Are you a customer adoption champion?

If you work at a company and have customers, you should be.

Last year, I delivered a keynote at a large Education in Technology Industry Association and talked to the audience about the important role Education teams play in customer adoption and success. All along, Learning teams have been in the business of customer success. Now more than ever we need to attach learning strategically across marketing, pre-sales, sales, services, and post activities in order increase adoption, retention, company revenues and decrease cost.

I encouraged the audience to educate both within their companies and through their social connections how effective adoption is powered by learning the solution. Not just the features and functions, but the value and impact the solution has on the individual customer and how it can transform the customer’s business, driving innovation and differentiation.

We even sang “We Are The Champions” (my inner Charley Beck came through -> my past Rockstar persona -> if curious look up Charley Beck: Life’s Pleasures on Google Play or Spotify).

I’ve been encouraged to see so much action on this topic and I’m proud of my industry peers for elevating our role in adoption and customer success.

LET’S KEEP GOING – we are making progress!

You’ve seen this play:

1. The marketing team communicates unique value

2. The sales team closes a new opportunity

3. The services team implements the solution

4. The customer adopts the solution

5. The customer renews

Wait (broken record) – DO THEY?

Many companies thrive on landing a deal, expanding within the customer, and cross fingers that the customer will renew. But often the whole concept and actions around adoption, especially driving effective adoption, are passed over in pursuit of the next deal. Or adoption is a fragmented process with a “we can get by with minimum effort” attitude, certainly the level of investment and time commitment needed is too often just not there (with both the company and the customer at fault).

I know because that’s what I often see…and then I see the pain and impact of that…and then I help companies put those pieces in place. But they may have already lost key customers in the process of realizing what’s missing, taking a hit on revenue, and having to spend more in sales & marketing on more customer acquisition. The loss is much bigger when you factor in the ongoing loss of revenue and potential loss of reputation and references.

To start, it’s important to understand what the customer vs company cares about:


· Solving a business problem

· Getting return on investment

· Realizing value & accelerating it

· Business transformation


· Growing the business

· Profit, retention, more customers

· Expansion through stickiness

· Out-innovating

Customers want to be satisfied and happy, they want to maximize on their investment so that they can transform their business and out-innovate or go faster than their competition. Companies (most) genuinely care if their customers are satisfied and happy, they want them to maximize the impact they get out of the solution because that’s what makes it sticky.

The overall goals between customer and company are somewhat different (so you have to be careful you don’t miss what the customer wants to achieve), BUT the end goals are actually the same: customer satisfaction and happiness.

And yet…

We have the marketing to sales to services down cold (or so it seems like most of the time) …but we’re still stumbling through customer success and adoption -> impacting retention.

We are improving.

Seriously we are. The rise of “as a service” companies wholly rely on customer retention to grow revenue. These companies are hyper-focused on how to keep customers. You can bet they report to the Board of Directors on revenue growth (reoccurring), decreased churn (customer turnover), and decreased sales & marketing cost (the spend used to acquire customers). The data clearly shows that retaining a customer drives more revenue and costs much less than acquiring a new one.

We now have Chief Customer Officers, Customer Success Managers, Customer Advocates, customer journey maps and standardized adoption metrics (so many more compared to 5 years ago!). We are fortunate that there are fantastic tools, like Gainsight, and we are more effective at measuring the right KPIs and collecting analytics than we have been in the past.

Some companies are even experimenting with AI to drive customer success, which is extremely interesting and innovative. As an industry, we are learning how to drive customer success.

Speaking of learning … are we learning how important learning is?

I would argue that at the heart of learning is adoption and customer success. Learning professionals all along have had the end goal of helping the customer learn the value of “x” in order to achieve the impact “y”. They have carefully thought through what a customer needs to achieve and what they need to know, in order to successfully adopt a solution and get the intended impact out of it. It’s the only way they will retain what they know, if they understand how the solution helps them do their job better. You know we could all learn something from the learning teams (I’m not just saying that because I’ve had a career in learning – but I know that because I’ve had a career in learning). We could certainly benefit by making learning (and learning teams) an invaluable part of adoption planning and customer success activity.

At LearnExperts we believe:

1. Companies who aren’t thinking about how to tie learning and knowledge acquisition into their broader operational process, customer journey mapping, and customer retention process are way behind and will stumble.

2. Those who are trying are seeing some successes.

3. Those who have figured this out (and I’m talking only a handful of companies) are out-innovating and seeing fantastic growth because their customers are maximizing the impact and adoption of the solution and as a result their solutions are stickier.

The facts don’t lie.

Knowledge acquisition = more revenue, higher adoption, less cost, less churn:

· New products and processes are implemented 22% faster when people are trained

· 24% higher profit at companies who have comprehensive learning plans

· 50 hours less support needed for trained users

· 1 hour of learning saves 5 hours of lost productivity

· 80% of managers say knowledge is critical

It’s time for focus!

Being customer centric is broader than it ever has been – it includes building a robust product strategy, a deliberate customer experience delivered across all organizations, tight communication, the right measurements of success, and access to knowledge through the entire customer value chain. Adopting a new solution should feel effortless for customers, and the result should be satisfaction and happiness.

I challenge you – because it is so important now – to be Customer Adoption Champion.


Your customers will thank you.


Based on the keynote presentation @ Cedma Conference April 2018 in Foster City CA