Plain and simple, users that aren’t engaging with your product in a way that moves them closer to achieving their business goals are at a higher risk of churn.

However, efforts to improve user adoption shouldn’t just be reactionary. Churn is a metric driven by fear, which means that by its nature it leads us to solve problems only after they arise. Instead, we should take a more proactive approach to identify and resolve roadblocks in a user’s journey to adoption and engagement.

In our 2018 SaaS User Adoption & Onboarding Benchmarking Report, we uncovered findings that indicate many companies are struggling to be proactive in measuring user adoption.

Let’s take a look at some of the early warning signs of poor user adoption so that you can help users take advantage of the tools they need to be successful.

Proactive Signs of Poor User Adoption

While it’s not always feasible to talk to users about their current goals, challenges, and frustrations in depth, customer success metrics can give us insight into the user’s experience at scale. The four early warning signs below can be looked at on their own, however, they’re most powerful when combined.

UserIQ combines the four early warning signs below, along with other metrics, to create a customer health score (which we call HealthIQ) that gives a holistic and data-driven look at customer success.

Poor login activity or inconsistent login

Let’s start at the beginning – login activity. The act of logging in shows a willingness to participate from a user, and it’s the first step of user adoption.

The frequency of login will vary by user type, role in their organization, their business goals, and how they need to use your product. However, the varied nature of what a “good” number of logins per week or month doesn’t nullify its importance.

In fact, it amplifies it. There is no one size fits all frequency of login, so it deserves careful attention. No matter the average number of logins in a given period, a decrease or sudden drop in that level is an early warning sign for waning adoption.

Low or infrequent product usage

Just like login activity, product usage can vary between types of users. That’s why it’s so crucial to segment users so that early warning signs ring loud and clear.

Whether infrequent product usage is a new development for a particular user, or they have always used the product less than other users in their segment, low product usage could be an indication that a user isn’t realizing the full value of features. Context is key here. 

Not only is general product usage important to track. It’s also important to track feature usage over time to understand feature adoption.

The way we track adoption at UserIQ is by focusing on aligning a customer’s “intended adoption” with their “actual adoption.” This allows us to coordinate our customer’s expected outcomes with the goals they are actually achieving in UserIQ to ensure they are finding value and success with our product.

Read more about experimenting with customer outcome metrics from our Director of Customer Success & Growth.

Low engagement with the success team

While it may seem counterintuitive to think that a user not reaching out the success team is a bad sign, it can be. That’s because the willingness to seek help indicates at least a base level of engagement and adoption.

Users that reach out to the success team:

  • Believe that the company can provide value and help
  • Are interested in putting in the time to figure out their issue and move forward with the product
  • Have valuable input about the product based on their experience within it

If users aren’t reaching out, they could be so disengaged and frustrated with the features at hand that they think it not even worth asking for help.

Additionally, for some teams, particularly those with a high customer to CSM ratio, customers who aren’t submitting tickets or requests may fall out of a regular cadence with their CSM. This could mean they are completely happy or totally unhappy, but the CS team wouldn’t know. Having to guess at your customers’ success and satisfaction is not a great place to be in, especially if it results in churn.

Poor NPS scores

While an NPS score in and of itself isn’t enough to understand if your users are successful in their goals, it is part of the equation that can be tracked over time as part of the HealthIQ score. One great way to use NPS is as a benchmarking tool to show improvement over time.

NPS scores are also an early indicator of how your success team needs to prioritize outreach to improve user adoption. Segmenting your customer base by promoters, passives, and detractors is a good way to know where to start in following up and addressing feedback.

How to Improve User Adoption

Proactively monitoring warning signs of low user adoption is essential to customer success, but it’s only one part of the process. Once you’ve identified customers or segments that are at a higher risk of churn, you have to decide how to remedy the situation.

Understand what barriers they may be facing

Behind every user that is falling behind in adoption and success for their business goals is an underlying reason “why.” There are a few common barriers to customer success, which are a good place to look first.

But it’s also important to keep a pulse on your customer’s ever-changing business goals, any shifts in their role overall (not just how it relates to the product), new business priorities, etc to flag areas that may cause them to “fall off the wagon.”

You always want to try to be in the know on what’s going on in your users’ job that could impact their continued success. That can also help you be on the lookout for ways your product can solve any issues they are running into, even if it’s leveraging a feature they’ve never used before, an integration they could upgrade to or purchasing a services package. Facilitating trust is critical at this stage. 

Evaluate your existing plan to improve user adoption

Once you’ve considered what could be holding users back from long-term adoption, it’s time to make a plan to guide users to success. Whether you do or don’t have an existing strategy for improving user adoption, you need to reflect on a few key points that are critical for your user adoption strategy.

These questions will help guide you through understanding what’s most important to include in a strategy to help your users.

User adoption isn’t a quick fix or a one-and-done activity. It’s the process of users establishing a belief in and a connection to the product, and therefore will take some trial and error. Take a look at our Customer Onboarding Guide for strategies, best practices, and more information about effective customer onboarding and its contribution to successful user adoption, or schedule a demo to find out how UserIQ can help make this process easier for you and your customers.