User Adoption: Real Talk from the Experts with Todd Eby

Todd Eby, Founder & CEO of SuccessHACKER, shares his 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.

Todd Eby, CEO and Founder at SuccessHACKER, utilizes his 24 years of experience to promote one simple truth; successful customers = successful business. His innovative approach has made him a thought leader and top influencer in the Customer Success industry.

Find Tobb Eby:

LinkedIn: Todd Eby
Twitter: @toddceby
Website: SuccessHACKER

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


Okay! So this is our User Adoption: Real Talk from the Experts Series. We decided to do this video series because we recently rolled out the User Adoption and Onboarding Benchmarking Survey (see the full report). This survey was taken by over 450 SaaS leaders and we got so much feedback that we felt like required a lot of conversation and we thought, you know, what better way to kind of go over these key findings than have the experts on it. So this might be a familiar face to you guys. This is Todd and he is the Founder and CEO at SuccessHACKER. So Todd, if you just kind of want to briefly go into a little bit about your experience and things you’re working on, any stuff of that nature.


Sure! So, hey guys, it’s Todd Eby from SuccessHACKER. We’ve been in the business now for quite some time. I personally have been doing it back before we even called it customer success, which I know is the same state that a lot of you are in. So, in terms of what we focus on, SuccessHACKER is really looking more at the talent acquisition and development aspects of customer success. We realize that the biggest way to change the needle for most organizations isn’t by showing them what they’re doing wrong so much as helping them to understand that even if they build a fantastic engine of success, a machine, if they put the wrong fuel in it, fuel being people with the wrong skills, that they’ll never be successful. And so we love to see these types of surveys. We’ve been following pretty much every survey that comes out in the last four years or more.

And so, some interesting things came out of this, obviously. We’d love to talk about it some more. If you’re interested in seeing what we do you can definitely check us out on, where our training program is live. But happy to have some time with you today.


Yeah, so one of the kind of first key findings that we’re gonna dig into is a couple of questions that we have coming are related to onboarding. We got a lot of feedback on how companies are taking on onboarding challenges and things like that, so one of the biggest key takeaways that we got from the survey was that 70% of our respondents are looking to improve user adoption within the year. They want to make it a high priority. 26% of respondents said that they are particularly looking to develop more of a self service, high tech onboarding model. So our first question that kind of comes out of that is what do you think are the motivations behind wanting to improve onboarding? Why is it such an initiative to improve onboarding in the first place?


The reason why I think so many people continuously key on it as a top priority is that it really is where your relationship with the customer truly begins to develop. I know a lot of folks would like to say, “Oh, we build relationships and that’s how we do sales.” And that’s true, but when you think about the customer and their desire to basically accomplish something, this is the first stage towards accomplishing that and that’s why it’s so important because it sets the tone for everything else. There can be no effective user adoption if you haven’t onboarded them effectively.


That kind of being said, so take these companies are wanting to hit the ground running with this and moving forward, they’re gonna start improving this onboarding phase. What are some best practices for people to do that?


Well, you know, it’s interesting. We’ve trained leaders on how to think about structuring their onboarding. And recently we did a webinar where I changed the paradigm a little bit and said, “Regardless of what your leaders are doing, you, as a CSM, need to think about what you can do to effectively onboard. And the reason why we did that is there’s recognition that there are a lot of early stage companies there where the maturity level isn’t at a point where they’ve really holistically thought about how do I build a set of playbooks, etc. And so I think it’s incumbent on the CSMs to actually start thinking about that. And so one of the best practices that we put in place is something that we call execution mapping, which is simply put, looking at your life cycle phases, identifying what the key activities are underneath each phase, and then starting to nail down, okay, what do I need to do at a medium level to accomplish those, and laying out your entire end to end customer life cycle in that fashion in an execution grid. It sounds fancy but really, it’s a spreadsheet.

What that does, is it enables you to sort of take a step back and say, “Here’s all the things that have to happen in a practical sense.” So we have this fuzzy journey that looks beautiful on its scale, well laid out. We could do that, but instead let’s focus, because we want to be practical and tactical, on these execution oriented steps. So once you do that, then you can kind of take a step back and you look at what really has to happen at a lower level of detail to make these things occur.

What we do, and recommend as a best practice, is to think of your playbooks as a two sided equation. So build not just the playbooks for yourself, but build the customer playbook and expose that to them as well. So when you sit down with the customer at the beginning of your onboarding journey and you lay out, “Here’s what’s going to happen. Here’s the different phases, here’s who’s involved, here’s the timing. Here’s what we’re gonna do, here’s what you’re going to do.” And then you give them a playbook.

The best practice that we’ve really seen make the biggest difference is being very clear on what’s expected of them and making them understand that they’re part of their own success.

The third best practice that I would recommend, which is really look at why they hired your product. People aren’t buying a product, they’re buying a solution. I can’t remember who the quote is, but people aren’t buying the drill bit, they’re buying the hole.

And so ultimately, the only way that you can be truly successful with onboarding is you understand what the customer is looking to accomplish, not the big picture that you probably are gonna get as part of the sales process, but the fine grained details.


How does the onboarding phase impact how well users adopt a platform?


Well, it’s your first impression, right?

And part of an effective onboarding is also … and it’s something that I think a lot of folks don’t really do very well, it’s the marketing and the planning for expansion. So, ideally, and in most cases, you want to expand beyond where you’ve initially landed. And the way typical things work in the subscription economy is you will probably come in to an opportunity in the smaller section of a larger company. Your plan is to land and expand. We all know that saying. And if you don’t onboard effectively and you don’t understand who else within the organization would value what you’re doing.

So during that onboarding it’s incumbent upon the person that’s doing it to start learning as much as they can about the organization and their needs, and to start laying the groundwork for expansion. A lot of companies just go heads down and they focus on getting the one tranche of users onboarded and they don’t think about how they’re really sort of trying to build awareness. They’re going through almost like a marketing funnel again to expand outside.

So there’s a couple of factors in there but what it boils down to is if you get heads down on what you’re working on and you don’t think about the big picture, then you’re going to see a tougher road when it comes to expansion. Most of the time you’re not going to be tapped into a Head of Learning and Development of a company that’s gonna sit down and work with you on how best to train their staff.

You have to remember that onboarding, a big piece of it that a lot of people don’t think about is the change in management exercise. So do nothing is very powerful. If I have to change the way that I operate day to day, that’s a big cognitive lift for me. I have to think, and I don’t really want to do that. You know, I’m already having enough trouble just keeping what I need to do front and center, given all the day to day distractions that you have in the modern business world. So you need to also be thinking about how can we make this tight? How can we get the folks excited to get on board with it so there’s a lot of psychology and marketing that has to go into it as well. So the skillset for the people that are doing onboarding, I think we miss, as an industry, a lot of the different things that they need to be aware of. And you just presume by walking somebody through how an application works that that’s good enough, and it’s not.


Yes, definitely. I think it is pretty safe to say that you are the expert when it comes to onboarding and user adoption. This has all been very helpful tips. I feel like a lot of what you said are things that people can take away as action items today. So I again, wanted to thank you for being on here. In the description box below I will be putting all of the links to where you can find Todd online. I’ll also be putting a link to where you can download the full report which has many other stats that I’m sure you’ll be very excited to see and will stir up a lot of conversation. So again, thanks Todd, and we appreciate you being on here.


It was a pleasure, thank you.