Is Your North Star a Lagging Indicator?

Why lagging indicators are preventing you from seeing the full picture.

 Is Your North Star a Lagging Indicator?
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Does your onboarding funnel fall off at one key connection point?

We see this all of the time with our customers. The good news is the solution is pretty simple. Let me explain using the example of a recent conversation that I had with a founder. During our conversation, the founder expressed her frustration with users not performing key actions within their product, "we made it so easy for them to do. It's just one click. Why are they not doing it?"

This founder's frustration is a common issue that many PLG and customer success teams face— getting users to take a key action that is required to adopt a new product.

Whenever I have these conversations, I always start with a question..."What's the benefit to that user for taking that action?"

She responded with a litany of features and benefits, most of which helped the product admin. I re-asked my question, "what's the benefit to the user for taking that action?" After a little prodding, there was one feature that did provide a downstream benefit to the user, but it is unclear if all of the users knew about this benefit or how it helps them.

The reason that users do not take a key action within your product is very simple...they don't understand its benefit. We often take the benefit to that user for granted. It's so obvious to us why they should use that feature. So, if you have a big fall off in the onboarding funnel, the customer is telling you one of two things:

  1. They don't know the benefit to them.
  2. They do know the benefit, but don't agree with your conclusion that it is great.

This is why I think that most "north star" features are really a lagging indicator. The users will only do these actions when they realize the benefit to them. The solution to this problem is to focus onboarding on leading indicators - other product features that produce a benefit for the user for performing the desired action. When customers see how the desired action can benefit them, they are more likely to take that action.

If users clearly understand the benefit to them for completing the north star action and still don't do it, then they don't agree that the benefit is worth the effort. The only way to know if this is the case is to make sure that the benefit is explicitly clear to the users, and then observe their behavior. If you don't see the change, then you have a product problem and the fix is to speak with the customers to understand why the customers do not agree with the anticipated benefit.

I have a favorite saying that is really blunt, but I think important to remember...the customer does NOT want your product. The customer wants a solution to their problem or a way to achieve a goal. The success of your product adoption depends on how well you can connect the product features to the customer's goals, needs, or pain points. Don't assume that the customer understands this benefit. It is important to focus on leading indicators in your user onboarding, rather than lagging indicators, to drive customer adoption and engagement.

Reach out to me if you want to discuss how you can improve your onboarding to increase PLG or PLS upgrades or reduce customer churn. We help a lot of PLG Growth and Customer Success teams increase revenue.

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Winware helps SaaS teams drive better trial conversion rates or higher retention rates by optimizing SaaS onboarding to align product features with customer's goals.