Why aren’t your clients using your product?

Effective tactics for client engagement

When sales signs a big deal, there’s a rush to allocate resources to the account. There are robust revenue forecasts based on usage. Everyone’s patting each other on the back for bringing on this milestone client and how it could really catapult the business to the next level. Then your client goes silent.

I’m sure you’ve been through this scenario, and we’ve been there too. Here’s what we think is going on, and more importantly, our recommendations for prevention, triage, and revival.

  1. The users of your platform weren’t involved until after the deal was done, or there is turnover within the group.

Betty’s Tactics: Understanding is key — who are these users, what do they do on the day-to-day, and what benefit would they get from using your product? The last thing you want to be is one more thing these people have to log into and use, and have them resent you for it. If possible, I recommend a face-to-face meeting to get their perspective on how this solution impacts them and brainstorm how you can make it more useful in their day to day operations. The more you know about them, the more you’ll impact their success! A weekly call until trust is developed would help stay top of mind as well.

Bernadette’s Tactics: Betty hit the nail on the head — you really need to understand the players and their roles. We recommend bringing the operatives in early, even during the decision-making stage whenever possible. If the end user was not involved in the purchasing decision, your first task is to communicate the value of your product during onboarding. Make sure that the training and setup is appropriate for each user’s role so that it addresses their specific pain points, processes, and responsibilities; otherwise, adoption will suffer. We have usage dashboards that monitor key features. If there’s a dip, reach out. If there is team turnover, onboard again!

2. Implementation is more resource intensive or complex than expected.

Betty’s Tactics: Alex Turnbull from Groove recently wrote, “most businesses…are far too optimistic in their estimates.” When there are recurring issues that arise with implementations, it’s time to have a sit-down with the internal stakeholders — product, engineering, and anyone else who may be involved. List out the issues and prioritize based on the impact on the client. Make sure the stakeholders understand the issues from the client perspective since they may not have the direct access that you have. Then put together a plan to resolve the top priority issues, and assign a qualified project lead for each issue for accountability. “Being brutally honest with yourself about how much productive time your team will go a long way in getting better and more accurate at project planning,” says Alex.

Bernadette’s Tactics: Set realistic expectations about how long it will take and what’s involved. If there are tasks that need to be completed by your customers, make the process as explicit and simple as possible. We’ve even done setup tasks together with some less tech-savvy users. If integration is being done on your end, keep the lines of communication open at every level. Progress reports are essential and messages should align with your users’ top priorities.

3. It’s been a few months and clients have yet to see the value promised.

Betty’s Tactics: Once the contract is signed, the work starts! The client may not like this part as much, particularly if it takes more time and effort than expected to get the program off the ground (see #2), and the product is complicated or difficult to use.

Our clients’ success is dependent on their partners using our solution — the more users onboarded, the more value is realized. We figured out that clients need to see results within the first month in order to stay engaged, so we set a milestone in the implementation process where a small set of users got early access to the platform. The initial users loved being the first to participate in a new program, and it usually resulted in positive third party feedback back to our client. After this step, we see an increase in log-ins by our clients because they’re so eager to see user activity, and we have much more productive conversations about growing the program.

Bernadette’s Tactics: During onboarding, we set goals with our clients. We set clear targets so that users can see the value our product is bringing them. Once those are set, we create action plans to map out how our customers can get there. It’s essential that we thoroughly explain all product features so there’s no question about how our users are going to reach their goals.

With this approach, ongoing tracking of these metrics and goals is essential. We’ve built in customer-facing dashboards in product so that users can see value and progress toward their goals. Behind the scenes, we know that certain feature usage is an indicator of success. We keep an eye on these, and reach out proactively if we think that the user may be on track to fall short of their goals.

More formally, we do quarterly business reviews to track metrics and usage, reevaluate goals, and set new ones.

Any other tactics we should consider? Would love to hear from you.