Remember the last time you said these words – “Oh I don’t know about this, let me GOOGLE it.” Despite the fact that all you are doing is a web search on the internet, and that there are a multitude of search engine competitors like Bing, Yahoo, etc. prevalent, the fact that Google has become synonymous with finding things on the internet speaks volumes about how much this product has stuck with the masses (Although “I’ll BING that!” does have a certain ring to it).
Product stickiness means that your product/service is indispensable for the customer. It’s that utopian state where each and every company wants to be and works tirelessly towards it- it’s almost like your product has attained Nirvana.
I read a line on Product Habit’s article which resonated with the CSM DNA inside me –
“Real stickiness means that you don’t have to bug users for their attention. They simply give it to you.”
I habitually work towards product adoption with my customers.. But after deep intervention, I have come to the conclusion that the battle doesn’t end there – product stickiness is the ultimate goal, which is when the adoption of your product finally breaks through that glass ceiling to go onwards and upwards.
When you see a Customer’s entire lifecycle, there are a few factors that influence product stickiness.
Factors influencing Product Stickiness
1. Get the ball rolling
One of the factors which plays a major role in product stickiness is how easy it is to implement and use the product. We are back to it again folks – the fabled ‘a-ha moment!’. The first moment of truth for the customer is once they go live with your offered solution. If the product is easy enough to implement and integrate, a lot of business end users will use it as part of their routine and product adoption will increase. Some additional contributing factors to this are the integration support from the vendor, consultation based on other successful implementations and complete transparency with regards to the execution steps of the project plan.
2. Problems at the door
Problems are eternal. In this age of instant gratification, it’s imperative that your product is able to solve the customer’s short term problems as soon as possible or at least show some good progress so that your brand establishes trust with the customer. If the product looks promising enough, then who will not want to stick with it?
3. Return On Investment:
Problems are not only eternal, they are incremental. This one is crucial and a deciding factor for the longevity of any product. If your product serves just as a band-aid solution, it comes with a shelf life. This should immediately trigger sirens in your head. It’s really important for your product to evolve with the customers’ needs in the long term. It’s a win only when your customer realizes that they can recover its monetary value within a definitive period of getting implemented! There is a huge cost involved in implementing any product – right from the sourcing of the product to making it available to the end user. No company wants to bear that cost or go through that rigorous process again and again.
4. Two birds with one stone
There is a reason why companies develop multiple products/solutions under their umbrella. So if the vendor is offering their product for problem A but the tool can address problem B as well then it’s a win-win situation for both parties. If the product is solving more than one problem then why to involve multiple vendors?
In any company there are many teams which are working together – Sales, Marketing, HR, Ops, Service and so on. So if more than one vertical is able to leverage the product offered by the vendor then this develops your solution as an even more pervasive entity.
How Customer Success can lead to Product Stickiness
Be a trusted advisor:
CSMs are the trusted advisor for the customer and customers look up to the CSMs to know more about how the product/service can solve their problem. One (or several) ideation/discovery sessions with the customer is needed to understand the problem statement and various aspects which are the root cause, to provide the best possible solution. Regular reviewing of the solution provided is also essential to make sure that the solution is leading towards the desired outcome. If not, necessary reinforcement actions should be taken to steer the project on course.
Support funnels Product Development:
Since we are constantly talking to the customer, we know what product feature is working for the customer and what is not. It’s the customer success manager’s responsibility to report what feature the customer is eagerly waiting for (in many cases, it’s the only reason why they stick around), and convey the same to the product team so that they can add those features in the product roadmap as per their (company’s+product) vision.
Meaningful Feature Adoption:
If the product offers multiple features, then it is the CSM’s responsibility to route the customer to use the right set of features based on their specific business needs. If the customer is not using the right set of features then the chances that they see value in the product soon lower significantly. Focusing on short term goals and utilising the product/service accordingly is the key to get the results sooner and win the trust of the customer.
Having the blessings of the upper management:
This problem is close to my heart; because it’s so relatable that I am positively jumping to write about this. As an implementer of a new solution, sometimes we do not see any traction despite the fact that the product is very easy to use, has a great user interface or solves a very crucial problem. Sometimes, users need that extra nudge from the upper management to start using the product. If the CSM and SPOC are stuck with low adoption and want some help, they should definitely reach out to the project sponsor to get that extra push.
Value Communication + Stakeholder Engagement:
Last but not the least- value communication. I do feel that Value communication is the most crucial point among all of the above points listed. To what extent does your solution solve the customer’s problems, how much progress was the team able to make, what are the next steps, what is the bigger picture, the roadmap you have chalked to achieve long term success, yada yada yada.. Remember, it’s a game of perceptions. All these things are very important for a sponsor to know, so make sure you are communicating the same. Also – what is the roadmap for your product? Will it be able to solve more problems for the company in future? These are a few points that can be mentioned in the business reviews to keep the sponsor apprised of the plan.
In essence, Customer Success can not only contribute towards product adoption, but it actually is one of the driving factors in ensuring brand loyalty and product stickiness. These are some of the points which come to mind when I think about product stickiness and how we can improve it. Do let me know if you have more food for thought! Would love to hear your ideas as well.
Kritika Kishor is a Customer Success enthusiast, who loves making people successful in what they are trying to achieve with SaaS based platforms. She is currently handling some of the biggest market players at Whatfix, consulting them on how to implement success best practices.