User Adoption: Real Talk from the Experts with Kia Puhm

Kia Puhm, founder of KIA CX Consulting, shares her thoughts on UserIQ’s 2018 SaaS User Adoption & Onboarding Benchmarking Report.

Welcome to the User Adoption: Real Talk from the Experts series!

In this video series, we take a deep dive into UserIQ’s 2018 User Adoption and Onboarding Benchmarking Report, based on a survey taken earlier this year by over 450 SaaS leaders. We wanted to know — how are companies addressing user adoption challenges today? How are they measuring success, executing initiatives and maintaining momentum? To help us dig into these key findings, we’re featuring the customer success experts themselves.

Kia Puhm is an entrepreneurial executive with 21 years of experience leading strategic corporate initiatives. She has held chief positions in customer success, services, account management and support at companies such as: Oracle, Eloqua, Day Software (Adobe), Intelex Technologies, and Blueprint Software Systems. Kia has pioneered the art of Customer Experience by leading businesses through the transition to customer-centric organizations. Her methodology provides clients with a disciplined and sustainable approach to increasing customer lifetime value & loyalty.

Find Kia Puhm:

LinkedIn: LinkedIn
Twitter: @kiapuhm
Website: KIA CX Consulting

Want to read up on the Top Trends in SaaS User Adoption & Onboarding for 2018?

Download the 2018 SaaS User Adoption & Onboarding Benchmarking Report to see how more than 450 SaaS leaders handle these initiatives today and how your company stacks up. 


Video Transcription


So I wanted to just kinda start off by introducing this series. So this is the User Adoption Real Talk from the Experts video series. So this series is taking a deep dive into our 2018 User Adoption and Onboarding Benchmarking Report, which we released earlier this year. We really wanted to take a deep dive into how companies are addressing user adoption challenges, particularly when it comes to measuring success, executing those initiatives, and maintaining momentum.

So we got results from over 450 SaaS leaders. So we needless to say have a lot to talk about. Our wheels are turning. And so we thought what better way to dig into the key findings then to talk to the experts themselves. So I do wanna have you just kinda introduce yourself, talk a little bit about your background and experience and projects and stuff that you’re working on now.


Yeah. My name is Kia Puhm of KIA CX Consulting. I’ve been 23 years in software and built every post sales function required to ensure that customers were adopting technology and figuring out how to do that in the most effective and efficient manner when resources are not unlimited. Two years ago I started my own company, KIA CX, which is a strategic advisory company that helps customers accelerate their growth through a customer centric approach.


Perfect. So this first point we want to dive into is a pretty big one, which was that one of the stats we found was that 95% of survey respondents ranked increasing user adoption as important, very important, or extremely important to their organization. So clearly this is a pretty big imitative and pretty big focus. So that being said, why do you think so many companies kind of recognized this as an area of opportunity?


Well yeah, at the risk of stating the obvious, user adoption is the fundamental basis upon which to retain and grow customers. Customers need to be using the products and services they bought otherwise they simply won’t renew or use more. So basically there is no ability for a vendor to create loyal customers and grow them if customers not even using the products in the first place. So I believe that companies are recognizing this, of course, and that driving user adoption is crucial in ensuring customers are using what they bought.


Exactly. I think for a lot of people, this term of user adoption can be kinda new. And I think when it comes to thinking about strategies it sometimes seems like a little bit of a daunting task or you don’t know exactly where to start. So the kinda next question we had and key stand out we wanted to talk about was for companies that are looking to put a user adoption strategy in place, where’s a good first step for them to start?


Yeah. You know, a great first step is to understand what their most successful customers are doing today to achieve the success. So I always advise companies to get a solid understanding of what success looks like and how it’s achieved and then a company has the ability to codify this success into its user adoption strategies so that it’s repeatable across the entire base. So the first thing I do in working with clients to understand that and pull that out is to look at what the customer journey is, of their most successful customers.

And we look to understand why customers bought, what outcomes they’re looking to achieve through the use of the product, how they are internally organized to bring new products into their organization and leverage those products, and what are those moments of truth or the experiences along that entire journey so that all this understanding can be used to replicate that path to success for future customers and existing customers. And so armed with this information, my clients can create that course finding adoption playbook that codifies that success.

So definitely my advice is to take a look, when you’re figuring out your adoption strategy and understand what that success looks like and how can the company support every step in that journey and repeatable manner through its playbook to replicate that. Now for those companies there’s a lot of companies out there that are also just starting out. And maybe they don’t have enough of a benchmark to know what are their customers doing. So my recommendation is to outline a customer journey that they would like to have their customers follow and really think of it from the customers perspective.

Use that as that foundational point to then observe how every play along that journey is either servicing or hindering the customer in their adoption, and then make adjustments accordingly to keep improving that journey and driving that improved adoption.


I think that’s great. Yeah. I think that’s awesome. And when it comes to if companies are gonna put user adoption strategy in place, I think there’s a certain level of accountability that comes into play. So the other kinda point we wanted to discuss was where does leadership lie here and what steps can you take to make user adoption a company wide effort?


Yeah, you know, it’s critical in making any sort of changes fundamentally across a company, the leadership has to be involved. And so I think where leadership comes into play in ensuring that entire company is driving user adoption and that it is a company wide effort is to ensure that everyone is aligned to supporting the customer across the entire journey. What I mean by this is that the company collectively should understand what is the vision that their customers are trying to achieve in their own businesses with the use of the technology and how they leverage it.

And then use that customer perspective to inform how they can assist customers to ensure that their adopting this offer. That means that the company is thinking about the customer holistically across the entire journey and recognizing what role it plays in ensuring that the journey is a seamless and easy as possible. So once the leadership has that in place of a common understanding, it can then make sure that everyone’s aligned to supporting that customer. And driving it not only from a bottoms up approach, but that top down leadership approach as well.

And then in terms of making user adoption a company wide effort, I think it’s important that everyone individually makes sure that they understand and talk about successful customers. I think all to often we talk about the failures and what went wrong so that we can improve that, which is obviously very, very critical, but I think we also need to look at what the most successful customers are doing so that we can replicate that. So just as importantly understand and talk about what successful customers are doing so that every individual and the company as a whole can start to identify what drives user adoption more efficiently.

And then also walk in their shoes. Try to think from their perspective so that when you’re working with your peers to develop ideas that make adoption easier and faster, that the solutions you’re creating are done from the customers viewpoint versus internally from the customers perspective. And so I think that an adoption strategy that takes into consideration how your customers best learn and use the products will always be more effective in driving user adoption.


Yeah. I definitely agree and I think you made a great point about sometimes we get all to focused on the mishaps or where we’ve gone wrong and you really also should be focusing on who is successful and where things are going right and I think it’s good to have a good balance of those. So I think that was great. So that kinda wraps up the few questions that we had. So we are going to put some links below in our description box with your social media handles and where they can find you.

We’ll also have a full download of the report. We really appreciate your insight. This was fantastic and we appreciate it. Thank you so much.


You’re very welcome Kelsey. Thank you so much for the time and the opportunity. I really appreciate it.