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How to Win at Adoption

You’ve signed the contract, successfully implemented the customer, and set them up with the product. What happens next?

Your customer journey rolls forward into the next critical stage: adoption.

Adoption is a vital but often overlooked stage. This is the step when CSMs walk customers through the product, showcase its features, and explain how to use the system. The rubber meets the road when customers jump into the product and use it for themselves.

Adoption is a can’t-miss opportunity for companies. You have the customer’s attention and they are excited to fully use the product. This is your chance to show them the value as you train. But adoption is more than just the initial training — it’s giving the customer the tools to use the product and continually reinforcing that training. Adoption goes past simply setting up the system to integrate the product into customers’ existing goals and processes.

Winning at adoption is a must to insure product engagement and directly impact the customers overall success. The purpose of a CS team is to help customers get the full value of the product to reach their goals. But that isn’t possible without a strong adoption process.

Here’s how to win at customer adoption:

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Understand Customer Needs

Create an Intentional Plan for Customers

Get Customers to First Usable Value

Like all stages of the customer journey, adoption starts by understanding the customer’s needs and having a thoughtful and strategic plan.

When creating a plan for adoption, consider the value the customer will get from the product. What business objectives are they hoping to achieve? What value have they been promised? Principles of service design thinking can guide your customer relationships, including the idea that services should be designed based on customer needs rather than the business’s internal needs. In CS terms, that means defining value based on the needs of each customer, not necessarily a standard that makes your CS team look better.

The goal of the CS team is to have a plan in line with the customers needs, the product as it will be used, and the timeline they both parties establish together. Don’t sacrifice adoption quality for speed. Understanding your customers, their goals, and how their teams work are critical to your customers experiencing true value in the adoption of your products. Those skills may differ for each customer depending on their use case and previous experience. When you know how the customer wants to use the product, you can make a more intentional plan.

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Speaking to Value Drives Adoption

Showcase Value During Initial Training

Build on Excitement During Initial Training

The bulk of adoption occurs during the CSM’s initial training. During implementation, customers received access to the system, and adoption is when they can jump in and hit the ground running. But adoption isn’t just delivering rote training; it’s finding personalized ways to showcase the value for each customer and their internal teams.

Think of adoption as another chance to sell the product. Customers likely learned about the features of the product and how it can help their business in general terms during the sales process, but it’s another thing to see it in action for their company. Use this chance to showcase the features and the value as you provide initial training.

Understanding customers also means knowing the key stakeholders and who needs to participate in training efforts. Only training the admin and leaving them the responsibility of passing that training to all users can slow down the adoption process. The plan for reinforcing value during adoption training should be role specific and strategic for the product line needing to be adopted.

Customers have to see how they will get the value they purchased. Use the energy during adoption to get them excited about the product and its possibilities for their company.

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Re-Visit Training and Provide Resources

Follow Up With Additional Resources

Empower Customers With Problem-Solving Tools

Too often, CSMs provide robust initial training and then leave customers to their own devices when they try to use the product. That’s like showing a novice chef around a gourmet kitchen once and then expecting them to make a five-course meal all on their own.

Adoption is more than just initial training. It requires following up with customers and giving them the resources to use the product well on their own. The initial training is like drinking from a fire hose. Customers are excited to use the product but are often overwhelmed by the many features and processes. Because CSMs train on the product frequently, they can forget what it’s like to see it for the first time.

But your job isn’t done after you’ve delivered the training resources. In the software world, customers need immediate and comprehensive training resources, even after they’ve received their initial adoption. To truly win at adoption, you have to ensure customers know how to work in the system and get its full value. As customers use the product, CSMs should track usage data and measure the value and outcomes the customer is receiving. They can then use that information to create prescriptive plans for ongoing training efforts and self-help resources. The second stage of adoption aims to make sure customers use the program properly and often enough to get its total value.

As you follow up with additional training, you can also upsell within the program. After using the system, customers may realize they need more access or extra features. CSMs can showcase the additional products and explain how they can add value.

Adoption puts your product in customers’ hands and lets them see the value for themselves. When you win at onboarding, you give customers the tools and resources to take control and reach their business goals and move them smoothly to the next stage of engagement.

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Greg Lloyd

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