From Client Kickoff Meeting to Customer Success: The Customer Adoption Curve

When you a sign a new customer, that customer goes through a journey that is very similar to any change management journey and also famously documented in the Gartner Hype Cycle applicable to the adoption of new technology:

Honeymoon Peak During New Client Kickoff

At first, the customer is very excited about the new “toy” (or service) that they are about to receive. Enthusiasm is at an all-time high and you need to realize this and harness it to orchestrate as much of the next twelve months as you possibly can. It is a good time to:

  1. Verify and deepen the business goals the organization has.
  2. Orchestrate a joint plan on how you are going to achieve these goals together
  3. Capitalize on the customer honeymoon by asking for a success story

Most companies think of success stories as ROI stories, but it is as valuable or more valuable to capture the emotional reasons why a customer bought. Think of a short snippet that reads, “Name and title and this company (make it about a PERSON), was experiencing this #pain and was looking at #vendor to solve this problem for these #reasons.” This type of short story shows prospects they are not the only ones with a particular problem and not the only ones looking at you (the vendor) for a solution.

Reality Trough

In almost all cases, customers go through a reality set back some days, weeks, or months into the relationship. Perhaps the product is harder to use than they thought, perhaps they are experiencing some bugs. Whatever the reason, it is not uncommon to experience a down period during or after onboarding.

First Value Slope

Common wisdom says that you better reappear from the Reality Through within three months of deployment, often within one month. You do this by showing results and achieving first value for the customer.

Impact Plateau

Finally, after half a year or less you should have demonstrated real impact on your customers’ business and hopefully the client is now even more deeply satisfied as they were just after purchase. This is a good time to start to plan together for the future. You might organize an “Impact Review” (which some call an executive business review) to plan the next twelve months together and ask for an ROI case study and introductions to others “who might benefit from your solution”.

Next time you speak to a customer, ask yourself, “Where on the customer adoption curve is this customer?”

Dominique Levin, Managing Partner Winning By Design

Customer Success
Storm Ventures