User Adoption Expedition — Camp Atlanta: A Recap

Well folks, that’s a wrap on the Atlanta Camp of the User Adoption Expedition! We had such a great time taking the conversation around user adoption to a cool new venue and meeting everyone around our hometown who’s interested in making their customers successful. The night was full of awesome insights and tips from our panelists on the fundamentals of user adoption and how each department plays its own role in the strategy.

User Adoption Expedition - Atlanta - Networking

We kicked off the night with food, drinks, and networking with SaaS professionals from all over Atlanta (and a few who were traveling through). We were able to share why we’re passionate about user adoption and learn how other companies are tackling the challenges that come with it. A common theme that came up often was getting at the “how” of user adoption. People were interested to know what tactics go into a great user adoption strategy and how they feed into other steps in the customer journey.

User Adoption Expedition - Atlanta - Speakers

After the networking, it was time to get to the most anticipated section of the Atlanta Camp – the panel discussion. Our panelists—Amber Haack (VP of Customer Success at Springbot), Liz Pastor (Director of Support Ops at MailChimp),Dave Thomson (CRO at List Partners), and Bryan Brown (Chief Product Officer at Terminus) —took the stage alongside our CEO, Rachel Orston, to get into the basics of user adoption and how each department plays a role. With panelists from various departments and roles, the first topic we wanted to hone in on was:

What does user adoption mean to you in your specific role?

Each of our panelists gave different but equally important answers on how their respective roles help drive adoption and onboarding.

Amber Haack gave an overarching answer that can be used to define user adoption on an organizational level. When asked what adoption meant to her, she said: “Adoption means users using your product successfully to solve a pain point.” In order to do that Amber, suggests defining what that success looks like for both you and your users as early as you can.

In the same vein, Liz Pastor drives home being a tool for helping your users grow. “To me, user adoption is all about helping your customers grow in their respective companies – doing all the things that will make them grow.”

It’s no secret how pivotal a role adoption plays in the customer journey. Dave Thomson shared his definition of user adoption: “Adoption is the bridge to other stages of growth. Adoption means retention and you retain customers by making them successful however they need you.”

Bryan Brown gave an especially unique perspective from the product management perspective:

While the answers may have differed, our panelists made it clear that taking a strategic, company-wide approach to user adoption is paramount and that it’s a user-focused strategy. Every department plays a role in making your users successful and without adoption, that success becomes more difficult for you and them.

What does a successful user adoption strategy look like and what are the KPIs?

What’s important to note is that our panelists all advocated for moving from a reactive approach to a proactive one and explained how adoption can help you do that. Amber Haack hit the nail on the head: “Instead of waiting until a customer is in danger of churning, go on the offensive and see how you can create a way to replicate success for each user so it doesn’t get to the point where they are ready to churn.”

A common struggle when choosing KPIs is moving to proactive metrics and leading indicators like customer journey mapping, NPS surveys, and more. Asking “what could we have done better?” or asking for feedback after it’s too late is a constant pain point for people responsible for user adoption.  

When creating a strong user adoption strategy it’s important to think about what tactics you should implement once a prospect becomes a customer to ensure that they are successful using your product. Dave Thomson gave suggestions based on what was working for his company: “Starting early is imperative. Making sure we get all users on a training as soon as possible, within 48 hours max.”

Bryan Brown also made the case for not being afraid to stray from traditional KPIs when talking about user adoption. “At Terminus, we struggle to push marketers in a new direction. we’re trying to get them to do something they aren’t used to doing so that means adoption becomes about persuasion and can’t be measured with traditional metrics like usage.”

How is alignment happening in your organization?

The other crucial part of driving adoption for your product starts with alignment, but how does that happen? Our panelists talked about certain positions their companies created to act as liaisons between various stakeholders, opening feedback channels with customers, and how to communicate with cohorts to conquer user adoption.

Liz talked about how MailChimp goes about mastering alignment between product and support teams with their Support Product Analyst role. Support Product Analysts (or SPAs) act as a conduit between product teams and the support team who has a direct line to the customer.

Dave Thomson warned attendees not to underestimate the benefits of transparency, customization and having a great relationship with different stakeholders, like marketing and product teams, to create a user adoption strategy.

Another key takeaway from the night was not just about alignment across your organization, but alignment with your customer. That alignment comes through having open feedback channels to collect customer sentiment and data to discover gaps or issues before they impact adoption and success. Our panelists gave great insight into how their respective companies are doing it. Liz suggested getting in front of the customers by bringing them into the office, Bryan advocates for having product management teams listen to customer calls, and Dave believes in social proof as a way to collect that data and share it with other users that come from similar industries.

Each panelist handles getting meaningful customer feedback differently, but this tells us one thing: you must gather and share feedback, in whatever way works best for your company and your employees, to drive alignment within your company and with your customers.

What advice would you give to others in the room that are trying to get their head around these same problems? What skills do you need to build to be successful?

Each of our panelists shared one piece of career advice for our audience.

Liz: “Have coffee with a different person every day or every week to get to know your peers. Learn what their goals are and what they prioritize. Making your peers successful will also help your users be successful.”

Bryan: “Don’t wait for permission to jump in with ideas – take the keys to the Ferrari. One idea can change the world.”

Amber: “By putting the customer first in everything and being a champion for the voice of the customer, especially if you’re in customer success, you’ll go far.”

Dave: “Bringing data and concrete evidence to your role will help you make more strategic decisions around adoption.”

We concluded the panel discussion with a Q&A. Attendees came prepared with questions about alignment, change management, and tasks that can be implemented on a day-to-day basis in order to drive user adoption.

User Adoption Expedition - Atlanta - Q&A

Most times when you speak about user adoption, it involves some form of change management. How do you go about that?

Our panelists explains that change management relies heavily on getting your users to see the value in your product. That can look different for different companies and customers, but looking at the issue you’re aiming to solve and how the product answers that will give you the foundation to accelerate time to value.

Can you talk more about the Support Product Analyst (SPAs) position and how that role interacts with product and support?

Liz: “There are a few main tasks our Support Product Analysts do to ensure that all teams are aligned. Our SPAs sit in on meetings with the product team to understand product implementation details and provide relevant customer insights and concerns. There’s also a reporting aspect to the role to collect and share customer feedback in the most effective way.”

How do you go about choosing which customers to survey to really capture voice of the customer data?

Our panel zeroed in on the need to have varied perspectives when gathering customer data. “You should be choosing a range of customers who have negative, neutral, and positive outlooks on your product to get the full picture.”

User Adoption Expedition - Atlanta - Panelists

What does a user adoption strategy look like at the one month—month and a half mark?

Dave Thomson gave some great insight on some tactics to engage users who have signed up for your product but have not logged in as well as how to keep users engaged. The important thing is to reach out to your users through various channels whether it’s email, social, calls or reaching out to other decisionmakers in the company to ensure that they are successful with the tool.

Where’s the User Adoption Expedition headed next?

The Atlanta Camp is finished, but that doesn’t mean the Expedition has ended. The journey to conquering user adoption has only begun! Join our Success Masters Community to keep the conversation going and stay on the lookout for event details for when the User Adoption Expedition comes to a city near you.

Want a full recap of the night? Check out the video below:

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