paying / Paid POC

    The customer is already a customer, and is getting a full-blown end-to-end onboarding experience of your product, not just a taste of it. Post-sales and support teams are most active and important in such scenarios.

    Source: UserPilot

    Customer Adoption: The Best Practices

    If you wish to elevate your adoption rates, here are some best practices:

    1. Customer adoption is NOT a one time action

    Humans are strange and peculiar beings, with needs and desires that keep on fluctuating all the time. They can absolutely love your product one day, and totally abandon it the next day without prior notice. Getting customers to adopt your product and choose it again and again every day, requires a never ending cycle of keeping them engaged and making them feel valued.

    Most companies think of customer-focused departments as a cost-center, therefore missing out the opportunity to gain more value from customers. What are the additional actions to ensure adoption after the “adopted” signal is on?

    • Continuously engage for feedback about your product (don’t overdo it). 
    • Don’t ignore the silence, track your stakeholders engagement trends both with the product and your team.
    • Recognize the good ones – when happy customers give positive feedback and adopt your product fast, don’t forget to show them some love. Praise them, try to meet them, send them swag. These good customers tend to be forgotten when there’s a barrage of complaints or users that require a lot of attention. But make sure you are not making this mistake.

    1. Continuously educate and update

    Your customers have a life, and your product is not the only thing happening in it (shocking, right?). Find the right ways to educate them about what matters to them without overwhelming or confusing them. 

    • Set reminders for customer requests, use case requirements, new feature releases, and similar events that may impact adoption. 
    • If you still don’t have the solution to their needs, show them you really care and promise to update them once the feature request is done.
    • When product releases are out – read them and think about the customers who can benefit from them. Don’t forget that most of your customers will miss the product email as average open rates stand at 20-25% in the B2B industry.

    1. Visualize and track customer communications

    The idea behind this is simple – the more you improve customer engagement across all channels, the stickier your accounts will become. Many businesses focus on in-app onboarding and fail to create better omni-channel communications – marketing, product, customer success, and support channels to be more specific. But the problem is that you probably have many blind spots here.

    It’s hard enough to know what’s going on which accounts. You need to invest in gaining visibility into these omni-channel communications. Having a heatmap is nice, but visualizing all touchpoints can be a gamechanger. Some modern customer intelligence platforms are also offering active stakeholder tracking, where even their communications can be monitored in real-time via a centralized dashboard.

    Relationship heatmap
    Customer Relationship Heatmap – Staircase AI

    Related: Customer Journey Mapping Tools

    The Customer Adoption Framework

    The typical customer adoption framework isn’t a linear trajectory, but more of a cycle where chronological processes can be challenged, analyzed, and optimized based on different use cases, business limitations, and changing scenarios.

    That said, here’s the typical customer adoption framework you should follow:

    1. Onboarding – Your onboarding experience needs to be user-friendly and intriguing like your general user experience. Use more tooltips and popups to answer questions faster and help users reach the aha moment.
    2. Healthy adoption – You’ll be constantly scrutinized by users – support response times and in-app friction need to be minimized, while brand credibility (success stories, positive user reviews) need to be highlighted.
    3. Periodic health checks – Map your user experience and understand what touchpoints are key to the user journey. Make sure users are reaching these goals and identify where adoption is weak. Track feature engagement too. 
    4. Escalation points – Establish clear communication channels with customers to manage escalations. Besides pushing educational content and reaching out before customers call you, you should also follow-up with them later.
    5. Surveys – The survey is no longer a silver bullet, but it’s still an effective way to collect feedback and feel the pulse. You can track your Net Promoter Score (NPS) and also plant microsurveys to fetch contextual feedback. 
    6. Active outreach for health checks – You can be getting seemingly positive emails from customers, but they may well be masking dissatisfaction with your product or service. Reach out even when things seem fine.
    7. Set stakeholder KPIs – Your stakeholder KPIs help you keep your customers engaged. You need to have engagement thresholds, stakeholder outreach KPIs and a goals for a defined count of stakeholder relationships in place to trigger your attention. If a customer stops logging in daily after a year of usage, it’s time to make a call.  

    Related: Top 10 CS Tools for the Productive CSM

    Customer Intelligence: Keeping the Green Light On

    If you reached the stage where your adoption rates and active usage rates are trending up, congrats! But achieving long-lasting customer adoption curve and sustainable growth isn’t easy without the right tools to track true account health. Healthy adoption is a state you wish to maintain. Learn about the obstacles, issues, friction points, relationship changes, and other factors that can impact customer sentiment. 

    With Staircase AI, you can track your relationship dynamics, monitor changes via relationship maps, learn about sentiment and engagement trends, and more. Not detecting customer journey risks can impact your customer adoption, eventually leading to accelerated churn and brand damage. Take control of your accounts now.

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