Nov 13, 2020

Read Time 4 min

A Quick-Start Guide To Low- and Mid-Touch Feature Adoption


When it comes to product adoption, as our Chief Customer Officer likes to analogize, showing up to the gym isn’t enough; you have to run on the treadmill to see results.

You can create the perfect running environment – with new sneakers, a high-end fitness tracker, and an energizing playlist – but if you don’t put one foot in front of the other (again and again and again), then you’re never going to progress.

Similarly, your customer purchased your software to make a change. You can create the optimal operating environment for them – with full configuration, in-depth training, and customized onboarding – but if the customer doesn’t actually use the product, they won’t ever achieve results.

Intention means nothing without action. Product adoption takes work and consistency.

To continue with this analogy, let’s say you hired a personal trainer when you joined the gym. The trainer wouldn’t instruct you to start using every piece of equipment. That’d be unproductive – not to mention dangerous. No, the trainer would ask about your goals so they could build you the most effective plan.

Well, the same goes for product adoption. You shouldn’t instruct or expect your customer to use every feature in the beginning of their journey (or even ever) if it doesn’t help them reach their goals.

You often see the best results from working out when you stick to a few basic exercises and progressively increase your weight over time. Again, the same principle applies to your customers. Keep them focused on using the minimal features needed to achieve value and increase their use and mastery of those features over time.

That’s how you see noticeable change.

Now from time to time, and especially early on, your trainer may need to educate and redirect you if they notice you’re focused on the wrong activities (like if your goal was to get better at weightlifting but you’re doing HIIT training four times a week). Or if your motivation falls off and you miss a few sessions in a row.

Since our infallibility stretches beyond the gym, it’s likely your customer will need the same constructive guidance at some point during their adoption journey. That’s why having a readymade plan for when your customer inevitably falls of track helps to hold them accountable and keep them consistent.

As your customer’s trainer, you can’t do the work for them, but you can be their biggest supporter.

Feature-Specific Adoption Plays

So, now let’s look at an example of a low- to mid-touch (meaning a mostly automated interaction) adoption Play from ChurnZero. 

Note: To be inclusive of our broader audience, this Play example has been kept high-level and nonspecific to maintain relevance. Use this as a framework as your market and product context will modify your application.  

You might be asking yourself: what is a Play?

In ChurnZero, a Play automates messaging and tasks based on a user or account’s engagement metrics. Even if you don’t have ChurnZero, you can use this Play example as a guide to your product adoption workflows and communications.

The adoption Play below is useful for when a customer has told you they want to achieve specific results but they’re not using the right features to get themselves there.

Step 1: Assess customer usage
ChurnZero action: Create a task

Your customer meets the criteria to enter a segment of customers who are at risk of not meeting their business goals based on their product usage. Further investigate their recent activity to verify if their current usage (or lack thereof) will jeopardize their goal attainment.

Make sure to exclude customers with known usage limitations, such as customers who cannot use specific functionality due to a previously identified business or product constraint.

Step 2: Conduct outreach
ChurnZero action: Create an email

Do not send a generic email — even for low-touch customers. Inform the customer that you personally reviewed their account and have reason for concern. Outline the related issues and how the customer’s usage isn’t aligning with their stated goals, which is endangering their progress and achievement.

Step 3: Call the customer
ChurnZero action: Create a task

Give the customer a call and reference your email. Express your concern about ensuring they maximize their investment. If your customer doesn’t have time to discuss further on the call, schedule a subsequent meeting to review this feature more in depth and how it relates to their end-goals.

Step 4: Deliver benefits and next steps
ChurnZero action: Create an email

To provide a quick recap for the customer, summarize your phone conversation and describe the advantages they’ll gain by using the recommended feature. Provide clear next steps and resource URLs (to videos, whenever possible) they can use to encourage adoption.

Step 5: Reiterate your message inside your product
ChurnZero action: Create an in-app communication

You’ve explained to the customer – via both email and phone – how the feature will help them achieve their goals. But rarely can you remind a busy customer too many times. So, to reinforce your message and reiterate the resources available to them, launch an in-app communication with this same information one to two days after completing step four.

Step 6: Encourage the trend
ChurnZero action: Create an email

At this point, the customer should have at least attempted to use the feature.

If your customer’s feature usage begins to trend upwards, be sure to recognize their concerted effort. Give them subtle and timely praise by creating an in-app communication that triggers when they reach a positive usage threshold. You can complement your congratulatory announcement with related educational resources to share additional feature use cases or common tip and tricks.

If the customer hasn’t taken the desired action, you can continue alternating between emails and in-app communications until their usage increases. If the inaction persists, consider sending them through this process again in another 30 days.

Need More Play Inspiration? Encourage Ideas With a Little Friendly Competition

Create a contest among your CSMs to see who can craft the most effective feature-specific adoption play. The idea is that each CSM creates one play to increase the adoption of a specific feature over the course of a month. After the contest expires, choose a winner based on the play’s creativity/originality, effectiveness, and customer engagement.

For more resources on product adoption and Customer Success automation, check out these resources:

Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZeromeanin



Subscribe to the newsletter   

Empowering your customer success team through community

Has your customer community lost its spark? Teams are often eager to launch this new initiative, however, sustaining that same enthusiasm in the months ahead can be a challenge. “It's one thing to create excitement and another to keep people’s attention,” says Shauna...