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Blog: Addressing Adoption Barriers in Customer Success, Part 1

We are rolling on the Ingram Micro CX Express. On this stop, I gain further insights into Customer Success with my guest Rebecca Leach, General Manager of Software for Cisco Canada. In a two-part discussion with Rebecca, we discuss the topic of Addressing Adoption Barriers in Customer Success.

What are ‘adoption barriers’? Very simply, they are anything that gets in the way of full implementation or utilization of a product. From Rebecca’s experience, she has encountered three main barriers to software implementation – skepticism, time and organizational support. Skepticism stems from the newness of a product and its disruption of the employee’s day-to-day operations. The time factor measures the amount of training that employees are given on the new product. With regard, to organizational support, Rebecca talks about the efforts that should come from upper management towards ramping up employees on the new technology or product, which includes providing a roadmap towards successful integration and use.

Managing Change

Change is synonymous with a challenging environment, and that is what is created once a new product is adopted within an organization. The management of this change is directly linked to successful Customer Success because it requires input from key stakeholders that are needed for the solution to be effective. Other adoption barriers can be technological, operational, or cultural. The categorization of barriers is necessary so that applicable approaches can be prescribed to combat these barriers.

Rebecca added another barrier to the mix – a team that is not ready for the transition. Therefore, the post-sales activities must be given equal importance to the sale itself. Although customers are being taken towards the process of digitization, what is significant is the utilization of the product(s). The adoption issue is compounded when people are averse to the change. This takes us back to the discussion on the cultural barrier. While not quantifiable, the impact of the cultural barrier can be profound. Everyone within the organization needs to be educated on why the change is occurring and how it will impact them.

It is not recommended that an organization waits until the implementation before getting buy-in from internal stakeholders, particularly sales. Rebecca recommends an early engagement strategy as the time-to-market is critical. Most organizations do not start off doing things this way, but setting an early expectation eliminates many challenges later on. Socializing the concept of change will diminish the impact on production and boost a positive organizational culture.

Revisiting OCD

Uncovering what barriers are present depends on the touch you have with your customer. Each touch concept – high-touch, low-touch, or tech-touch requires a different set of strategies for each. The OCD model, discussed in more detail in Episode 3, resurfaces in my discussion with Rebecca. OCD – observation, conversation, data – delivers insights that enable categorizations of which customers fall within high-touch, low-touch, or tech-touch to derive from customers the reasons for utilizing a product feature.

Rebecca emphasizes that the OCD approach depends on the type of customers. While there are obvious leading tech companies, companies like Starbucks want recognition as a tech company because of the mobile customer experience. She adds that OCD also depends on the sector, whether you are dealing with a private sector, versus the public sector, organization. The use of data is crucial, along with a cadence that includes a review of the data with key internal stakeholders. This is all necessary to avoid customer churn.

Retaining Customers through Customer Success

Maintaining ‘stickiness’ or customer loyalty can be achieved through the early deployment of  Customer Success Managers. The Customer Success Manager can discover pain points and provide better customer experience by significantly minimizing inefficiencies. As Rebecca puts it, Customer Success is the “undercurrent to how you drive successful adoption.” Even if there is zero evidence of barriers, the Customer Success Manager ensures that the value of the product is being highlighted. This proactive approach helps the seller understand the usefulness of the product, which is the value-based objective of purchasing the product. Rebecca further explains that Customer Success is not just a value-add, but it is “part of how we move forward.”

Watch my full interview with Rebecca Leach.

Listen to the Podcast on Apple, Stitcher or Spotify