November 27, 2017 Morgan Hennessy

The Most Important Part Of Your Product Isn’t The Product Itself

As seen in Forbes

In business, it is generally taught that a good product will bring a good return. Usually, as that business continues to grow, so does a product’s list of capabilities. As a product gets better, an upward correlation between consumer loyalty and the size of the customer base is expected.

However, I have been in the software industry for 30 years and have worked with thousands of clients across a variety of industries, and I have noticed a very common yet startling recurrence: “Lack of functionality in our current system” is the No. 1 reason clients switch to a competitor.

At first glance, this may seem like an obvious and understandable statement. However, the striking part of this statement is that, more often than not, the functionality they are looking for actually does exist in their current system. So why aren’t they using it?

This leads me to one conclusion: A product is only as strong as its user adoption.

In other words, clients are leaving companies that fit their needs simply because they are unaware of a particular product’s full functionality. This is a huge problem when it comes to the bottom line.

The cost of acquisition for a new client is far higher than the cost of losing a client. This is especially true if the reason for client loss doesn’t even require any new developments. Furthermore, the cost of losing a client is far greater than any solution for client education.

So What Causes Poor User Adoption?

I have been on countless demonstrations where the potential client is looking to leave a provider because they are only using a fraction of the software’s capabilities. This is obviously a communication issue, which is highly relevant in the cloud-based product industry.

User adoption can be correlated to the training platforms that companies deliver for the end user.

Due to increased pricing pressures, cloud-based companies have shifted to a self-training model during implementation. This approach requires the user to self-educate and self-discover all functionality within the platform. Additionally, the rise of competition has shifted client bases toward non-committal attitudes. If a client becomes unhappy, they can easily move to a competitor platform.

How Can You Make A Stronger User Adoption System?

It is crucial to take time to create and implement both training and account management programs. Providing clients with an easy and intelligent training program allows them to easily navigate feature functionality. Incorporating real business cases can provide the perfect example of how your product will augment and enhance their processes.

Aside from the initial implementation, account management reps should regularly engage with clients. This is especially important after each new feature release. Communication is key to ensuring clients will think twice about shopping for competitors.

At the end of the day, the most important part of your product isn’t the product itself — it’s how you communicate with and train your customers.

So I urge companies to take a step back and realize how these self-learning and self-training models can impact their businesses and the bottom line.