With product usage and adoption, there are two sets of priorities that CSMs need to grapple with: the internal goals of their company and the needs of their customers.
After investing time and money into product development, companies want to see the fruits of their labor pay off. That can create pressure for CSMs to focus their day-to-day efforts around their business priorities. But, they can’t just force customers to use a feature because the Director of Product wants it to be adopted.
“The CSM has to understand how to align the business priorities with the customer priorities,” says Luke Owen, Principal Customer Success Specialist at SaaSWorks “What you want to do is understand your customers’ priorities first and backfill those priorities with product.”
Every customer should have a customer success plan that includes their short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. In order to successfully get them to adopt your product, you need to show them how your different features will help them reach their goals.
“It sounds simple, and in some regards it is,” Luke says. “The exercise of doing it is easier said than done.”
The biggest challenge of encouraging user adoption is finding a way to make personalized recommendations based on individual goals at scale.
“One thing that I think is really important is to encourage some sort of in-app or in-product process that tries to gather feedback about the user’s goal in a way that allows them to populate it on their own terms as they’re using the solution,” Luke says.
This can be done through configuration questions asked in the onboarding process or you could have pop-ups appear over time. Your CSMs will need to know firmographic information, like industry and company size. You should also ask some open-ended questions too, like “What are the top three projects you’re using this product for during the next six months?” and “What are your top goals for the next three, six and 12 months?”
You can even automate confirming that information down the line by having forms that ask “Is this information still accurate” appear at regular intervals, like every six months.
Automating the collection of goal insights allows CSMs to spend more time making recommendations based on those goals and encouraging different methods of product usage. It’s important that CSMs have deep understanding of their product, though. They need to know ins and outs of solution, so they can craft use cases that customers can follow in order to achieve their goals.
For successful product adoption however, there may be some foundational features that need to be adopted for other aspects of the solution to work as intended. For example, a website analytics tool would need to be connected to a website in order to collect the necessary data. An email marketing tool will need templates to be set up so that communications can be formatted in a way that aligns with the company’s brand and contain all necessary legal information in the footer.
While those foundational features might not directly contribute to goal attainment in the short term, implementing them is necessary for your product to help the user reach their goals in the long run. Adopting them is a prerequisite, so contextualizing how the initial setup and usage of those features will eventually ladder up to overarching goals can get customers who are more hesitant to buy in.
Adoption is a vital part of the customer journey. If customers aren’t using your product, they can’t get value from it — therefore they’re not getting value from their engagement with your company.
“If you don’t have product adoption, basically the customer experience isn’t there,” Luke says. “Without customer experience, you don’t get people talking about you. If you don’t have that, you don’t have that network effect that’s mission-critical for any business to succeed.”
With how commoditized products have become, word-of-mouth caused by positive customer experiences is what sets you apart from your competitors. So in order to grow your company, you need to encourage user adoption.
Quinn is a writer and copyeditor whose work ranges from journalism to travel writing to inbound marketing content.