Metrics are a means to an end. They are not a goal in and of themselves.

Their importance lies in their ability to reveal the customer experience of the product or service so you can add value to that experience and maximize the growth of both the customer and your own enterprise. That’s what customer success is: the use of close customer monitoring to connect the dots of customer data and turn the resulting insights into actions that deliver value.

User adoption metrics, as with all customer success measurements, are a guide to future action. The first step is to make the calculation. The second is to use that calculation to take proactive, targeted action.

What is User Adoption?

The adoption phase is the longest part of the ongoing customer journey. Comparatively, the adoption and renewal phases take up much less time.

This is the point when the product becomes a functional part of the customer’s workflow. It follows directly on from the onboarding phase and marks a customer’s independence with the product. Indeed, a customer should not be considered ready to leave onboarding until they can independently incorporate the product into their daily workflows.

Adoption is also the first time the customer begins to experience value and ROI on their investment. When you measure customer adoption, you are trying to discover how the customer is using the product and whether they have begun to experience value. These first experiences of value and, alternatively, a delay in such an experience, can have a big impact on the emotional connection the customer has to the product and the team, which ultimately affects customer loyalty. First impressions last, so when you learn how to measure user adoption, you want to get a clear understanding of this initial experience.

Why User Adoption is Important

The digital transformation of business has left the customer in control of the marketplace. The fluidity of subscription and SaaS arrangements means customer value is no longer solely captured in a single up-front sales event. Rather, it is achieved over years through a continual cycle of renewal.

The emphasis is now on nurturing customer growth so that you can enjoy recurring revenue over time. To maintain an ongoing relationship peppered with continuous renewal, you have to make sure the customer is using the product or service and using it properly. That begins with adoption.

That’s why it is important that we have a working, day-to-day, milestone-to-milestone understanding of the customer experience during this period.

How to Measure User Adoption

User adoption is measured using adoption rates. There are several types of adoption rates, each targeted at a separate measurement of customer product engagement.

One of the simplest to master is a measure of product access. By measuring the number of daily product logins against the number of licenses purchased by a customer, you can accurately determine how often they are using the product.

It breaks down like this:

So, if you’ve decided that such a daily usage rate should hit or exceed 70% to warrant successful adoption, then you are hoping for 700 out of 1,000 unique logins.

Another way to measure adoption is the average amount of time spent with the product. To achieve this information, divide the amount of time spent in the product by the number of logins over any given timeframe.

Here’s the resulting equation:

You can hone this metric further by switching attention to a specific feature. Here, the measurement reveals how often a customer accesses a product feature you know to be valuable to their business goals. This feature adoption rate metric breaks down as follows:

Through the use of these three metrics alone, you get an accurate picture of how often the product is being accessed, how long it is being used, and which specific elements have been adopted successfully—and of course, which features we need to encourage our customers to use more often.

How to Improve Your Customer Adoption Rates

If you find these metrics are not performing in a manner you’d deem successful, you need to act. Here are four actions that can change the way your customers interact with your product:

  • Establish Real-World Goals. Set, pursue, and celebrate goals that relate directly to a customer’s experience of business value. Such goals establish a direct pathway from learning about the product, to implementing it within a real-world workflow, and then on to using it to achieve business success. These goals should follow the SMART framework by being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Your customers will only remain loyal if your product provides business value, so use goals to continually let them know how today’s actions will lead to tomorrow’s success.
  • Product Education Never Stops. There’s no harm in offering a little extra guidance. A free seminar, online tutorial, or training session can clarify how specific product features relate to overall business success. Use your customer success metrics to create personalized offerings that target features and product usage.
  • Be Proactive. Customer success metrics indicate how the customer is using the product today, but your team also needs an idea of how they will need to use it in the future. Be prepared to initiate personalized campaigns with clear business objectives around the use of specific features or the expansion of existing licenses you know will provide long-term value. Customer success is about working to constantly improve the customer experience, after all.
  • Better Onboarding. You can improve the adoption rates of future customers by examining those of customers who have recently exited the onboarding phase. Regular monitoring will reveal any patterns in feature access, bottlenecks, or time spent in the product that can help refine the initial training. By analyzing the results of onboarding, you can refine the stage and create better standardized processes moving forward.
  • Continue to Improve: As you watch customers progress through their journey, you need to take what you’ve learned and use it to optimize your processes. For instance, if you realize that customers are struggling to understand the steps involved in onboarding, then you can refine them to be easier to follow. When you make changes, track user interaction to see if it’s working as planned. Above all, always strive for constant improvement.

If a particular feature is repeatedly receiving low adoption rates, rethink the way it is taught or prioritized. Similarly, if customers routinely suffer low product usage rate, consider the user interface tutorials. By keeping an eye on these metrics and taking action accordingly, you can ensure customers are always receiving maximum value.

How Customer Success Software can Boost Adoption Rates

Tracking user adoption manually is a pain. It’s time-consuming and inefficient. That’s why many enterprises find it works better to use customer success software that gathers data in one centralized location and translates that data into insights and actions. The best customer success software is uniquely built around the customer journey, breaking down each phase of the customer journey into practical, actionable practices. These modules help keep your customer engagements relevant to the continually evolving customer experience.

The software houses and analyzes every piece of relevant customer information you can capture and generates actionable metrics while providing a dynamic view of the customer experience. You can use it to get an at-a-glance understanding of the state of every account in your responsibility and use to inform better customer engagements. A customer success platform that is oriented around goals ensures that your team is always aligned with your customers’ desired business outcomes and how your product can help them achieve their goals. This, in turn, drives user adoption.

The goal, as with all good customer success measurements and practices, is to turn customer understanding into a better customer experience of value.

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