User Adoption Expedition – Camp Boston: A Recap

Three down, one more to go! It’s hard to believe we’ve already wrapped up the third leg of our User Adoption Expedition in Boston. It’s been an incredible journey taking the user adoption conversation around the country so far. It’s humbling to watch so many passionate customer success and product leaders come together to shed light on such an important topic. Our panelists led a terrific user adoption discussion, and guests were able to share their thoughts and network over food and drinks.

The panel discussion was led by our own Rachel Orston (CEO at UserIQ) and joined by Renee Bochman (VP of Customer Engagement at Salsify), Seth Wylie (Principal of Customer Success Operations at Gainsight), Alex Hesterberg (Chief Customer Officer at Turbonomic), and Sam Clemens (Founder and Head of Product at InsightSquared). We were interested to see how user adoption is unique to each panelist’s role, how they align their internal teams and how they set their users up for success throughout the customer journey.

Panel Discussion:

Q: What does user adoption mean to you in your role and how important is understanding your users?

Renee explained that, often times, the customer believes in the vision of the platform but won’t necessarily know how to execute it. People want to buy into the vision, and if the goal is to drive belief in the value, that’s where user adoption comes into play. In addition, user adoption is a continuous process. Customers will get smarter, platforms will change, and competitors will arise. It’s important to refresh and take a step back sometimes!

We loved that Seth elaborated on customer success as being a combination of both customer experience and customer outcomes. Adoption is just one thing you need to measure to make sure customers are getting the outcomes and experiences they’re going for.

Alex gave us Turbonomic’s four pillars they use to look at user adoption: sellability, deliverability, supportability and consumability. Underneath these pillars lies a set of interlocks that help the business to understand processes that will allow it to run better, with each department touching the customer at some point. This creates a holistic company wide approach, making user adoption much easier to tackle.  

Q: How have you overcome obstacles you’ve faced with onboarding and adoption? In addition, where have you had success in creating onboarding programs that scale beyond adding more people?  

Sam gave us some great intel on the changes InsightSquared has made regarding onboarding. The first is digging into use cases — trying to understand what successful customers are using them for. The second is re-adjusting the mindset of what successful onboarding entails. Onboarding isn’t just checking off the boxes when the company feels good about it. Successful onboarding is when the customer feels comfortable after onboarding.

Alex told us that while onboarding for Turbonomic varies by segment, onboarding at scale is about making the process as touchless and intuitive as possible. Build into the product what you can and guide them with an authoritative plan to build trust and make the customer feel comfortable! When it comes to creating a personalized experience at scale, setting expectations during pre-sale is key. Customers will trust more and churn less when the company is transparent.

Q: What are some successful ways you collect VOC within your company in order for everyone to have a shared understanding of user challenges?

We loved Renee’s perspective that the key to the voice of the customer is the voice of the employee. If you can focus on making your employees feel empowered, they’ll give you the voice of the customer with context in a way that something like a survey might not.

Seth explained that voice of the customer comes from providing them with the language and terminology they need to communicate their wants and needs. By telling them what the product is supposed to be doing, customers feel better prepared and more equipped to express their concerns. Customers are often good at telling us what they want, but bad at telling us what they need! Being transparent about the product itself will help to eliminate communication barriers.

Alex humored us by saying he’s not afraid to hear that his “baby is ugly.” It’s important to know when to speak and when to listen, and be open to feedback both good and bad. Let the customer have a fingerprint on where the company goes!

Q: What makes a happy or best customer and how do you define this? How do you look at use cases and assess?

Seth began explaining that understanding your customers’ use cases is an opportunity to see what it requires for them to succeed. You have the ability to say what business workflows and technical needs can support them and once you have a clearly defined picture, you can determine operational metrics, people who need to be involved, how often they’re using which kinds of features, etc.

We loved Renee’s feedback that use cases are about finding where the value is. What do we need to invest in so that people will invest in us? You have to constantly ask yourself: are you supporting their process or journey?

Alex explained that you should begin by doing a “listening tour.” Really listening to your customers will set you up for their use cases and plot them against a maturity curve. He also recommended to “talk in the language of KPI’s” when speaking to a customer. This helps eliminate any confusion on delivering against KPI’s during the the onboarding process.

Q: How can you measure your user adoption strategy and what are key KPIs?

Sam gave a simple response to this question: the key to measuring user adoption is finding the real leading indicators, not the ones you want them to be. It’s important to do the homework, set ideas aside and just listen.

Seth described leading indicators as varying by segment. But at any level he said it’s important to make sure there is a healthy dialogue between the CSM and the customer. Sometimes you have to put product aside, and truly focus on completely offline engagements. On the other end of the spectrum, customer surveys are also great for measuring customer sentiment.

Q: How do you get your customers to use more of your product?

Sam did a great job of explaining that ultimately, usage trickles down from passionate employees. No amount of process will get your team to the right place without passion. On the more technical side, configuration and customization are key. The path should be frictionless from the sales team through the customer journey.


Following the panel discussion, there were a few questions from the audience:

Q: How can you drive urgency and get your customers to see value quickly?

Sam was quick to point out that driving urgency is the wrong approach. Every customer has a different timeline and they need to do what’s right for them. So don’t rush it! Renee explained that it’s always important to come with a plan. Sometimes we offer too many options — putting together a concise, personalized plan will help customers see value quickly.

Q: How do you keep your customers excited and engaged?

Renee expressed the importance of getting customers behind your vision, and keeping that vision at the forefront of the customer relationship. Alex says that being honest with your prospects, showing up with authority, and knowing your audience are key to keeping customers excited and engaged.

So where are we headed?

With one more expedition left, we’re excited to make our final stop in San Francisco! Stay tuned for updates via Twitter and LinkedIn as we release the details. In the meantime, keep the user adoption conversation going by joining the Success Masters Community on LinkedIn.

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