In the olden days (you know, about a week ago), before the rise of cloud computing, software vendors could use a lot of big words, slick demos, and fancy marketing props to entice people to buy a system. They were selling hope.
Sales are easy. Customer Retention is hard.
And many vendors are feeling the pain. The above video from Adobe does a great job of highlighting the issue. SaaS systems, with low upfront fees and the relatively easy ability to switch to a completely different system, enables customers to learn for themselves what your system can deliver.
Subscription pricing means you need to prove your worth. Everyday.
The impact: every time you have a renewal sales discussion, your customer immediately knows if you are BSing them or not. And they won’t tolerate BS.
Ensure your customers' success if you want to keep them.
What this means is SaaS vendors need to ensure they stop BSing customers and start ensuring their success. Make sure your customer has achieved measurable business value from investing in your system. To do this, evolve your sales, implementation, and customer management processes.
Help customers address the two biggest issues they face – namely, driving and maintaining full, effective user adoption of the system AND realizing the clear, measurable business benefits. If you can’t do this, your only choice is to try to BS your customer.
Good luck with that.
Please share your thoughts and experiences on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn.
1. Expected ROI over the life of the CRM investmentDon’t just look at implementation costs or total cost of ownership (TCO). Make sure the expected return and lifetime value is both positive and significant enough to warrant the time and effort required to implement and maintain the system. Perform a scenario analysis to weight the expected ROI to adjust for different levels of user adoption. Will this still seem like a good investment if you don’t get effective adoption?
2. Current level of user adoption of existing systems
3. Impact of future changes to users’ jobs and performance requirements
4. Identification of all drivers and barriers to IT user adoption
6. Identification of resources & budget required to drive initial user adoption
7. Plan and budget resources for sustaining user adoption over the life of the system
8. Defined approach for ensuring the CRM system stays relevant
There are many lessons here for IT departments (and, arguably, the organization as a whole) before it invests in a CRM System.
New 2014 mortgage rules require lenders consider customers’ ability to repay a loan before extending credit
Lenders (and others) need to consider their ability to achieve ROI before investing in CRM systems
1. Look at how much money you send out now (license and implementation costs) and how much value demand to get back (increase in sales, decrease in costs, or other measures of ROI on your CRM investment).
2. Critically examine and rate your ability to actually achieve the returns you require (ability to drive and sustain user adoption and benefits realization).
3. Oh, and depending on the size of the investment, you may require some sort of collateral to help incentivize successful payback of your investment (for CRM investments, this may be tying executive compensation to CRM success).
Don’t invest in Sub-Prime CRM.
Before you write a check for any CRM system, make sure it is worth it. It is better to not make any investment than to throw away a pile of money and waste tons of time on a system that is doomed to failure before it even begins.
Require a User Adoption & ROI Plan before you spend a dime on CRM!
1. Is there a written plan for how we will ensure a positive ROI on our CRM investment?2. Have we done a thorough analysis to identify all the drivers and barriers that will affect user adoption (and ROI)?3. Have we defined exactly what ROI goals must be achieved in what amount of time before we proceed?4. Is there a single, senior executive who will be held accountable (including having a personal financial stake) for meeting ROI goals on the CRM investment?
If you can’t say yes to all of the above questions, then the loan is not approved!
I do some of my best thinking when I’m exercising. My mind shuts off all the day-to-day life noise and drifts off into uncharted areas.
With the holiday season upon us, and the inevitable (though often short-lived) rise in people wanting to make changes in their lives (can you say “new years’ resolutions to get in shape”?) it occurred to me that there are a lot of lessons one can learn from the gym that can help us improve adoption of IT systems.
Look around the gym (it’s OK) to see how you can deliver successful IT adoption
Pretty much no matter what gym you go to, you’ll see all different kinds of people, in all different stages of fitness. There are people who are clearly new to the healthy lifestyle arena. And there are specimens that could be on the cover of a fitness magazine. The range of ages, comfort, skill, and experience of the people in the gym is quite similar to the diverse stakeholders that you must get to adopt your new technology.
Getting people to adopt regular, sustained, effective fitness into their lives requires that they change their behavior. They have to change how they conduct their daily personal life activities. This is very similar to getting people to adopt your IT systems. It’s about getting people – all sorts of diverse groups of people – to change their behavior and how they conduct their daily work life activities.
So, what can we learn?
1. Take a holistic, systemic approach
Achieving a healthy lifestyle includes many things, not just exercise. You need to look at multiple areas of your life – diet, drinking, smoking, sleeping – all affect your level of fitness. People who are truly looking to get in shape realize they need to look at ALL of the elements that affect their life, and it’s not just plugging in 30 minutes on the bike every other day. The may end up changing how they shop for groceries, where, when and what they eat, how they spend their free time, and even the people with whom they associate.
- Look beyond system functionality and business processes
- Address organizational policies
- Examine your rewards and incentives
- Consider your communication and employee engagement approaches
- Look at how you manage user performance
When people join a gym for the first time they often consult a personal trainer. The trainer helps guide you through the process of learning how to exercise and increase our comfort level using the equipment and will often offer suggestions of how to change things outside the gym in order to achieve success inside the gym. The trainer makes it easy for you to through the initial adoption of a healthy lifestyle and then assists you in keeping it going.
Similarly, consulting an expert in IT user adoption can help you drive initial use when a system is first live and then help you sustain it over the long term. Many organizations assume user adoption will just happen – or that it will be mandatory – only to find that they experience difficult, expensive, avoidable problems.
3. Have a plan
People who are serious about their fitness develop a plan (often with help of an expert). The plan is customized (such as losing 100 pounds or training for an Iron Man) based on the goals of the individual or a group.
Having a plan makes achieving your goal easy. It lets you break things into small, manageable chunks. It gives you a schedule and structure for taking action. It lets you know what you need to do from one day to the next. It lets you make the best use of your time and resources.
Many IT projects have a plan and project schedule for how they will build, test, and deploy the system. But they do not have a plan for how they will ensure it is used and delivering business value.
Before you even think about moving forward with funding an IT project, make sure you have identified all of the issues that you need to address in order to drive user adoption. And make sure you have a written plan for how you will make sure these issues are addressed, at every level of your organization.
4. Motivation is key
People find all sorts of tricks to motivate themselves at the gym. Some work with a trainer. Others have a gym buddy. Others yet take classes for that group motivation. And others do it by spending an exorbitant amount of time admiring themselves in the mirror.
The point is, knowing how to exercise and use the equipment is worthless unless people are actually inspired enough to go and do it.
The same is true with the adoption of IT systems. Develop incentive and reward systems to encourage adoption. This may include adjusting compensation plans – especially for commission-based staff. And it may involve things like helping managers to recognize and reward people who do an exceptional job incorporating the new technology into their daily work practices.
Look around the gym and you will see lots of people who have set goals and measure progress. People often print out their workouts and then mark their progress. Others carry around notebooks that they update after every set. And some go for the good old fallback position of just stepping on the scale every day.
The point is, they know the direction they want to go, they are taking steps to get there, and they are measuring results so they know if they are succeeding or if they need to make adjustments.
Do the exact same thing with your user adoption program. For example, I helped one organization set specific weekly goals for how people should use the new CRM. We specified the minimum number of records each person needed to create and update each week. We identified which modules they needed to use. And then we measured the results.
So what happened? We had very quick adoption of the system and we were able to sustain it over the long-term.
6. Make it fun
Working out doesn’t need to be a drag. People find all sorts of ways to enjoy it. They try new things. They try classes, they work out in groups, and they get dirty. The point is that doing something that is challenging and good for you doesn’t have to be hard or annoying. There are lots of ways that you can find fun in what you do.
The same is true when it comes to embracing technology. There are all sorts of ways to engage your user base to help them find the fun in learning a new system. You can run contests. You can make it a team effort. You can give prizes. You can change the physical environment to make the learning experience enjoyable.
Challenge yourself to find new ways of learning new systems and behaviors. If you embrace your creativity, you will be surprised what you can achieve. Oh, and you can even make the fabled ‘user resistance’ a thing of the past.
7. Keep going
OK, this one is a no-brainer. Fitness is not a one-and-done adventure. You need to incorporate it into your life and keep it going throughout your life.
The same is true with user adoption. Getting initial adoption of your system at the time of go-live is of no real value if a year or two later people are not using the system. To get full value from your IT investment you need to sustain effective user adoption over the life of the system.