Software publishers and customers like to believe technology purchases are made rationally, based on a product’s superior features, performance and/or interface.

Yet there’s a point in the customer journey where, if all goes well, users’ commitment to your software gets personal. Where they will study every last feature and proudly declare themselves a “ninja” level expert with your product. Where they will sing its praises in social media and convention halls. Where they will petition their IT and finance departments to buy your entire suite, and would sooner change jobs than work without your tools.

Your software needs more friends like these. And, ideally, you want them in positions where they’re making or influencing buying decisions.

So, how can you earn this level of devotion from users? And once you do, how can you help them become effective champions for your products within their organization?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Deliver concierge service to “high value” and “high potential” users – While you want to provide every user with stellar support, you also want to be efficient. But when serving individuals with control over budgets or influence over technology decisions, it might be worth adding a flag in your CRM to let your staff know they can take extra time and go the extra-extra-extra mile to address the user’s needs.

  • Offer personalized training – Normally, you want your training to be scalable with self-guided videos and group webinars, without support reps having to walk each user through your entire product, individually. That said, for system administrators or senior stakeholder whose opinion can make or break the customer relationship, you might consider assigning them a personal coach/tutor, to make absolutely sure they’re getting value from your product.

  • Take an interest in their success – It can only help your company for loyal users to rise within their organization or find a great job elsewhere and take your products with them. So how can software publishers help users get ahead? It starts with training them to deliver great work with your tools, then extends to educating them on the skills and best practices underlying your solution. At some point, you might consider a certification program, to help employers view proficiency with your products as an asset.

  • Help them communicate your value to colleagues – In all your interactions, from training to support to customer communications, make sure you use clear and consistent language to explain the value of your product. This will not only motivate users to master your software, but make it easier for them to describe what they love about your product to others.

The key here is to always look for opportunities to support users’ success and deepen relationships with them as individuals. With a strong product and a loyal user base, opportunities for growth will follow.

If you’re interested in developing better self-service resources for your software or discussing your support team’s deflection strategy, contact Sonata Learning Software Success for a consultation.

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Emil Heidkamp is the founder of Sonata Learning Software Success.  He has developed successful user training programs and support resources for enterprise software publishers of all sizes, from Microsoft to mid-size market leaders in various industries to growth-stage startups.