Using Customer Success Management (CSM) To Remove Barriers to IT User Adoption

When I speak with the leaders of Customer Success Management and IT User Adoption programs, they often ask about how they can make their program more effective for increasing customer renewals. This leads to a discussion about the focus, methods, and tools they use to deliver their CSM service.

More often than not, it becomes clear that the CSM tools and methods they use are part of the problem.

The goal of CSM is to help customers adopt your system

At its core, the purpose of Customer Success Management is to help your customers fully adopt and maximize the value they receive from your software or service.

Many times, the root-cause issue that needs to be addressed is that people are simply not adopting the system. This is almost never a technical issue. If your team of customer success managers can maximize and sustain effective user adoption, the value to the customer (and renewals to you) will follow.

First, identify all barriers preventing user adoption

Many people assume user adoption is a 100% discretionary effort on the part of the end-user. This leads them to focus all of their efforts on trying to help the end-user know how to use the system and see how it will make their lives easier. While this may make sense, it’s not a realistic expectation.

The reality is quite different. User adoption is not entirely a choice made by the end-user. There are many non-discretionary factors that can make users unable to adopt the system – even when they want to use it!

In our experience at Tri Tuns, almost every IT project has some organizational or system-related issue that actually prevents people from using the system. These issues fell outside the users’ span of control and required action on the part of management to resolve. Yet often, management was unaware of these issues or how they prevented system usage.

In order to be effective, your CSM methodology needs to help customers identify barriers to IT adoption. But how will you do it?

  • Do you know how to identify potential IT adoption barriers?
  • Does your current CSM methodology actively uncover all barriers that affect IT adoption?
  • If not, how will you change your approach?

Then, remove the barriers to IT user adoption

Once you have identified barriers to IT user adoption, how will you make sure your customer takes action to remove them? Sadly, driving and sustaining effective IT adoption is not a core capability of many client organizations. Even if you are able to help your customers identify barriers to adoption, it does not mean that they will know how to resolve them. You may need to help.

Change your customer success management approach

Like most initiatives, your CSM capabilities and approach will need to mature over time. Initially, your CSM team can be successful just by helping customers get minor increases in adoption and ROI. However, to maximize customer renewals and, if possible, expand accounts, you will need to adjust your approach to help customers fully resolve their IT adoption issues. To do so, you will need to expand your knowledge regarding the root causes of IT adoption and the most effective methods to influence it.