The Adoption Factor: You Built it So Why Didn't They Come?
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The Adoption Factor: You Built it So Why Didn't They Come?

Talbert Thomas, VP, Digital Strategy, Lincoln Financial Group
Talbert Thomas, VP, Digital Strategy, Lincoln Financial Group

Talbert Thomas, VP, Digital Strategy, Lincoln Financial Group

The emergence of new technology and digital-born companies are transforming customer expectations and driving traditional companies, like Lincoln Financial, to alter their business models and adapt to new capabilities needed to deliver an unmatched customer experience. In fact, 89 percent of organizations have adopted or have plans to adopt a digital-first strategy.

 Organizations investing time and resources into digital capabilities need to ensure they are adding value, delivering on real needs and truly creating a better customer experience 

Investing, building and releasing new digital features is only the beginning on the road to enhanced customer experience. Successfully implementing new digital capabilities is not as turnkey as the Field of Dream line, “if you build it, they will come,” may lead you to believe. The famous quote is missing an important element for digital transformation: the need to drive adoption.

Organizations investing time and resources into digital capabilities need to ensure they are adding value, delivering on real needs and truly creating a better customer experience. This is where digital adoption steps up to the plate and helps facilitate return on investment (ROI).

Driving digital adoption is a vital concern for any organization implementing a new digital capability. Put simply, adoption means that new technologies are used appropriately and to their fullest capacity. Driving adoption helps users, whether its employees or customers, transition from a legacy way of doing things to a new way of doing things that is better, faster, more comprehensive, and altogether more efficient. It’s more than just a new “way of doing the job,” it entails a shift in culture and perspective.

Adoption Changeup

At Lincoln, we’re committed to improving our customers’ experience and increasing organizational effectiveness and efficiency. A relatively new and very important component in our ongoing transformation is making the cultural shift to a value-driven digital strategy rooted in adoption.

The focus began last year when Lincoln planned to make a larger investment in digital capabilities to elevate our employee and customer experience. To meet ROI targets for the new investment, we needed to attain higher adoption rates than Lincoln had ever done before. You cannot do the same thing and expect different results, so we knew we needed to do something different and get laser-focused on adoption.

We started by looking inside the organization. We conducted a thorough assessment of our approaches to drive adoption across the enterprise to better understand what was working, what was not and why. Then we shifted our sights outside of Lincoln. We researched how other leading organizations tackled this opportunity and identify methods that could work for us. We synthesized the learning to develop a set of adoption best practices specific to Lincoln and established a dedicated Digital Adoption practice to champion these best practices.

Now, the Digital Adoption team is putting these best practices to work to help Lincoln get better at driving adoption and sustain good adoption practices. For example, the team’s initial targeted adoption work was a collaboration with a contact center team to drive more self-service and higher online registration rates. The effort resulted in a substantive change in the pace of registration rates and proved out the viability of our adoption best practices.

The Lincoln Playbook

The team continues to identify opportunities to collaborate with business partners on targeted adoption work as well as foster a community of practice within Lincoln. The Digital Adoption practice uses a four-step process to scale and embed adoption practices throughout the organization:

Understand and measure how users leverage our technology: The best way to facilitate a better user experience is to understand their end-to-end journey, any pain points they encounter and meet them where they are now. Historically for Lincoln, our data has been siloed, and our business partners only had a partial view into the customer journey. To remove this roadblock, we build-in the identification of adoption data requirements based on adoption metrics and a data capture plan upfront. And we’ve started to bring data from different systems together to provide deeper insights. The full picture is essential to meeting user needs and differentiating the user experience.

Set and monitor clear adoption targets: After grasping user behavior, we get intentional about adoption. We establish and monitor clear adoption targets based on the new or desired user behaviors with leading indicators. Collect user data and feedback, and then iterate based on how users are responding. Adoption is an iterative process. By monitoring adoption often, we can learn, react and ultimately deliver a higher-quality experience for our users.

Align resources to drive adoption targets: Digital-native companies typically have distinct teams or cohorts of dedicated resources to drive digital engagement – often called growth teams. Classic industry giants like Amex and Delta have established similar models that often include adoption or customer utilization teams. At Lincoln, the Digital Adoption practice is laser-focused on adoption and partners with the businesses to establish their own distinct focus areas as well as metrics and activities to drive adoption and increase digital engagement.

Establish, evolve and expand best practices: The best way to continuously drive adoption is to openly share information and breakdown organizational silos that impede coordination across the enterprise. The Digital Adoption team serves as the connective tissue for Lincoln when it comes to adoption. We openly share use cases, adoption playbooks and a number of tools to drive best practices. For example, we offer an adoption activity and planning tool, which helps identify the right adoption tactics and build a plan against those activities based on customer segments attributes. Transparency facilitates cross-functional collaboration towards driving adoption; ultimately providing our customers with a seamless and user-friendly experience.

Embracing digital adoption practices is not necessarily easy in and of itself. However, with laser focus, cross-collaboration, and a deep understanding of the benefits, companies can begin to make the changes necessary for a successful future. Remember, “if you build it, you must drive adoption, and then they will come.”


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