Customer Activation

Five Stage Framework To Accelerate Product Adoption!

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An effective training plan forms the bedrock of accelerating product adoption, moulding user behavior, encouraging active engagement, and eventually driving value.

In this session, I'll explain the five-stage framework to accelerate Product Adoption and the best practices to design, develop, and deliver effective onboarding, training, and support for your teams.

Gokul Suresh:
Yeah, everyone. Thanks for joining me in the session at the Berkeley Growth Summit, I'm excited to be presenting and I have an interesting topic for you. It's called the Five Stage Framework to Accelerate Product Adoptioning. A little bit more about me, I'm Gokul Suresh from Whatfix. I lead and manage the marketing team at Whatfix, and this year is a prerecorded session.

Gokul Suresh:
So you can come back to it whenever you like, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me at gokul@whatfix.com or tweet out to me @I_mgokul. A bit about the company that I work for, Whatfix is a Digital Adoption platform that caters to SMBs and enterprises across the world with our in-app interactive guidance and content offering capabilities.

Gokul Suresh:
With Whatfix, you can transform your user-software infraction by efficiently driving end User Adoption and digital proficiency. And we've been hoping companies of all sciences and some of the marquee customers that you can see on the screen are Microsoft, Experian, Cardinal Health, Cisco, and many others.

Gokul Suresh:
So we have these companies streamlined [inaudible 00:01:14] adoption by empowering them to provide free on time, enact user onboarding training, and all the proactive support at the time of need. Okay. So I've been with Whatfix right from the start as the first marketer, and that's how I am knee deep into the world of product led truth and adoption. And I've created plenty of content about particular option, which you can check out at the Whatfix Academy that is academy.whatfix.com or even my LinkedIn page. So also feel free to connect on LinkedIn, and if you have any questions, please do ask.

Gokul Suresh:
Okay, so that's the bit about me and Whatfix, so let's dive right into the presentation. Spoiler alert about the presentation. This is going to be really easy to consume. And after about the flow in such a way that you get the maximum out of the next 20 minutes.

Gokul Suresh:
So the first thing that I have in store for you is all about the benefits that we'll be getting on implementing the Product Adoption ideas that I'm sharing with you today. So let's start with why you should have a deeper interest in Product Adoption. Well, companies with high User Adoption rates generally enjoy lower CPA, well, that means more conversion on your leads. This is especially applicable for your freemium to premium conversion or maybe basic to a higher package.

Gokul Suresh:
Then secondly, higher retention. So once adoption is good, then more customers will stick with your product, and that actually adds up to the third point, which is higher marketing ROI. Obviously the first and second point leads to this, then higher customer lifetime value. So that means higher possible [err 00:02:58] , and more opportunities to renew the subscription upsell or cross-sell.

Gokul Suresh:
Then lastly, lower customer marketing and retention costs. So this is one point that justifies everything. Well, if all of this doesn't drop your boot, then I don't know what will. And now we know about the benefits and I'm sure that plenty more that can be added to the list, but before you understand how to achieve all of this by improving your end User Adoption or Product Adoption, you should first understand the Why behind it.

Gokul Suresh:
So I'm a big fan of Simon Sinek, Start with Why, and I believe that the Why behind what you do is the most important factor. And even when it comes to adoption, this is critical. So this here is a quote that I love, People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe. Well, do you agree to that?

Gokul Suresh:
When I tried correlating this code with adoption... So there was this interesting thought I had it's about the gap between the expected value and the realized value of a product, basically what you think your product's value prop is and why should anyone care about it? To understand this? I want you to get deeper understanding of the entire production scenario and to go deeper into what Product Adoption really is and why you should care. And then we can find and fix it with the framework.

Gokul Suresh:
Well, as you already know, it's a growing password and there are far too many interpretations of what it really is, but what is the definition? So by definition, Product Adoption is simply the state in which a digital product or tool is used as intended to its maximum extent possible. In most cases, this is how Product Adoption looks for digital products. It starts out with the high, that there's a great user engagement in productivity, and then it gradually decreases over time due to irregular support or sporadic user engagement.

Gokul Suresh:
So the traditional case such as this happens with most product companies, especially because of the focus on the initial onboarding activities and then ignore continuous learning needs of users. But the thought is what you must first understand is how this process works. And for this, you'd have to wear your prospect's shoes and pick up the magnifying glass.

Gokul Suresh:
So in a user's perspective, the way of buying are... Switching to a new product is actually a multi-stage psychological process which all prospective customers go through from learning of a new product to becoming a loyal customer or even rejecting it. So typically this is how our users notice perceive articles through buying a product.

Gokul Suresh:
So because of the stages, the first thing in the stage would be awareness, wherein the prospects actually come to know about the product, but lacks sufficient information about it. Then they go onto the stage, which is interest. They try to get more information and understand the fitment for the use case. Then whether it solves a pain problems, pin points, or not in.

Gokul Suresh:
Then third, evaluation. They consider whether the product is beneficial, within the budget, and whether it will give them the expected ROI. Often evaluating comes Trial or Demo. So this is where they get the first hand taste of the product. So this could be through a freemium model or a completely personalized demonstration. This ultimately helps in determining whether the product is worth their time and money, and finally, Adoption or Rejection. So ultimately the prospect decide to adopt the product or look for something else.

Gokul Suresh:
Now, just think back, I just told you two scenarios, Product Adoption from product owners perspective and now from a user's perspective. So just to clear things up, I wanted to take up terminologies that are prevalent in today's SAS world, and there are multiple ways to describe Product Adoption, right? So these are three common terminologies that you'll come across with the content that is created and it's available online. So you would see Product Adoption, User Adoption, and Digital Adoption, but what is work?

Gokul Suresh:
And it's confusing and much like how we are so confused on the names of who is who in the Marvels and [inaudible 00:07:33]. But I mean, I'm a big fan and this is something which I just thought this is an absolute awesome meat. So what about the Product Adoption, User Adoption, and Digital Adoption? What do you think? Well, truth be told they're more or less the same, but each of them has a slight change in perspective. So let me explain that.

Gokul Suresh:
The Product Adoption is seen from the perspective of a product owner or manager, whose aim is to make the usage of the product by its prospects or users to its maximum extent possible. And this could be a common term that is mostly used by let's say, owners or marketers who talk about this [inaudible 00:08:16]. But when it comes to User Adoption, it is more what the user's perspective, investing mentally accept the usage of a new product in their lives.

Gokul Suresh:
In the previous slides I did show you how a user's psychological thought process to buying the products. And User Adoption is just an extension of the last stage that is once they decide to go for the product. Then finally, Digital Adoption. This is simply the corporate jargon, which is used widely by managers at larger companies whose primary aim is to help their employees adopt their in-house technologies. So in most cases, the larger enterprises will have multiple products for their employees like a CRM, ERP, SCM, and many others.

Gokul Suresh:
Digital Adoption is mostly focused on enabling these companies for making their employees more effective and efficient. An interesting fact here is that quite recently, Gartner has recognizable platforms called Digital Adoption platforms. You should definitely check them out.

Gokul Suresh:
Okay. So the reason I want to be clear about all of these topics is because, at Whatfix we have been seeing a lot of cases from various different backgrounds. Commonly, there are two recurring types here. So SAS product looking for adoption strategies for the massive user base or a big enterprise looking for adoption strategies to increase productivity of their employees on the application with the use in house.

Gokul Suresh:
So if you club both of these ideas together, which are recurring, there's something that comes really good out of it. And that's what we did, and we came up with this idea and this is what we preached to all of our customers. So Product Adoption in our eyes is a huge umbrella in which we accommodate various different processes seen individually in many cases. We allow our customers to tackle them collectively with our Digital Adoption platform, and this explanation will actually set complete context for you when we discuss the five stage framework in the next half.

Gokul Suresh:
So what all fits under the umbrella. So to start with, User Onboarding. Love at first sight is a myth, but if done right, you can make sure that your product inspires love at first impression. User onboarding is that period when a new user, the prospective customer has the first impression of the product and is guided all the way to using the product. And this could be a lot tricky. I mean, it's not just a product UX or UI that impresses, but also how you actually drive your users to their first touch gratification or rather commonly known as the Aha moment.

Gokul Suresh:
Typically the chances are 10 to 30% of the new users who have signed up for your product for trial or demo, never even set foot on the product. So why would that be? I mean, there are many ways to engage and activate the user at this point, say for example, you could offer intelligent defaults like product tool that gives them the piece of the value Aha moment or instant gratification.

Gokul Suresh:
So here's an example of a product tool creator on Microsoft Office 365. Or you could also go with the traditional way of explaining the Why, that interactive videos, step-by-step tutorials or newsletters, even blogs, or even a game. If I'm not 11, this is the one with Duolingo, and I'm sure that this is something you will find in any adoption related presentation. Duolingo is just pretty awesome there.

Gokul Suresh:
So ultimately a user who achieves their first success with your application quickly is most likely to stay. And if the user is unable to get those initial success with the application, possibilities, they will turn.

Gokul Suresh:
So, that brings us to the next point in the Product Adoption umbrella, that is continuous product training. So considering that the users are already on board by now, the next step is to train the user who is in fact the customer. So now we need to enable and empower them and make them a power user from a regular user. And there are lots of ways you can do with, traditionally it's more virtual and classroom based training documentations, videos et cetera.

Gokul Suresh:
They do work really well, but in many cases, there's the fact of knowledge retention that you should be considering. A few methods that work really well here is training with bite-sized modules, popularly known as micro learning, and the way we deal with that is by providing new users training within the application but real time interactive walkthroughs. Here is an example. So this not only helps users understand the process, but also learn by doing.

Gokul Suresh:
So, interestingly, according to LinkedIn's Workplace learning report in 2019, 49% end users prefer to learn at the point of need rather than being trained before the moment of application. I mean, that's a number which is alarmingly rising and government fears that's going to be the main thing at the speed. Now the third bit in the umbrella, that's the Release Training. So this is something that many products overlook.

Gokul Suresh:
So training is never a one size fits all, and it's all about consistency. Here's an interesting factor, and this is actually pretty interesting. So after one hour people retain less than half of the information presented and after one day, people forget more than 70% of what was taught in training and after six days, 75% forgotten. So, I mean, just explaining that makes me wonder how much of all of this presentation would you remember in a few days?

Gokul Suresh:
And I'm sure if you want to refresh it, you can come back to the video if needed, but ultimately that's the paradox, right? So the user who is now the customer should be getting the consistent training to make sure that potential of the product is also realized and utilized. So that's the bit about the knowledge retention and mind you, I mean, when the user who's now your customer should get consistent training to make sure the potential of the product is completely realized and utilized.

Gokul Suresh:
That brings us to the last one in our Production Adoption umbrella, that is a customer success and proactive support. So it's best to club both of those as they work in tandem with each other. Well, if support is really required to drive your user's action, then you can be sure that there's a gap in your adoption strategy, but it's still not late to plugin. And that's why the whole customer success steps in. With proactive customer success in place, you can make sure your adoption strategy has less gains in their [inaudible 00:15:30]. So, that's the paradox umbrella.

Gokul Suresh:
With that context set I'll now dive into the framework as promised. So this framework is what we preach to our customers to get that adoption in place. And in our process, we begin by understanding their existing processes and then developing a plan accordingly so that they can pull it off systematically. So I'll move on to the first bit of the framework, which is actually Design. So designing your adoption strategy, that is where you start and what would that include? I mean, the first point mapping your objectives and goals to your users, onboarding and training requirements, and then designing the processes to be simpler with adoption in mind.

Gokul Suresh:
So in many cases adoption strategies are taken up as an afterthought. So if you make sure it's in place at the planning stage itself, then it will be smooth sailing for you. And if you're already having a product in place, then plan out for the next release, then totally in sync your values to fit the KPIs of the user.

Gokul Suresh:
So this again is a critical partner, empathize with the users and how your product actually helps them. Once you know that you will get the synergy for your own product as well. Then decide the timing, delivery and modalities of training and plan on engagement strategies across the entire journey or user life cycle. I don't want to stress more on this, this is something which is very much prevertal. Consider the entire user journey when you're planning out, when you're designing your whole adoption strategy, rather than just the onboarding. That is something which many people overlook.

Gokul Suresh:
Then finally align the training objectives with the business objectives. So this obviously is the overarching goal for any Product Adoption initiative. So with these things in place, you will get a lot of clarity in the gaps that you may have and how your users perceive your Product Adoption usability. And this will definitely be a part of the user research, and so make sure that there's a good synergy between the UX designers and the product owners.

Gokul Suresh:
And that brings us to the second bit, which is where you gear up and start executing the plan of action. Developing the training scope and conduct. So here are the points here. So develop a clear, easy to understand, easy to maintain training content, which is also made available on demand for the user. So keep in mind that the pace and ability to learn would vary from user to user. There will be some digital natives who are really quick and there would be laggards. There will be people who are not that tech savvy, who are slow. So keep in mind about the pace. Then [inaudible 00:18:23] training content to fit the user's expectations by understanding the psyche and more of we're thinking from their shoes.

Gokul Suresh:
So in the design stage, you would also have gotten deeper into the persona. So this is the time to customize your product experience accordingly based on the persona and based on what your target audience would want. Now, under the important thing here is to create the content specific to the training mechanism that you want to use. Say, for example, if your product is low touch with less human touch, human involvement, then invest in a self-serving training and support mechanism, which helps the user learn at their own leisure.

Gokul Suresh:
So this could be Why, interactive walkthroughs, a chat bot, community or forums rather, then learning management systems, or even give me a fire training. But what if your product needs a lot of handholding and it's very sophisticated and complex, then it's high, that's right. So then we'll for something which is scalable. So your users would need something which is more blended. That approach has to be censoring. It should have some censoring mechanisms for the regular FAQ's, but also human effort where we're supporting the larger problems. Where there is a lot of complications involved, a human will actually help.

Gokul Suresh:
So many applications goes for this methodology of adoption where the FAQ's are resolved easily, and the customer success focuses on the critical problems that the user faces. And the final point is segment and customize the onboarding and training strategies according to the user's proficiency. As I mentioned earlier, training and adoption is not one size fits all. So there would be users who had digital natives, as I said earlier, and who need actually less training and support. But you also have to consider those who are less tech savvy. They need a lot more handholding.

Gokul Suresh:
So once you have the training scope and the content developed, the next bit is about delivery. So delivery is another critical aspect when it comes to ensuring adoption. Of course, this is the tipping point as well. So if it works, your users will join and they will be more loyal. Come on, they're getting the adoption that they want. If not, it's time to go back on the sketch board re-address stage one and two. But first and foremost, the format of training delivery is the most important thing for training success and higher adoption.

Gokul Suresh:
Isn't easily learnable for you users, I mean, will it captivate them? It's up to you to figure out what works best for them in those cases. Then delivery method should be in line with the general user behavior. So is the method in sync with user expectations and demand? Does it engage the user in the way they are expecting? And of course, this all depends on the category of your product and your end users. And in fact, in the recent times, there are many companies seeing more success with on demand in-app digital training methods, e-learning or [inaudible 00:21:43], gamified, and more interactive methods of learning and training rather than classroom training than produce the documentations.

Gokul Suresh:
And finally the training should also be continuous. And you must also account for post-training support. I'm sure I've repeated this point over and over again. And I still stand by it. I mean, this is the most pivotal part of adoption, and that is consistency. So for this aspect, you should be splitting the delivery in multiple phases. So we had discussed this briefly under the product option umbrella. So the different phases of delivery could be customer acquisition phase, which involves the initial onboarding and getting the user activated by not just one, but multiple [inaudible 00:22:32].

Gokul Suresh:
Then the power user phase wherein you're activating a regular user to move a power user. And often this can be done by incentivizing the shift, and if you make this happen, then you know for sure that those users are there to stay. Then the refresher or release training phase, where in you remind them or give them a refresher training on the unused parts of the product, or even the newly added features to the existing users.

Gokul Suresh:
Then the final thing is customer success phase, where a new agenda is to make sure that the user utilize the complete potential of the product and [inaudible 00:23:11]. So this is where you gather the feedback and also plan out a potential renewal or upset. So moving on to the next bit, that is a stage four, Analyzing. So this is all about measuring and analyzing the effectiveness of adoption, and it's very much important obviously, as you guys already know that.

Gokul Suresh:
So for this, you should be developing key training and adoption metrics to track effectiveness. So just go beyond the adoption metrics, like log-in frequency, times spent on the product. I mean, these things are very easy to simulate, but instead you can go with metrics like processes executed, engagement rate, featured adoption rate, right? So all of these things actually gives you a better idea rather than the vanity metrics, which is already there.

Gokul Suresh:
Then focus on the perceived value. So perform quantitative research to better understand what makes new users adopt existing features. And even the existing users adopt new features, that actually will give you a lot more perspective. Then the last stage in the framework would be Iterating the gaps in the strategy. This is definitely again, very important.

Gokul Suresh:
It's highly unlikely that you will hit home run at the first shot, but with consistency in a lot of streamlined efforts, you can definitely give the winning total. And you can hit that product adoption bolt right out of the box, but iteration and refining your existing strategy from time to time becomes really important for this reason. So apply, improvements to your strategy in a gradual or progressive manner. So don't strive for the perfection, right from the start.

Gokul Suresh:
Remember that increasing adoption is a human process. It requires a lot of behavioral understanding and find you. Then secondly, space out the introduction of new iterated practices. So that is why you're refining take a slice of the existing set of practices, improve on the ones that are in working based on your analytics data. Then in each improvement cycle, introduce techniques to address the specific needs of the user, rather than adopting the set of techniques closure.

Gokul Suresh:
I mean, in many cases you may go full blown on adoption practices without knowing its impact, but be specific to the requirement at hand for a great impact. Then finally leverage your champion, your champion users humanize the whole new changes, and you can do it through let's say testimonials, videos, interviews, or even your community. So incentivize your champions and make them your suit sales. So this will actually speed up your adoption way more.

Gokul Suresh:
Well, that's a five stage framework illustrating Product Adoption. To be Frank, the framework is actually just a baseline for all your Product Adoption activities and it needs to be tinkered properly to work for your organization. But ultimately this is how you start and that's how you progress and you have to keep at it. And believe me, if you stick with it, then for sure you're going to crack Production Adoption properly.

Gokul Suresh:
I mean, you can see those drafts the way it has to actually improve that's why you're going to get. And in fact, that is something that we validated and learn from the multiple iterations we have had with our customers at Whatfix. And well, thanks a lot for watching the session. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to write to me at gokul@whatfix.com, twit out to me @I_mgokul on Twitter.

Gokul Suresh:
And if you're interested in learning more about Whatfix's Digital Adoption platform, and you want a personalized demo of Whatfix you can go to Whatfix.com or join us in an expert session on Product Adoption. So we want to have it later this month and you can register on the link on screen. That is bit.ly/whatfix-demo. So that's it. So thanks a lot guys. Hope you guys enjoyed the session. Let me know the feedback and have a good one. Bye-bye.

 

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Gretchen Duhaime
Gokul Suresh
Marketing Manager and 1st Marketer at Whatfix
Gokul Suresh manages and leads the Growth Marketing efforts at Whatfix, opening up newer channels and exploring better ways to evangelize Digital Adoption.