Phase Three: Engagement

Once your new customers have mastered basic product skills, their continuing engagement with you will be largely based on their ability to extend the value they get from their product. If they’re successful, these long-term users will generate steady license revenue—but more importantly, they’ll become in-house champions, advisors to their co-workers, and industry evangelists.

Some common problems during the engagement phase:

getting started

Lack of advanced training: Technology companies invest heavily in R&D, but, surprisingly, they often do a poor job of keeping their own power users up-to-date. As a result, major customers may be unaware of new features and capabilities and how to take advantage of the expanded functionality.

A better approach: Engage advanced users with premium content, such as a weekly “Tips & Techniques” video subscription, deep-dive tutorials on important technical topics, and workshops and seminars focused on new releases.

classroom

No short-term access to experts: Advanced users sometimes encounter problems that are too complex for tech support but don't justify a professional services engagement... and finding an appropriate expert can take many frustrating hours.

A better approach: Set up a simple “mentoring” program that provides access to a top-level expert when it's needed. To avoid billing problems, sell a block of prepaid time—say, ten hours—and debit the user’s account as the time is used.

getting started

Confusing access to professional services: Advanced users are likely to be involved in large-scale projects that could involve your professional services organization. But services teams can be reluctant to talk to an unknown user. The result: a lost opportunity and a frustrated would-be evangelist.

A better approach: Encourage your professional services organization to proactively connect with advanced users, and offer fast-track access to for designated VIP customers if/when it's needed.

getting started

No rewards for top contributors: It’s now common for companies to host web-based product support forums—but not all forums clearly identify their most active and knowledgeable contributors. Since visibility and respect are the only real reward for forum participation, many contributors eventually lose interest and drift away.

A better approach: Showcase your top experts on forum pages, give them sneak previews of new versions, offer free products, and invite them to speak at your events.