3 Levels of Customer Adoption Explained

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medals.jpgAs technology suppliers, once we’ve landed the customer, our next goal is to get them up and running on our platform and successfully using our solution. With today’s changing business models, they may not be buying an asset up front, but instead might only be paying a little through a subscription, or a “freemium” model where they haven’t paid anything at all yet and are still in the “try before you buy” phase of their purchasing journey. Still, our goal remains the same: we need to get them to adopt and to actually use the technology. Why? We want to get them to expand their spending with us and ultimately get them to renew their contracts.

At TSIA, we refer to this process as the LAER Model: Land, Adopt, Expand, Renew. So, how do we get those customers to that first critical milestone of adoption that unlocks expansion and renewal? To illustrate that, we need to first talk about three types of customers we all recognize, originally introduced by Thomas Lah, TSIA's executive director, in his keynote presentation, "The Who, What, Why and How of Driving Adoption and Outcomes". 

Low Adoption

First are the customers who will buy into your solution and seem interested in trying it, but are ultimately unwilling to change anything about their current processes to ensure that it works for them. Because of this low adoption of your technology, these customers will fail to receive a return on their investment, and therefore won’t want to continue using it. (Tweet this!) In many of these cases, they might not have been ready to implement your technology in the first place, which can be established through the use of a customer readiness assessment during the onboarding process.

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High Adoption

These customers have bought your solution and are very enthusiastic about trying it! However, while adoption is high, they still have some problems to work out in their current operating environment, making them not yet effective. They might have some bad processes or poor organizational structures that are holding them back from realizing their full potential with your offer. Their hearts are in the right place, but they have some bad habits they need to overcome first before they can successfully adopt your solution. 

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Effective Adoption

These are the customers that really get it. They did their research and came into the buying process fully prepared with the right people, processes, and technology in place before they began implementing your solution. They had a clear view of the outcomes they wished to achieve with your solution, and are using every aspect of your technology to achieve those outcomes. These are the customers who are clearly receiving value from your products and services, and are the ones who are most likely to expand their spending and renew their contracts. (Tweet this!)

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Effective Adoption is Good for Everyone

What defines successful adoption for both the customer and the supplier are really two sides of the same coin. For the customer, they’re looking for a return on their investment. They want results, whether that is improved productivity, increased efficiency, or whatever is most important to them in terms of their desired business outcome. For suppliers, your goal is to increase your customer’s average spend with your company, which can be achieved by helping them achieve those desired business outcomes. 

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There’s something to be gained by all parties involved, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all adoption is created equal. It’s really a gradient of low, high, and effective. (Tweet this!) For example, you might have customers that manage to go from low adoption to high adoption, but they’re still not effective. Knowing the difference will enable you take the right steps to moving your customers along the path to effective adoption, unlocking the potential for expansion and renewal in the future.

About the Author

Nicole_Dornsife_Headshot_HS.jpgNicole Dornsife is the publications editor for TSIA. She has over 8 years of experience writing for the software industry, and joined TSIA in 2014. Nicole regularly collaborates with TSIA's research team and partner companies to publish their insights on the latest news in the technology services industry on the Inside Technology Services blog.

 customer onboarding readiness assessment
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Topics: customer adoption, customer outcomes, LAER

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