How to Design a Product Adoption Process for a SaaS Application

Guru Mirthinti Digital Adoption

Deploying a new software solution at your company is expensive and time-intensive. Selecting a tool is often the result of months of effort, testing, and negotiation.

But purchasing the SaaS tool is only the beginning. Next, you’ll need a product adoption process to make sure employees at your company actually use it.

Employees don’t just automatically adopt the products and software you provide. Rather, becoming a regular user of a product — any product — takes time. The product adoption process refers to the five stages of learning about, considering, and using a product. In sequential order, these stages are awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption.

Here’s how to design this process for your company’s new SaaS application.

Stage 1: Build Awareness of Your New Tool

In this first stage of the product adoption process, employees know the new tool you’ve chosen exists. They don’t, however, know how to use it or why they should, nor do they know the full range of the tool’s capabilities.

Before your colleagues can love or even use your new software, they need to know it’s been added to their tool kit. Start the adoption process by building awareness of the tool and its capabilities. Leverage innovators and early adopters on your team to catalyze discussion about the software and spread awareness across the organization. Encourage them to help employees move to the next stage of the process — the interest stage — by explaining how the tool will positively affect them and their work.

Let’s say you’ve purchased SuccessFactors human capital management software. Employees in the marketing, sales, and operations departments might initially believe the tool is intended solely for their colleagues in HR. So make sure you explain how SuccessFactors can assist employees across departments with training, time-tracking, benefits, and more. As they start to see what’s in it for them, employees will naturally move to the next stage of the product adoption process when they develop a genuine interest in the tool.

Once you’ve deployed the software, and employees begin to use it, you will need to promote awareness of its various features and helpful shortcuts. By using a digital adoption platform (DAP) like Whatfix, you can easily release alerts for users so they never miss an update about new features or changes.

Stage 2: Pique Your Colleagues’ Interest

An important next step in the product adoption process is to generate interest in the new software. Your colleagues reach this stage once they’re actively curious about the tool and are ready to learn how it might help them — not just the overall organization — in their daily work.

At this stage, focus on capturing the employees’ attention, and intrigue them with helpful, targeted messaging. For example, with Whatfix’s Contextual In-App Guidance feature, you can welcome new users with customized messages and product tours.

Pique Your Colleagues’ Interest - How to Design a Product Adoption Process for a SaaS Application

Above all, try to make it as easy as possible for employees to interact with the product. Employees might not adopt (or even try) a tool that forces them to depart too much from their daily work routines. Enable employees to use your software in a way that works best for them, whether they do most of their work from their desks or on the go via mobile devices. Whatfix’s DAP is optimized for desktop and mobile users, so you can support your employees no matter how they choose to access the application.

Stage 3: Help Employees Evaluate the Software

Once they’ve become aware of and interested in the new software, employees need to decide whether they will actually use it. At this stage, it’s important to reinforce the value of the tool.

Help your colleagues understand how using the software can help them. Employees with different roles in a company use the same software differently. As you’re helping your team learn how to use the tool, try to create personalized user guides for employees in different departments.

Whatfix’s DAP offers customizable step-by-step walk-throughs that provide instructions on how to achieve a particular goal. For example, if an employee wants to learn how to send an email campaign via Salesforce, Whatfix can deliver instructions specific to that goal. By creating highly targeted user guides for specific roles and tasks, you can demonstrate immediate, relevant value to employees without overwhelming them with extraneous information. This also allows employees to evaluate how the tool will work specifically for them.

As an added bonus, goal-based walk-throughs allow employees to learn by doing, which helps them retain information. At this important step in the product adoption process, help employees understand and retain as much information as possible in order to optimize their trial process.

Stage 4: Optimize the Trial Process

When employees begin interacting with and exploring the software, they’ve reached the trial stage. This is a critical phase of the product adoption process. If the tool is easy to use, understandable, and value-generative, employees will be much more likely to use it again.

Optimize the trial phase for your colleagues by making the experience as seamless and as personalized as possible. Make sure clunky interfaces and complex content don’t frustrate employees and cause them to abandon the application before they’ve really started. If you use a digital adoption platform like Whatfix, you can use management and customization features to create a more intuitive and targeted experience for employees. You can also manage how you display info for different users, so you can prevent employees from becoming overwhelmed. By taking advantage of these tools, you can make the user experience as positive as possible.

At this pivotal point in the process, make sure it’s easy for employees to find solutions quickly if they get stuck when using the tool. Today’s software users find it frustrating to create support tickets and prefer to find quick solutions to problems on their own. Whatfix DAP’s self-help widget grants users easy access to all available training guides, reduces confusion, and promotes a more comprehensive understanding of the tool.

Stage 5: Complete the Product Adoption Process

The adoption stage is the final phase of the product adoption cycle. At this point, the employee has become a true user of your software. Employees reach this stage once they realize the positive impact the tool can have on their work and their lives.

Of course, your work isn’t over when employees start using the tool. A combination of company policies and software updates will create a regular stream of changes to the tool’s interface and functionality. Prepare to help your colleagues continuously adopt new features as they arise, without disrupting their process. A tool like Whatfix’s Alerts and Announcements feature makes that easy.

Once employees have adopted the software, it’s your job to learn how they’re using it. In order to make the tool as effective as possible in the long run, ascertain where users struggle with or abandon the process. That will allow you to identify opportunities to create helpful explanatory content or implement additional training as needed. Whatfix’s Analytics feature provides relevant metrics on usage, engagement, and relevance, and it also allows you to survey employees and gain their feedback directly. By understanding what your colleagues want and need, you can ensure the best possible experience when they use the tool.

A Dynamic Product Adoption Process

Software updates and process changes necessitate that employees continually learn about, evaluate, and adopt software solutions. For that reason, it’s helpful to use a digital adoption platform, which leverages constant, customized tools and tips to explain changes and new features. With a digital adoption platform like Whatfix, you can ensure that your employees become — and remain — true adopters of the software solutions you’ve so carefully selected.

Guru Mirthinti

Guru Mirthinti

Guru is part of the Product Marketing team at Whatfix. He has 5 years experience in driving strategy and operational excellence across India, US and Southeast Asia. With a deep passion in customer behaviour, competitive analysis and sales enablement, Guru wants to support enterprises in their journey towards successful digital adoption through Whatfix
Guru Mirthinti
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