Today, the software-as-a-service market is growing at an unprecedented rate, with plenty of solutions available to improve the customer experience. Most of these solutions promise numerous features and benefits, but only a few survive the market competition to reach true product adoption.
“I built a supernova product but never found any takers for it.”
“I launched a comprehensive solution but my users found it hard to comprehend and use.”
“Our competitive product was crushed under the pressure of a high churn rate.”
In my product management experience, I’ve come across enough of these pain statements to make me wonder if adoption was given enough consideration in the product development. Adoption as a strategy should be embedded into the DNA of a product during the formative stages rather than being an afterthought. Unless customers find the product easy to comprehend, easy to use and easy to implement, the product will struggle to succeed in the market.
How do you make sure your product is designed for customers to easily use? Here’s a checklist of steps.
How do you make sure your product is designed for customers to easily use? Here’s a checklist of 10 steps to ensure your product is adoption-ready.
1. Product documentation
Often products fail due to insufficient and inaccurate documentation which do not help the customer understand the nuances and usage guidelines. In some cases, the documentation is rushed through the development and approval processes, leading to grammatical errors, content errors, and an absence of localization and visual representation.
Create the right documentation for product adoption
Invest in creating documentation that comprehensively covers persona and scenario-based usage of a product as well as a visual representation of complex data models. The documentation should also address product limitations, best practices, and business examples and be easy to understand.
Product enablement and launch should go hand in hand. Without sufficient enablement sessions and materials, getting people to use the product or feature will always remain a visionary idea. The timing of the enablement plans is also key to steering adoption. Delayed or minimal enablement leads customers to self-explore, which can lead to a negative perception of the product being “difficult to use.”
Create an enablement strategy
For better adoption, chalk out an enablement strategy in parallel to product development. Be flexible to learn from one session to another and dynamically introduce changes. Combine the enablement sessions and webinars with feedback to keep learning and rocking.
A new product needs many support channels to address incoming queries and concerns before it settles down in the market.
3. Product adoption support
A new baby in the house requires a lot of attention to adapt to the outside environment. Similarly, a new product needs many support channels to address incoming queries and concerns before it settles down in the market. But however great the product’s features are, its growth would become questionable without a solid strategy that includes sufficient support channels.
Examine your support channels
In today’s digital era, invest in the latest and greatest digital support channels to ease customer adoption. The support could range from traditional methods of case-based support and FAQ documents to AI-based query resolution, chatbots, and in-app guidance. Also, create troubleshooting guides to help support staff provide seamless resolutions to product queries. After all, a happy customer will be an early adopter.
4. Customer onboarding
Imagine an admin being stranded with a product after the initial sale, not knowing where to start, lost in the documentation and wondering which artifact to refer to. A product without a customer onboarding plan will lead to user churn.
Create a smooth onboarding experience
In alignment with the adage “first impressions are the most lasting,” work on creating a first impression with a smooth onboarding experience. Some successful products send personalized onboarding emails highlighting key resources, support channels, and ways to collaborate with other users. This creates a positive image of the product and helps reduce support costs by anticipating initial queries related to either product setup or relevant resources.
Often, product or feature launches fail when the customer doesn’t understand the business value.
5. Business value articulation
Often, product or feature launches fail when the customer doesn’t understand the business value. Products can lose users if they don’t address a few key questions, such as “Why is this feature important?” and “What’s in this for me?”
Clearly state the business value of product adoption
Articulating the business value in all possible forums, including enablement sessions and documentation, will help users see the product potential and benefits.
6. Product sampling
Imagine buying a garment without trying it on. Most would not take that chance. So why would customers invest in products without sampling them? Sampling or trial experiences help in multiple ways. Users can try the product at work, the business value articulation becomes clearer, and the onboarding experience gets improved.
Free trials help with product adoption
Deliver trial instances to enable customers to see your product in action. This helps articulate the solution benefits and also provides a playground to self-learn, deflecting some initial product queries. A win-win situation for all! Promote these trials in marketing websites, newsletters, and other communities so that customers can easily locate them.
Feedback from stakeholders helps get products, strategies and even people into their best forms. Without a carefully crafted outreach plan that involves feedback capture and analysis, a product will fall short of meeting end-user requirements.
Invest in an interactive outreach process that connects with customers to understand product challenges, future needs, feedback on existing features, and ideas to improve.
Develop interactive outreach
Invest in an interactive outreach process that connects with customers to identify product challenges, future needs, feedback on existing features, and ideas to improve. This feedback should be included in the product backlog for future enhancements. Let your customers know that they are being heard.
8. Champions in the field
In every arena of life, we need advocates who champion for us. A new product needs field champions to stand by it and fight for its entry and survival in the market. Without an investment in creating this layer of champions the product would find it difficult to survive in the competitive market.
Find support from enthusiastic champions
Alongside product launch preparations, create a layer of product champions who help in user onboarding, collaborate with other users and promote the adoption of the product in the market.
9. Adoption metrics
To gauge the efficacy of the product adoption, invest in building adoption metrics and insightful dashboards. This helps provide a view of the product adoption progress and also shows where the adoption effort needs to be strengthened or invested.
Monitor product adoption levels through usage stats and other metrics
Some typical adoption metrics like adoption rates, daily or monthly active users, and usage frequency can be used to monitor adoption levels. Along with product adoption stats, keep a finger on the usage stats of the adoption resources for identifying improvements.
Choose the right product adoption strategies, create an ecosystem of supporters, allow them to show results and then create your success stories.
10. Launch, learn and repeat
“Launch, learn and repeat” is a great mantra for successful product adoption. Be sure to continuously learn from the feedback, failure reasons and best practices of other products in the market. These will help your adoption initiatives improve until they become the best.
Remember that adoption takes an ecosystem and time to rise and thrive. As the saying goes — slow and steady wins the race. Choose the right product adoption strategies, create an ecosystem of supporters, allow them to show results and then create your success stories.