Why is User Adoption so Hard?

Most organizations are surprised by how difficult it is to get people to adopt new technology.

The worst mistake people make

The biggest mistake many organizations make is believing that people will have no choice but to adopt a new IT system because it will be mandatory.

Do people assume this in your organization?

You can’t mandate system use

Mandating system use is a common approach that is guaranteed to block the potential value and success of an IT system. The assumption is that if the boss tells them they must do it, then people will do it. Ha!

The truth is that people always have a choice in:

  • How they use a system
  • When they use it
  • How well they use it
  • How frequently they use it
You can't mandate behavior

Technology introduces LOTS of change!

Many organizations that struggle with adoption have failed to recognize that introducing new technology, even simple systems, creates a ripple effect of change throughout an organization.

Implementing IT systems require changes to:

  • Processes and policies
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Daily routines and habits
  • Performance expectations and evaluations

Manage the changes or else

Unless you identify and proactively manage change before, during, and after go-live, you will not see the levels of user adoption and business outcomes you want.

The IT system on which you spent valuable time and money will end up:

  • Sitting idle
  • Used in the wrong way
  • Barely used
  • Have bad data entered
  • No data entered
Barrier to user adoption

The hidden barriers to success

Most organizations fail to identify real and perceived organizational obstacles to adopting and using new technology because leaders:

  • Believe user adoption will “just happen” organically and they don’t need to devote time and resources to drive and sustain adoption
  • Don’t know how to identify potential organizational barriers to adoption
  • Think they know all the barriers without realizing they probably don’t
  • Do not motivate and rewarded people for focusing their efforts on anything beyond quickly getting the system live on time and within budget

Get the right approach to success

Most software projects fail to deliver the expected business outcomes because of the method the buyer takes to getting the system live and driving user adoption.

Many organizations lack the expertise, tools, and capacity to deliver their internal success. You need to move past traditional change management approaches and instead put in place a comprehensive effort focused on long-term, sustained user adoption.

You need to:

  • Remove adoption barriers that prevent stakeholders from using IT systems as designed and intended
  • Achieve a dramatic increase in adoption rates for IT systems
  • Experience significantly faster value creation and benefits realization from IT systems
  • Gain a return on your IT system objectives and investments
  • Be the role model and hero in your organization for having the knowledge and skills to drive short-term and long-term success with IT systems

When you have the right approach to user adoption, you will find that it is not that hard to deliver success. If you are not getting the results you need, it is time to develop new skills and approaches to solving the problem. You will be amazed at the results.


Get help

If you are looking to help software buyers create their own internal software success programs, Success Chain can help. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.


How to Develop a Cohesive Customer Success Management Strategy

Many SaaS vendors recognize the need for a Customer Success Management Strategy, but they struggle with knowing where to begin creating this capability. They often start with what they are comfortable with and by doing what they already know how to do. But this won’t solve their problem. It is time for something new.

The explosive growth of cloud-based subscription software is dramatically shifting the relationship between software vendors and customers. While the exact impact of these changes is still unfolding, one thing that is clear is that we need to develop new approaches for how systems are implemented, adopted, and managed. And we need to evolve the skills, expertise, methods, and tools needed to drive customer success, as well.

In my previous article, I discussed how SaaS vendors need to map out their customers’ critical path to success and then develop the capabilities that will move customers along this journey. In this first post in a two-part series, I will share the first two steps necessary for actually doing it.

STEP 1: Find out how to solve customers? user adoption and ROI problems

Let’s be clear – the whole reason you are devoting time and resources to building a CSM team in the first place is that your customers are unable to achieve success using your software on their own. If they were, they wouldn’t need help, and you wouldn’t need a CSM team.

The absolute first place to start is to identify what constitutes success for your customer and then figure out what they need to do to achieve it. All of your actions moving forward need to be maniacally focused on your Customer Success Management Strategy and making sure customers take the actions necessary to achieve this goal.

Many customers and SaaS vendors get into big trouble before they even start. They think user adoption and ROI issues are about software functionality or the on-time deployment of the system. They are not. For most customers, success or failure is determined by what happens after the system is live. Success is not a technical issue. Success is a user adoption and business results issue. This is where many of your customers are struggling. Consequently, this is where your CSM program needs to focus.

It is critical that you get your initial needs analysis for your customers correct. If you get this wrong, you will squander precious time, money, and resources trying to build a CSM capability that has no chance of solving your customer’s underlying problem – getting their staff to use the system.

When doing your initial needs analysis, consider the following:

  • Analysis Skills & Perspective: The issues you identify in your needs analysis and the corresponding solutions will depend entirely on the lens of the people you have doing the analysis. Keep in mind the problem you need to address is an organizational change and a performance issue. It is not a technical, sales, or customer service issue. Make sure that you have people with expertise and a proven track record of driving and sustaining user adoption and organizational change doing the analysis.
  • User Behavior: You need to identify all of the drivers and barriers that affect user adoption within your customer’s organization. You need to understand why the customer’s staff is not using your system and why your customer is not achieving their goals. Once you identify the root-cause problems, then you can begin to help customers take action. This is not easy to do.
  • Methodology: Investigate the methodology your customers use to introduce your system and then the methods they use to manage ongoing user adoption. You will likely find that many of the user adoption and ROI problems are management issues and not user-resistance.

Only once you understand exactly where things are breaking down should you attempt to move forward by deciding how to fix it.

STEP 2: Develop your Customer Success Management Strategy

Your Customer Success Management Strategy will depend on the nature of your customers’ issues, the value the customer brings to your organization, and the costs associated with delivering CSM services. You may need to segment and prioritize your customers and then make decisions about where to target your CSM efforts for maximum results.
Now we are getting into an area that requires some new thinking. In order for your CSM function to be successful, you need to figure out:

  • How your customers can actually solve their problems
  • What resources you are prepared to provide to help

That requires you making decisions in two key areas:

Self-Service or Professional Service

Where on the self-service vs. professional service spectrum do you place each customer segment? Do you expect customers to solve their user adoption and ROI challenges on their own, or will you help them?

  • For lower-value customers, you might help put together basic toolkits to help them build their internal user adoption / ROI programs. This approach tends to be low in cost but also low in effectiveness.
  • For more valuable customers, you might offer a full professional service that helps them drive and maximize user adoption and ROI over the life of the system. Yes, this should also be a revenue-generating service, just like any training or technical service you provide.

Build, Buy, or Partner

For those customers that require a professional service, you need to decide how you will provide it. Below are three key questions to ask to help you determine your approach:

  • Do you want to develop internal user adoption and ROI expertise within your company? If so, build it.
  • Do you want to just bring in expertise on an as-needed basis? If so, buy it (by subcontracting out this work).
  • Do you want to stay focused on the technical expertise in your company while also ensuring customers have the service they need to sustain ROI over the long-term? If so, partner with firms with expertise in developing effective user adoption programs.

By the way, if you are worried that customers won’t pay for a professional service to help them get full business value from your system, don’t be.

I have worked with many clients that fully recognize the need for help in this area.

In fact, one of my customers, a large organization with a presence in all 50 states, recognized that user adoption and what happens after the system goes live is actually the most critical determining factor of their success. They realized that user adoption is 80% of their needs, and technology is only 20% of their challenge.

Next Steps

Once you have your Customer Success Management Strategy in place, you can then turn your attention to developing your methodology and tools and making the internal organizational changes necessary to launch and start introducing your new CSM capabilities to your customers. I go over each of those steps in detail in the second part of this series.

*This blog post was written by Jason Whitehead, CEO of Tri Tuns and originally published publication on Openview Labs blog.


5 Steps to Build High-Impact Customer Success Playbooks

It is time to rethink some major assumptions and turn conventional wisdom on its head when it comes to how buyers and sellers of software approach user adoption.

For many years, user adoption was, at best, an after-thought once a system was live. At worst, it was ignored completely. IT departments and executive sponsors were left scratching their heads wondering why the magical benefits they believed the software would deliver never appeared.

Conventional wisdom had led them to believe that if they selected a great product with the right features, trained people on the functionality, communicated “What’s In It For Me?”, then everything would be fine. Then the “If you build it, they will come” approach repeatedly failed to deliver the software ROI that buyers expected. Customers reduced licenses or churned completely, leading to a big “ah-ha” moment for the software vendors. SaaS vendors realized they need to proactively support their customers in adopting their software, achieving their business goals, and consequently renewing. Thus, the field of Customer Success (CS) was born.

Adoption: The Critical Path Problem You Need to Solve

At its core, the root-cause problem that most CS teams need to solve is that customers are not effectively accelerating, maximizing, and sustaining full adoption of software within their organizations. If the customers’ users cannot or will not incorporate the use of a given software into their daily work routines, they will not get the value they need. Quite simply:

No Adoption = No Value = No Renewals

CS teams can spend all the time in the world talking about features, road-maps, strategy, and quarterly business reviews (QBRs), but without adoption, this is all moot.

The Challenge: Conventional Wisdom Doesn’t Apply to Adoption!

If you are still following conventional wisdom and focusing on training and traditional change management, your renewals will suffer. User adoption is not a technology issue. ?It is not a marketing or sales issue. It is not a training issue (though training plays a role). User adoption is a complex organization and people issue. It is a performance issue, dependent on both organizational and individual performance. The old approaches don’t work.

Effective user adoption is about getting people – lots of people – to change their behavior to reliably use your software to do their jobs. It is about coaching them to develop new work habits and to keep them going day, after day, after day. It is about removing the organizational barriers (which often fall outside the users’ control) that prevent them from using your system. And it is about aligning and focusing on how different groups use your software to make sure the customer organization is achieving the desired business goals.

The Future: Actionable User Adoption Playbooks

Let me ask you, what have you done to learn about the components and complexities of user adoption? What sources did you consider? How did you determine the actions you would take to drive user adoption? And what made you think these would be effective?

Once you understand that user adoption is a new type of challenge and the old rules don’t apply, you have freed yourself to work with your customer for answers to these questions. Here are five suggestions to get you started:

1. Educate on User Adoption Fundamentals

The chances are high that your customers do not have expertise in user adoption challenges and methods. Educate your customers (and CS staff) on effective user adoption methods so they can spend their time on proven strategies.

2. Provide Your Customers an Adoption Best Practice Playbook

Make it easy for your customers to proactively drive adoption within their organization. Provide them with the simple, actionable toolkits they need to drive adoption within their organization.

3. Develop a CS Adoption Coaching Capacity and Playbook

Your CS team needs to guide your customers through the adoption process. Provide your CS team with the training, skills, tools, and plays they need to coach your customers in adopting your software.

4. Start during the Initial Sales Process

Introduce user adoption plans and actions very early in the sales cycle. Help your customer understand that without fast, effective adoption, they will never get the ROI they want. Use your CS services as a competitive sales differentiator to demonstrate how your organization will reduce their risk and improve their ROI.

5. Continue Over Time

Don’t stop at go-live! Focus on sustaining full, effective adoption among your customers’ users over the life of your system. As soon as users stop adopting and getting value, your customer will churn.

Flip The Model

Developing effective, scalable, and profitable Customer Success services requires user adoption expertise and new ways of approaching interactions with your customers. ?Beware of approaches with an over-reliance on marketing, messaging, and training. Our organization, Success Chain, has had great success in flipping the model for delivering user adoption and customer success services. By fundamentally rethinking how we approach and deliver our services, we have accelerated how we engage with customers to deliver even faster results. As you go forward building your adoption playbooks, I challenge you to identify where you can throw conventional wisdom out the window and develop a new, more effective approach that delivers faster results for you and your customers.


Customer Success Managers Must Be Experts in User Adoption

Karen Russell’s insightful article, “6 Mistakes That Can Sabotage The Success Of Your Customer,” sums up a lot of the problems we often see with our Saas or Enterprise clients as they transition from making software dreams a reality. As more companies realize that concerted efforts on customer success will yield better adoption and better business outcomes, these mistakes can interfere with realizing the full business value of a system.

Whether you are the client or the vendor, the goal is not introducing a slick new technology but putting the systems and processes in place to make that technology effective.

On the list, #4 is “Being the Expert,” and it is perhaps the hardest to overcome because most customer success managers are not trained to be coaches, though that is exactly what is needed. The role of a coach is to “give them the skills, techniques, routines, and exercises to make them 1st on the podium.” But before you can be the expert, you need to become the expert. This is where a lot of customer success managers struggle. They are fluent in their technology, and the functionality that it offers but providing the right tools and exercises to get the customer or a team to adopt the technology can be daunting. This part of the role requires more than just account management or customer service. Developing and implementing those tools can be time consuming and ineffective. Not every customer success manager is also an organizational development expert or has a degree in change management. And for those who are, the demands of their “day job” crowd out the skillful methodology behind a truly effective adoption program.

In order for customer success managers to bring value to their clients, they need guidance in the why, what, and how of driving adoption and what barriers they will likely overcome on the way. Since software adoption is not a technology issue, they need to not only know what might be slowing down adoption but why the customer is facing challenges and, even more importantly, how to address those challenges. Here are three ways that your people can become the experts you need them to be:

  1. Myth Busting: There are a lot of misunderstandings about the true challenges behind software adoption. Understanding the latest trends and methodology behind solving those issues will keep your team on track addressing the deeper issues behind your customer’s adoption issues, rather than scratching the surface.
  2. Action Plan: Once your team can identify the issues behind software adoption, they need a plan to address them. Developing goals with the customer is key to gaining an understanding of their goals and how best they can receive the full value of your system.
  3. Communications: Your team needs to work with the customer to bring adoption beyond the software project team. This is where becoming the expert turns the technology project into a value-driven enterprise across your customer’s business.

This doesn’t mean you have to re-educate your customer success team. There are customer success automation tools and training that can give your customer success managers insights and techniques for overcoming adoption barriers.

Organizations like ours are devoted to bringing your customer success team up to speed on the methodology behind software adoption, how to deploy tools and techniques to drive adoption, and how to measure success with an out of the box solution that you don’t have to create. Once your Customer Success Managers become the experts, they will have the ability to deliver not only service but also value to your customers.


Cloud Vendors Beware! You Now Own a Share of Your Customers’ Risk

We love talking with cloud software sales professionals. They are always excited about the big deal they are chasing and how they are going to win a new account. Even (or particularly when) they face a lot of competition, their faces light up when they are talking about landing the new customer. Their energy is contagious.

And if you want to wipe the smile off their face and bring them back down to earth, all you have to do is ask them about their customer renewals.

In recent years, software sales professionals give an almost universal reaction when asked about their customer satisfaction and retention: They get quiet, and the blood drains from their faces. We consistently hear things like, “We are great at winning the initial sale, but lose a lot of customers at renewal time” or “I spend so much time trying to resolve customer problems that I can’t focus as much as I should on winning new business.”

Does this sound familiar?

Shifting user adoption risk from the customer to the vendor

An unintended consequence of cloud software is the transfer of IT adoption risk from the customer to the vendor.

The subscription software model, with low up-front costs and fast deployments, is very appealing to new customers. However, software vendors are just starting to realize the hard truth that if customers are not using the software – and getting clear and measurable business value -from doing so, they will not renew their subscriptions.

Prior to cloud-based subscription software, organizations had large up-front expenses to buy (not rent) software. The vendor received their profits up-front, and the customer bore the full risk and burden of user adoption. The customer had large sunk costs, and they were often unwilling to incur another sunk cost to replace a system that was underused.

Not anymore.

Cloud-based subscription software – with pay-as-you-go pricing – has reduced barriers to entry when it comes to acquiring new software. After all, renting inherently carries less risk than owning. But much to the chagrin of cloud software providers, it has also lowered the barriers to exit when it comes to leaving vendors.

Cloud vendors are just starting to feel the pain. And it’s going to get worse.

Cloud vendor profits require long-term customer renewals

The cloud-based, subscription standard has changed revenue models forever. With the model’s low up-front payments from the customer, cloud vendor profits now hinge on both customer volume and retention. Maximizing the number of paid licenses has always been vital to success, but now the key to sustainably increasing profits is retaining the customers over the long-term. It’s all about a customer’s lifetime value, not just what they paid this quarter.

Unfortunately, many cloud vendors focus primarily on new client acquisition, all the while losing revenue out the back door when customers leave. This is unsustainable. After all, it costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one.

Customer renewal is heavily dependent on customer usage

It’s simple: Customers don’t renew cloud subscriptions that are not used. Have you (or one of your friends) ever bought a gym membership at the start of the year with great hopes for going on a regular basis? How long did it take until the regular workouts gave way to other things? How long did it take until you (or your friend) realized that you were not getting any value from your membership fees and you just dropped your membership?

The same thing happens with cloud software. If customers aren’t using the system, they are not renewing it.

Software companies focus on building and implementing software, not ensuring IT user adoption

In short, software companies are not equipped to drive IT adoption.

Compounding the challenge for cloud software providers is that IT adoption is a people and organizational problem, not a technology problem. The core capabilities and expertise of most software vendors lie in their technical expertise. Quite simply, they know how to make great software.

What they don’t know how to do is help people and organizations manage change. The skills, methods, knowledge, and abilities you need to help people adopt and sustain new ways of working are vastly different from those needed to design, develop, and enhance great software.

Limiting IT User Adoption Risk for Cloud Vendors

Simultaneously, cloud vendors are starting to realize that while they now bear the brunt of the IT adoption risk once borne by their customers, they are not equipped to manage that risk.

It’s now showing up in the bottom line: Standard point-and-click training isn’t sufficient for addressing customers’ IT adoption needs – or the cloud vendor’s risk. After all, training focuses on the software, not the “fleshware,” or the change the new technology brings to the customer’s organization.

To fill this critical service gap – and the hole it’s drilling into profits — increasingly, software vendors are partnering with third parties to fill the critical service gap and deliver the capabilities customers need to manage organizational change and sustain IT user adoption. Success Chain is one of those organizations that can help. We focus on the people and organizational issues, so you can do what you do best – develop software.


4 Myths About Customer Success (and How to Bust Them)

If You Build It, You May End Up Wasting a lot of Time and Money!

After a decade of experience in developing and implementing customer success and user adoption strategies for clients, we have seen several pervasive myths that prevent companies from getting value from their IT investments. Because they believe these things, people may skimp on planning and strategy for adoption or “sell” people on what they will get for using the system as individuals, as opposed to putting time and effort into a customer success strategy and plan.

The following are 4 myths that get our clients into trouble:

  1.  “If you build it, they will come.” History has proven this is rarely true.  Instead, organizations need to develop a focused effort to drive and sustain effective use of the system.
  2. “They will use it because they have no choice.” People always have a choice. Even where a process cannot be completed without using the system, there are always degrees of freedom regarding how, when, where, and with what level of accuracy systems are used. These critical issues can make or break the success of a system implementation.  Instead, flip this assumption on its head. What would you need to do differently if you assumed people always had a choice about whether or not to use the system? How would it change your adoption plan and approach?”
  3. The timeline for change management ends at go-live.” Instead, customer success managers need to focus on both accelerating initial system use, and then more importantly, sustaining high-levels of effective use year over year. Their approach to sustaining adoption over the long term needs to recognize that their organization will constantly evolve, and they need to periodically adjust their adoption effort to meet new and emerging needs. Managers need to ask themselves, “What is the long term plan for sustainable adoption? How will we bring on new hires? What is the plan for upgrades to the system, and how will they be adopted?”
  4. “It all comes down to user resistance.” Often people assume that the success or failure of adoption efforts comes down to the discretion of the end-users. We have found that in many instances, even when people want to use the system, there are organizational barriers that prevent it.  An effective adoption methodology needs to identify the organizational barriers that prevent adoption and then needs to authorize or empower someone to take action to remove these barriers.

One reason these myths survive is that, based on our experience working with both software vendors and software buyers, there is a very large deficit in the skills and expertise needed for organizations to effectively drive adoption.  When an organization is considering purchasing (or renewing) an IT system, they should not only consider the system functionality but also examine the customer success services the vendor provides them for driving adoption.

SaaS vendors, in turn, are realizing that if their customers are not adopting the system, then the customer is not renewing or dramatically cutting back the number of licenses they renew.  The vendors are scrambling to figure out how it is they can help their customers increase adoption and achieve measurable business results from the use of their system.  And while many software vendors are great at providing excellent software, they have yet to really develop expertise, tools, and methods for effectively helping their clients rapidly adopt the software.

You should expect maximum value from all your IT investments, but you also need to prepare for it. With Success Chain, we lead you through a step by step process to prepare. Driving adoption of your software is as easy as following a tried and true, fail-proof recipe – just follow the steps to get the answers you need, when you need them, at your own pace, and in your own space.


Investing In IT With No Software Adoption Strategy Is A High Stakes Gamble


An article by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a research and advisory firm to leading organizations, stated that many companies in the Financial Services (FS) industry are increasing their investments in IT solutions, despite the volatile market conditions.  What is shocking is that CEB reports,

“only 24% of the controllers we recently asked believe they are realizing positive returns.”  CEB is advising organizations to get more value out of finance IT by upholding data standards, aligning IT investments with real business needs, and focusing on end-user adoption.”

Our View

At Success Chain, we have found that many firms do not have effective software adoption strategies.  Effective Software Adoption programs focus on driving desired user behavior – such as how and when people use the technology, the actions they take to ensure data quality, the degree to which they follow defined business processes, and the actions they take to ensure compliance. The skills and methods required to drive effective Software Adoption are very different from those required to implement IT systems.  Unfortunately, these are often missing from most IT implementation projects.

The CEB post indicates that only 24% of controllers believe that they realize positive returns on their investment.  Based on this, consider:

The remaining 76% of organizations do not believe they are getting a positive return on investment.  This is a ridiculously high percentage.  Even in Vegas, you have a better shot of getting a positive return!

Would you make an investment if you only had a 1 in 4 chance of getting a positive result?  Before making major IT investments, you should have a clearly defined strategy for when and how you will measure the ROI on your IT investment.  What you will find is that Software Adoption is the biggest item on this critical path.  What you will probably find is that you are not doing enough to maximize and sustain Software Adoption over the life of your system, and this is the leading cause of failed IT investments.


Before investing in IT projects, make sure you have a clear Software Adoption Strategy that aligns user behavior and adoption of the IT system with your business goals and IT ROI needs.  Further, you need to determine how you will implement your user adoption strategy and sustain your Software Adoption Program over the life of the system.  Be sure to recognize that changes in the levels and effectiveness of user adoption (over time) will change the ROI you receive from your IT investment.   Quite simply, whenever you stop measuring and driving effective user adoption, your IT investment is at risk.

Success Chain Can Help

Success Chain helps organizations maximize the ROI on their IT investments by developing and implementing software adoption strategies that maximize and sustain effective adoption over the life of the system.  We conduct software adoption assessments, develop software adoption strategies, and provide hands-on software adoption program implementation services.  Our Software Adoption Consulting and Training packages are designed to be fast and effective to enable our clients to achieve maximum software adoption results in record time with minimal effort.

If you’re a software buyer in need of in-depth help or just a quick review of your software adoption strategy and plans, then we have the right package for you. Contact us to learn more.


Six Reasons Why Every SaaS Vendor Needs a Customer Success Management Strategy

Just the other day, while talking to a SaaS cloud software vendor, we started talking about customer satisfaction and retention. They shared with me their examples of what is becoming a story that I hear all too often from SaaS vendors – that is, they have a great product and get lots of initial sales, but they lose a ton of customers at renewal. And, it’s really hurting their bottom line.

The more I talk to SaaS cloud vendors, the more I notice a growing awareness among them that the subscription business model has unexpectedly (and, arguably, unintentionally) shifted what it takes for the vendor to be successful. Cloud vendors now realize that if the customer is not successful – that is, getting measurable business value from their SaaS purchase – they will not renew.

Unfortunately, many vendors are not prepared to deal with this new reality.
SaaS vendors now realize that they cannot afford to just sell software, rely on the user interface (UI) design and overall user experience (UX), and hope the customer uses it. Retaining customers – and preserving revenues – means needing a comprehensive, actionable strategy to drive and sustain customer success.

Here are six reasons why this is true.

1. SaaS software transfers IT adoption risk from the customer to the vendor

In the old days of traditional, on-premise software, customers made big up-front software purchases. The software vendor made their profits based on license sales, regardless of usage. With subscription software, customers will only pay for (rent) licenses that are actually being used. Lower usage (IT adoption) = lower license revenues.

2. SaaS profits require long-term customer renewals and retention

The low cost, pay-as-you-go pricing means that customers need less up-front cash to purchase the software. However, the lower up-front fees mean that vendors need to retain customers longer to get the same amount of revenue. Suddenly, customer retention is critical to vendor profitability.

3. If customers are not successfully adopting your software, they are not renewing

OK, this is a no-brainer. Savvy customers – and even the not-so-savvy customers – will not keep paying for things they are not using. If customers are not adopting your software, they will not keep paying for it. Now, this doesn’t mean they will drop all licenses (though many will). It may just mean that they dramatically cut the number of paid licenses to eliminate those that are not being effectively used.

4. No matter how intuitive, fluid, or beautiful the system, it’s still a change for the users

Software vendors love to talk about how “usable” their product is, and many (most?) claim almost prescient intuition on the part of the UI. So suggesting that people might not actually use the software is virtual heresy. But really, it’s not about the software. It’s about the fact that the software is a change in users’ daily work lives. Some will love it; some will hate it. But left on their own, not all will use it to its fullest, business-value-creating extent.

5. Customers will not buy more until they use what you have already sold them

Software vendors love to add new features to their products. It’s how they keep the product fresh and competitive. It is also how they can charge you more per user.  The problem is customers won’t pay additional fees for new features if they are not using what they have already been sold. So, if you are a software vendor, before you go paying developers to create lots of new features for your software, you better make sure that people are using what they already have. And this should start with your existing customers.

6. Customers don’t know how to maximize and sustain successful IT adoption

This is, by far, my favorite. For years, customers and vendors alike assumed that if they deployed a system and trained people to use it, that everyone would. The reality is that very few systems are fully adopted. In fact, one report shows that up to 24% of the value of an IT system is lost due to poor IT adoption. Many IT implementation efforts focus on getting the system live but do nothing to ensure it is effectively used and delivering measurable business value to the customer organization. The methods used to develop and deploy a system are very different from those used to help organizations manage change and maximize IT adoption. Unfortunately, many organizations do not know how to effectively manage and sustain IT adoption programs.

SaaS vendors need to invest in Customer Success Management Strategy

SaaS vendors are quickly learning that having a great product alone is not enough. They now need to have a strategy in place to help customers quickly adopt it and make sure it is delivering business value. We are already starting to see SaaS vendors create new positions – such as Customer Success Managers ? to help clients get the most from their software. This is just the first step. In the future, customers will demand – and vendors will need to provide comprehensive customer success management programs.

Want to learn more? Success Chain helps SaaS vendors to develop and implement customer success programs. Contact us today to see how we can help.


Design the Right Metrics to Improve Software Adoption

Observation – Software User Adoption

Have you noticed that you spend a large amount of time documenting process flows but fail to measure their IT implementation? How do you know if the end-users are enacting the system as designed and contributing to the business goals?

We know that process documentation is necessary to ultimately guide system end-users once implementation is complete. However, many fail to realize that metrics need to be prepared to adequately determine if the new process flows are followed by system end-users. User Adoption metrics is the link between the new process design and the organizational change effort.

Software User Adoption – Consider This

.Important user adoption metrics determine how much deviation there is between end-user behavior and the intended new process. Knowing these levels of deviation will help you determine how to influence and guide end-users toward the new process. The right metrics don’t necessarily need to be complex or sophisticated to provide accurate insight into the impact of current business processes (e.g., how long it takes to perform a particular process).

Things to Think About

Brainstorm both intended and unintended behaviors and outcomes during implementation in order to create the proper software user adoption metrics. Here are some examples of insightful metrics:

  • How many resources touch a process from beginning to end?
  • List which resources touch that process.
  • What is the scope of the process activities performed by each resource?
  • Are there fewer or more resources (or handoffs) required due to automation?

Remember, when planning user software user adoption metrics, determine what is valuable to know about a particular process. Metrics must be designed to ensure that the behavior of the new processes delivers the intended results. With proper metrics and planning, you will have the insight needed to reinforce desired behavior.


Customer Success Management (CSM) and the Critical Path to Customer Renewals

*This blog post was written by Jason Whitehead, CEO of Tri Tuns and originally published publication on Openview Labs blog.

“Poor user adoption and the lack of perceived value by customers is the greatest challenge faced by SaaS vendors. Quite simply, a customer that is not using your software and not realizing measurable business value from their IT investment will not be your customer for long. Customer Success Management, or CSM, plays a critical role in this process.” – Jason Whitehead, CEO of Tri Tuns, LLC


SaaS vendors, recognizing that customer retention is critical for growth and profitability, are investing heavily in CSM programs. These CSM programs are charged with the ambiguous goal of “making customers successful” so that they renew their contracts and (hopefully) buy more. The challenge is most SaaS vendors don’t know what they need to do to drive customer success or where to even begin building an effective CSM capability.

In truth, Customer Success Management has as much or more to do with the people, processes and organizational development of your customer as it does with the actual system you are selling. Here is a broader, more strategic look at customer success that will show you how to focus your efforts to deliver the results you and your customers require.


There is a lot of conversation in the CSM community about where to start building a CSM team. The tendency is to spend a lot of time talking about who should lead the CSM team, whether the customer success managers should have renewal goals or not, and whether it should be part of the sales or service departments. The discussion also often centers around how to measure the performance of the CSM team and how to compensate the customer success managers. In short, most of the conversation seems to be more about how to make the CSM team successful than how to make the actual customers successful.

Setting out to build a CSM team based primarily on an internal focus and internal parameters is as pointless as trying to Feng Shui the deck of the Titanic. Sure, you can do it, but it probably won’t solve your problem. A far better starting point is seeking to understand how and when your customers determine if they are successful, and build a team based on that.


When your customer makes their initial purchase decision, they are buying your software based on their hopes and expectations that in the near future they will realize tangible business benefits from its use. All of the evidence they consider ? marketing information, product demos, references from previous customers, and reviews on social media ? all contribute to their expectations for the future.

This is very different from how customers make renewal decisions. The decision to renew is based on customers? actual experience working directly with your product in their organization. If the customers? experience is positive and the value they have received from using your software matched their expectations, customers renew quickly and easily. If it doesn’t, well, you know what happens.


When do your customers succeed or fail? How and when do they know they are successful? What does it take for them to achieve success?

One of the first things I do when working clients that are implementing SaaS solutions is help the client executives map out the critical path from the time they decide to invest in technology all the way to the point at which they will declare their program a success. This exercise typically reveals that the client had initially defined success as “deploying on-time and on-budget.”

But when I ask them what constitutes success 5 to 10 years after go-live, the answer shifts quite substantially. Now the answer is typically some version of “our employees have fully adopted the system and we are getting measurable business value from using the system.”

This shift in what constitutes success reveals two critical path items where customers struggle and where your CSM program needs to focus:

  1. The need to focus on driving effective, consistent user adoption.
  2. The need to help your customer realize (and measure) clear business value from their investment in your system.


One of the biggest problems organizations face is getting their staff to adopt technology and incorporate its use into their daily work activities. A system that sits unused is not delivering any value to the customer’s organization. This user adoption risk – the potential that staff will not adopt systems and business processes as they are designed – is perhaps the greatest threat to customer success.

Since customers will not renew a system that is sitting idle, and since you (the software vendor) need customer renewals in order to grow, you now share a portion of your customers’ user adoption risk. In many ways, customers’ user adoption risk translates into your renewal risk.


When you go to build your CSM team, you need to have a clear view of your customers? entire critical path to success. Map out what it would take for your customers to drive and sustain full user adoption of your system over the next 10 years. What you will find is that there are a large number of technology, people, process, culture and organizational dynamics that all impact customers’ adoption of your system.

Once you understand the critical path to success, you need to figure out where customers are getting stuck and why they struggle to move forward. You will find that a large number of these issues have nothing directly to do with your system. Yet you need to figure out how to get customers to resolve these issues.

You may think it is not your responsibility to help your customers resolve their internal user adoption issues, and in many ways you are right. But remember, while that may not be your responsibility, it is most definitely your problem.

Fortunately, this is not a problem you need to address alone. Tri Tuns has years of experience in working with both SaaS vendors and their clients, ensuring higher adoption rates and therefore higher renewal rates. Contact us to learn more.