Bridging the Gap Between Features and Benefits

By Ward Greunke

SaaS companies love to talk about the benefits of their software such as, “Increase sales,” or “Reduce employee churn”.  Unfortunately just buying the product will not help you achieve your goals unless you have the proper behaviors.  While marketing is focused on benefits and engineering is focused on features, it is up to the customer success team to bridge the gap by helping customers develop the proper behaviors.

I first encountered this problem at 1factory where we help customers analyze inspection data.  We developed the product using what we thought were industry standard techniques like histograms but found that customers had trouble understanding how our product would improve their business.

The problem was that our customers had built up processes and procedures using their existing technology - Excel or sometimes even pencil and paper.  Since it takes 15 clicks just to create a histogram in Excel, people rarely made a histogram and did not have experience interpreting the data.  Our application represented a new way of thinking which customers had trouble adopting.

To solve this problem, our customer success team created a poster that showed how to identify common manufacturing problems by looking at a histogram.  Once customers knew how to interpret the data, they were able to integrate our application into their business and achieve the goals that we had promised.  By helping our customer develop best practices that complimented our technology, we were able to drastically reduce the adoption time and allow customers to start receiving value in a single day.

If you find that your customers are having trouble adopting your software, here is a three step process that you can use to help your customer align their behavior with your application.

3 Steps to Aligning Customer Behavior with Your Application

  1. Define Success:  Work with your customer to define a realistic objective so that you are both working towards the same goal.  What are the short term and long term goals of the project?  What problem is the customer trying to solve?
  2. Identify Behaviors:  Have the customer determine the behavior that will help them achieve their goals.  What activities will people do on a consistent basis in order to reach the objectives?
  3. Align Product Functionality:  Finally, show how the functionality of the product can be used to support the behaviors that will help the customer achieve their goals. 

In some cases, you may find that the customer is not practicing the behaviors that they identified in step two.  If this is the case, help the customer identify intermediate milestones.  The first milestone should have customers mimic their current behavior in your application.  Once the employees have experience with the interface and are comfortable entering and retrieving data, then you can help introduce the new desired behaviors.  If you try to change behavior while someone is learning a new application, they will blame the application for their frustration.

If you are expecting your customer to automatically change their behavior in order to use your SaaS application, both you and your customer will fail.  As a customer success representative, it is your job to help customers align their behaviors with your application.  This alignment will speed up adoption, reduce churn and increase customer value.

Ward is a guest blogger for The Success League. The Success League is a consulting firm that partners with customer success leaders to unlock the retention and revenue potential in their team. Unlike approaches that focus on soft skills, we present customer data in a way that allows success teams to advocate for customer needs and drive true change in their organization. www.TheSuccessLeague.io

Ward Greunke Ward led the original customer success efforts at 1factory, helping grow the company from a small customer base to serving the Fortune 100 industry.  He studied behavioral economics during his MBA at Santa Clara University and writes a blog that shows how product features can drive behavior that is valued by the customer.  You can read more at latentvalue.blogsplot.com