Anyone who works in a subscription, recurring revenue business knows that if customers are not using your product or service enough, they’re probably not renewing.

The harsh reality is that most customers struggle to fully adopt and achieve the business value they had hoped for when they purchased the technology. As a vendor, you know your fantastic features and functionality like the back of your hand. But too often customers are left in the dark, creating a vastly different experience to the one you envisioned when creating your product. Customers often lack the expertise, experience and change management critical for fully driving adoption. And a lack of self-service capabilities inevitably has a direct impact on your overall support costs.

Why Focus on Self-Service Adoption?

Driving self-service customer adoption is a win for both the vendor and the customer. When you equip your customers with the tools, resources, expertise, and knowledge they need to drive adoption independently, you remove significant barriers to success. Your customers can move faster, increase user adoption, and achieve greater success. And they do it on their own, without requiring expensive high-touch services and support that shrink your profits.

Investing in the tools and content to support self-service adoption reduces your time and cost to serve and is infinitely more scalable than direct service methods.

The question for vendors is, how do you provide a high-impact, scalable, and cost-effective approach that builds your customer’s capacity for driving adoption on their own?

3 Steps to Enabling Self-Service Adoption

1. Make Your Customers Want It

Carefully plan your efforts to maximize customer self-service adoption and align them with your overall customer engagement strategy. Look beyond your product to address all factors that affect customers’ success.

- What prevents your customers from driving adoption on their own? Do they lack expertise, methodologies, and resources in change management?

- Do they lack detailed product expertise?

- Do they have the IT resources required to deploy and integrate your system?

- Is their data a mess?

-  If you work in a specific niche industry, do they lack the industry domain knowledge or expertise necessary to achieve their business goals?

By identifying and addressing all the areas that prevent your customers from getting value from your software, you enable them to be more self-sufficient in driving adoption independently.

2. Deliver High-Impact, Relevant Content

Take every opportunity to demonstrate how customers benefit when they embrace a self-service adoption program.

During the sales process, demonstrate all the tools and resources you provide to assist them. Make customers see the value in these resources. Highlight any areas where you beat your competition.

When onboarding customers, provide demos showing how customers can easily find the answers they need, 24x7. Remind customers how they can move faster and achieve more value by using these resources.

Use your business review meetings (QBRs/EBRs) to remind customers of all the self-service resources you provide and highlight any new resources you have developed. Thank them for seeking answers on their own and show that they get faster responses when they have unique needs that require hands-on help from your support and success staff.

3. Build, Maintain and Deliver High-Impact, Relevant Content

Finally, you need to provide informative, action-orientated content that customers use to achieve their desired business outcomes. This content runs the gamut from training materials and online knowledge base entries, to product guides, in-app messages, emails, and more.

Prioritize and curate content based on your understanding of customer needs. Find the right mix of developing your own content and partnering with third-party experts that have existing content libraries that meet your customer needs to include content related to your product, industry domain, change management, and other topics required to enable customer independence. This approach enables you to move faster to provide what customers need.

Once you have the content, find the right tools to deliver it in a fast, accessible format that customers will use. Make sure that all information about your product is continuously updated and delivered consistently across any channel where your customers may look for it.  Ensure your tools collect data and analytics that allow you to see which content works and which content needs removal.

The Bottom Line

Implementing an effective self-service customer adoption program will reduce demands on your internal staff and enable customers to move faster and achieve more value on their own.

Increasingly, your customers evaluate the availability and effectiveness of the self-service resources you provide in their purchasing decisions. Moving quickly to build and scale your self-service programs delivers benefits to everyone and puts you ahead of the competition.

Written by Jason Whitehead, Co-founder of SuccessChain

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