As a reseller partner, your job is to make sure your customers reach their desired outcome and make the most of their IT investment. While usage isn’t the only indicator of customer success, if customers don’t fully utilise a solution, they are much less likely to renew. Tim Long, Digital Product Manager, reveals how successful adoption and consumption can be the difference between customer satisfaction and customer churn.
Adoption and consumption drive retention
The wider and faster a solution is adopted, the more likely a customer is to retain and renew it. But adoption isn’t just about reducing customer churn; the right adoption strategy can also be the key to growth. Customers who use a solution fully and see its value are more likely to expand and extend its use, and be more receptive to complementary solutions.
But how do you drive adoption and ensure consumption? Successful adoption and ongoing consumption lies in strong implementation, user onboarding and ongoing training strategies that cover every stage in the solution lifecycle.
First impressions count
For new customers, the onboarding and implementation process is the first foray into customer/partner/vendor relations, and it gives them a good taste of what the relationship will be like moving forward. Roadblocks can occur, however, if onboarding focuses solely on account set-up or certain features instead of how the customer will actually use the solution to achieve their goals or value.
Goals and value should be established with the customer before onboarding kicks off to make sure partners know exactly how to measure time to first value (the first moment the customer sees value with their new solution). Having these business goals outlined and defined is a great way to get customers up and running fast while finding the shortest path to first value. Many onboarding experiences fail if the customer feels too rushed, if the content is too opaque or if the process is too impersonal. Partners must tailor every onboarding experience to the individual customer.
Learning is key to adoption
Education is key to adoption, because when a customer understands how a solution can achieve their business outcomes, they are more likely to retain, renew or expand its use. Training and development is the key here and at every stage across the solution lifecycle.
Here at Westcon-Comstor we see the direct impact of investing in education on adoption every day. Our own research shows investing just 15% of product investment in training results in significant reduction in IT project failure and a higher ROI. Our multi-vendor training academy provides certified and specialised training programmes for both partners and customers that help drive solution adoption.
What makes education unique when it comes to driving adoption is that it is ‘one-to-many’. Training can reach a wide audience, whether it’s instructor-led training in a classroom, virtually, on the customers’ site or digitally on-demand. Customers can send any number of users to an instructor-led course or provide training to their whole workforce with an on-demand digital learning strategy. The more people that are trained, the greater the engagement and adoption.
Westcon-Comstor also provides partner training via our e-learning platform on solution lifecycle management which demonstrates how partners can leverage our resources, tools and data to achieve customer success.
Silence isn’t golden
During the consumption stage, the customer begins to see value with the solution as more users become engaged. A pitfall to avoid during this stage is silence. Too often, after the relative chaos of onboarding, partners don’t check in enough or don’t ask the right questions. Customers usually have pointed questions around specific workflows or features, which partners can gloss over in favour of high-level objectives. To avoid this, make sure that all users at every level, from executives to end users, are seeing clear value from the solution. Check-in calls should be clearly outlined to discuss predefined goals, business outcomes and ROI.
To ensure maximum value for the maximum amount of users, partners can engage with users at all levels to ensure their personal goals for the solution are being met, check in frequently to keep adoption and consumption levels up, and stay alert for any adoption red-flags or dips in usage to stay on top of customer success metrics.
The path to customer success
Partners who focus on adoption and consumption post-sale will align technology to their customers’ business outcomes, maximise customer lifetime value and increase customer and revenue retention.
Our solution lifecycle management approach enables partners to understand and analyse their customer health score using solution telemetry and vendor usage data to determine how fully a solution has been adopted and consumed. We also combine our own sales data with vendor tools, for example Palo Alto Networks provides a Best Practice Assessment (BPA) to measure adoption and determine how well its features are configured and used by the end customer.
To find out more about how solution lifecycle management can reduce churn, unlock recurring revenue and maximise customer lifetime value, download your free copy of our eBook.
And in case you missed them, read our other blogs on solution lifecycle management:
Solution lifecycle management: a new model for a new channel
Solution lifecycle management: how data-driven distribution fuels customer success