User adoption isn’t a “nice to have” its crucial….

You’ve decided to implement new technology (cloud, Microsoft Upgrades etc.) within your organization, exciting eh. Implementing new technology can really help to make your company more effective and your users more productive… (have you read 1% gains: The Stuff of Olympic Champions and a principle for business success ? but and it’s a big but only if users know how to use the technology. Often when releasing a new Windows update for example, companies believe that users are perhaps already familiar with the system through home use or don’t need formal training as it’s not a big change. I’ve lost count of the calls we have had saying “ my organization has spent thousands on pounds and no one is using the system correctly, what should we do?”.  The number one reason for failure is because no one is using the system correctly.

Your project management team will have spent a lot of time putting together a plan on how you are going to implement the technology, that’s almost the easy bit… but have you thought about planning how you are going to increase user adoption. User adoption isn’t just achieved through training users on how to use the new system it’s achieved by gaining their buy-in and commitment. Bottom line if they don’t adapt, you have not only wasted money, effort and time but your ROI bombs.

These four steps will improve the chances of adoption success and ensure your users continue to use your system:

1. Dont' Keep Big Changes A Secret From Your Users

There’s nothing worse than being familiar to an app or system and then one day, you are presented with an unexpected change. It is confusing and frustrating! This is one of the biggest reasons for difficult deployments, low adoption and project failure. Words no one likes to hear. Users develop habits over time. They don’t like to change the way they do something if they are happy with it. Talking to your users and slowly feeding them useful information will ease the surprise and confusion that big changes might bring. Don’t just feed them go live dates. Engage “with” your users not “at” your users. Recently, Snapchat Inc. redesigned the layout of the app and how users view stories. This update happened overnight with no prior information which resulted in an uproar of frustration by users around the world and negative publicity posted across every social media network. There was even a petition made again the new update which gained 1.2 million signatures.

Whether you are a start-up or a global company like Snapchat, it is imperative to remember that your customers come first, and they are the reason for your success. Keep them in the loop of new changes which impact them, or you risk losing them altogether.

Examples of how to communicate changes or a big release:

1. Newsletters/Online Portal: This is the ideal place to post content on new releases or changes. Make sure you communicate early ahead of the change to help mitigate risk and alleviate the fear that can lead to resistance and decreased uptake.
2. Get your management team to walk the talk by ensuring they fully support and promote the new tools that are being rolled out. The more positivity about how beneficial the new tools and how it can reduce issues, the more people will come on-board and be more receptive.

2. Involve Your Customers

Imagine being involved with the next big thing before it happens. The thought of having an input which can make a difference is exciting. Involve your users from the start, so that they feel they have had some form of contribution to your new system. Doing so should increase user adoption and big changes will be taken on board more easily. Once the changes are implemented, make sure you credit your users’ contribution to the process. “You asked – We listened!” this is something people love to hear. A thank you message from the CEO, for instance, is a positive message, which people appreciate.

Some examples of how to involve your customers:

1.Early releases for a few users and give them a voice – Allow selected people to become ambassadors for the project before it goes live and provide feedback.  They are knowledgeable, committed to furthering their expertise and are willing to provide assistance which will help translate the upgrade into the reality of their department or team.  This also allows for any adjustments for further improvement and the more involvement they have they more they will talk about it to peers.   It also creates a great bridge between IT and the business.
2.Feedback forms – Ask customers to fill out feedback surveys is a great way to involve customers and improve on your existing system. A reward for completion such as entry into a prize draw will could attract more survey responses.

Not only does offering opportunities such as these helps make everyone feel included, it also gives great insight into what is working well and what might need refinement to make it even better.

3. Educate and Train Your Users

One of the most important elements of successful implementation is training. Sadly, it’s also the most overlooked. Users need a minimum level of training and awareness on how to navigate your new system and have a basic understanding of the functions irrespective if they have previously used a system.  Many vendors offer training options as part of a technology purchase, however, most of this is standardized off the shelf and not specific to your culture or business processes.  Users need to see it in the context of their specific work processes.

Also consider the demographic of your company, some industries might have a large percentage workforce who might be an age when transitioning to a new tool might be challenging.  Younger demographics are often more likely to self-adopt and be accepting of change as they are used to applications on games and phones changing frequently.    Different strategies and techniques need to be carefully considered to ensure inclusion for everyone irrespective of their competency.

You don’t need to go overboard. But providing something of context eliminates any basic struggles that may arise, or time and frustration wasted because there is no connection to their way of working. Training is something we mandate at Appetite and include as part of our development services. It is that important.

4. Maximise the Use of your Social Reach

Everyone is busy, and we are introducing something new to their day to have to manage.

Social media is an important part of life these days. Today’s user is very different from a user even 5 or 10 years ago.  There is an enormous opportunity to reach new customers and engage with long-standing users of your business.  Announce the release of the new system on all internal social media channels possible to increase awareness and user adoption.  Ensure the announcement is engaging and resonates well with users. You can also use social media as one of the points of contact for any queries or issues users and/or customers may have.  Depending on how large your organization is you may also want to create a newsletter with more formal project updates including next steps, dates etc.

Get involved in the conversation on social media. Reply to relevant comments and share valuable insights to show that you are committed and attentive in your users’ interests. Use digital platforms as a channel to share tips for using the new system, showcase early wins and recognize employees and/or customers that are using it well and boosting performance as a result.

Conclusion

In summary, lack of adoption can easily turn into a very costly process returning little to no ROI. Whether you’re in the middle of your implementation or if you are still in early stages, it’s not too late to put these steps into practice and keep user adoption high.

The most important thing to remember is that planning as early as possible should be included as part of your project plans.  Being pro-active and keeping in communication with users after the implementation is key to success.   Implementation is not the end of the road but the beginning of a new way of working.   We hope this helps inspire your user adoption strategies and watch those adoption rates soar.

Contact us today if we can help you create and implement a user adoption strategy for your business.