Five Ways to Increase User Adoption and Earn Customer Advocates

Field of dreams 4k ultra hd

“If you build it, they will come.”

This may have been true in Field of Dreams but in the real world, it takes a lot more to succeed than simply offering something up and hoping people will embrace it.

This is true as much for AI-powered technology as it is for outsourced recruiting and it’s no surprise that the most successful companies have figured out how to maximize and sustain high user adoption. It’s also no surprise that those companies have fantastic customer advocates – the two are inextricably linked.

User adoption requires an experience that is intuitive, easy, relevant,
meaningful, engaging, and measurable.

These attributes coalesce into an experience that can have a positive, tangible impact on the user – which translates to greater success. All things being equal, if you make someone more successful at what they do (however ‘success’ is defined) they are likely to be a fan. And fans are far more willing to share their experiences than non-fans. (On the flip side, really unhappy users are even more likely to share their negative experiences – by a factor of 6 – so there is urgency to address and resolve those issues…but that’s for another day.)

Achieving world-class user adoption is within the grasp of every company that really wants it. Which is a funny thing to think about as it would seem natural that every company would want it. Judging by their actions, however, clearly not every company does want great user adoption because they have taken the concrete steps to make it happen. It doesn’t take a lot of time or resources, but it does that some elbow grease and commitment. Those companies that we all admire and that have the love and loyalty of their customers have embraced an unyielding focus on user experience and turned it into a way of doing business. It becomes core to what they are and how they operate, and central to their sustained success.

If your organization is struggling with user adoption, below are five things you can start doing today to begin moving in the right direction:

1. Excellent User Onboarding

One of the most important factors in creating a great customer experience is what happens after the ink is dry on the agreement. The time immediately after the deal is signed is filled with excitement, goodwill and high expectations that were established during the sales process. It’s critical that the post-sales experience pays off the pre-sale experience, and that starts with proper customer and user onboarding. In many companies, the handoff occurs between sales and either implementation or customer success, and is the critical link between success and failure. The customer experience here will largely determine the probability a customer will ultimately become an advocate or a detractor.

Sustained user adoption is rooted in a successful onboarding experience that:

  • Provides context for the user
  • Sets expectations
  • Defines value and how it’s measured
  • Teaches features and functions
  • Motivates and celebrates
  • Establishes support
  • Sets a communication pattern
  • Reiterates and reinforces the why, what and how

2. Communication

There is a relationship between a company and its community of users, and each has its own tone and tenor that is unique. So, what’s the most important thing in a relationship? Communication. The details of communication (frequency, channel, etc.) will vary company to company, but one thing is universal – customers want to know what’s going on with you and do not like surprises (unless you’re giving them something free). This is especially true when there is a snafu of some sort, which is precisely when communications should go into overdrive. Companies that are transparent, accountable and nearly overcommunicate tend to be given a lot of slack even when things aren’t going so well.

Updates on new features, sharing best practices, recognizing and celebrating success – these are all great opportunities to solidify your relationship with users and to continue driving high adoption.

3. Motivation and rewards

People love to be recognized and celebrated, and they also love a good challenge. Infusing some fun into the user experience not only helps drive adoption but also strengthens the bond between them and the product. The hierarchy of what motivates users often surprises people – rather than wanting more stuff, most people would prefer to be celebrated or have access to unique experiences. While every situation will call for different variables, a good framework to follow is the SAPS methodology:

  • Status: highlighting and spotlighting users for achievement (i.e. users who accomplish a milestone)
  • Access: to some level of exclusivity (i.e. pass to an industry conference or dinner with the CEO)
  • Power: the ability to make decisions, guide product direction, lead a team meeting, provide team update to the executive team, etc.
  • Stuff: those things that have monetary value – gift cards, cash, etc. These may be enticing in the short-term but aren’t long-term motivators.

The reality is that not every product or service lends itself to embedding gamification or leaderboards. Often times motivation and rewards need to be “wrapped around” a product to enhance the overall experience. A great example is a sales team that rewards and recognizes the use of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool – if leads or closed deals are not in the CRM, the person can’t be added to a leaderboard that is showcased to the entire company. And if they aren’t on the leaderboard they can’t win the spotlight opportunity, concert tickets or whatever works for your company. While not part of the CRM product, the motivation program is “wrapped around” the technology to drive use/adoption. This is important because if you don’t have adoption, you don’t have renewal.

4. Make it relevant and meaningful

Want to really motivate users? Make them more successful! This is true whether your users are in sales, recruiting, customer service, finance or any other function: structure the user experience in such a way that the simple act of adoption will make them better at what they do. In the end, people are self-possessed and will embrace those things that have meaning (as in, make them more successful) and jettison those that don’t (as in, waste their time).

Sustained adoption only happens when the user is getting something useful out of it. When the experience is relevant to their life, it’s easy to do and compelling (as in, interesting and/or fun) and it delivers some intrinsic meaning to them (making them more successful, saving them time, making them money, etc.)

How do learn what motivates them and understand what success looks like? Simple: ask them. Go beyond run of the mill surveys (because everyone is doing a survey and user burnout is upon us!) and have real conversations with buyers and users. Organize a Customer Advisory Board to provide a senior-level perspective (which is who tends to write the checks) and various user groups (which is who tends to have ‘fingers on the keyboard’). Both provide valuable insight that can help you deliver a meaningful, relevant experience that helps users achieve greater success – and buyers look smart for choosing you.

5. Ask for their love

Tracking the pulse of your customers and users makes good business sense for many reasons. Not only does it allow you to understand where you stand (are they happy or unhappy, satisfied or unsatisfied) but it can also uncover some great feedback and insights to help you improve. Best of all: you can find advocates and evangelists who love you so much they want to share their story, which you can use in public relations, case studies and testimonials. Happy customers are also much more open to providing referrals and references. All you have to do to gather this treasure of Pure Gold is ask, listen and respond.

Continuing the Field of Dreams analogy, you’ve already built it. That’s the hard part. Now, the question is, how do you keep them coming back? We’re happy to help – let us know if you’d like to chat.