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How Vendors Can Improve Upgrades for Customers 2022 How Vendors Can Improve Upgrades for Customers 2022
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How Vendors Can Improve Upgrades for Customers 2022

author - Rebecca Hammond
Author
Rebecca Hammond
author - Chloe Jensen
Author
Chloe Jensen
 
November 9, 2022 | Read Time: 5  minutes

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KLAS research shows that HIT vendors see more sales and increased retention rates when they continually develop new features to help drive greater success and adoption among customers. In a recent study, KLAS interviewed 55 HIT vendors about how they roll out upgrades to customers. Drawing from those insights and vendor performance data, this white paper outlines four areas that are critical to ensuring smooth upgrades for both vendors and customers: clear communication, training, proactive assistance with upgrades and adoption, and all customers being on the latest version of the product.

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Clear Communication

Finding 1: Decisions about Future Development Should Be Determined by Volume of Enhancement Requests

Using customer requests to determine which features to include in future upgrades is more impactful than trying to compete with other vendors’ offerings. Enhancement requests can be tracked using various methods (e.g., using an online voting system, tracking enhancement-request tickets, or having customer success managers collect and share requests). Vendors that use request volume as their key decision-making metric consistently have higher customer satisfaction with the product’s overall quality. 

Overall product quality and vendors key metric for future development decisions

Finding 2: Different Forms of Communication Serve Different Purposes

Regularly communicating through different channels is necessary to establish appropriate expectations and position customers for success. Email communication and communication through customer success managers (CSMs) are table stakes. Additionally, the following methods all have a positive impact on various metrics:

  • Newsletters: Vendors that use newsletters to communicate upgrades in the pipeline have customers who are more satisfied with the implementation.
  • Executive webinars: Vendors that offer executive webinars to communicate upgrades in the pipeline see higher customer ratings for delivery of new technology.
  • User groups: Vendors that significantly leverage user groups during development see higher customer ratings for driving outcomes and delivering new technology.


Vendors should leverage these different communication channels to establish regular communication with customers. Those that don’t have a communication timetable see lower customer satisfaction with overall product quality and implementations.

Training

Vendors should provide adequate upgrade training for their customers, with documentation being the bare minimum expectation. Leveraging a train-the-trainer model, video training, and CSM involvement drives higher customer satisfaction with training. CSMs play an essential role in driving ongoing training, both directly and indirectly—if they aren’t asked to conduct the training, they should still act as a support liaison during the upgrade. Vendors whose CSMs offer training or act as a training liaison have statistically higher customer satisfaction with the quality of training.

quality of training and csm role during upgrades

Proactive Assistance with Upgrades and Adoption

It is important for vendors to guide their customers down proven paths to success. Vendors that use a hands-off approach—e.g., having customers do their own QA testing and adoption-level reporting—have lower customer satisfaction than those who take a more prescriptive approach. Vendors can boost customer satisfaction with implementations by eliminating required testing/validation for customers. Additionally, vendors that use customer feedback to determine adoption levels often have lower customer ratings for the product having needed functionality. Customer feedback doesn’t always identify adoption levels and usability gaps; thus, vendors are better positioned to measure these metrics. With this approach, customers are more successful. Customers of vendors that use adoption-tracking methods—such as internal analytics and dashboards—rate the proactive service and product functionality higher than customers of vendors who rely on customer feedback.

Product has needed functionality and vendor method for measuring adoption

All Customers on Latest Version of Product

When possible, vendors should move all customers to the product’s latest version. This leads to higher customer satisfaction with implementations, as the upgrade process is more seamless and all customers can take full advantage of the latest functionality. Vendors who allow customers to lag behind the latest version have customers who are less satisfied with product quality and implementations. Of the vendors whose entire customer base uses the latest version, many offer cloud-based solutions; vendors with cloud-based solutions who haven’t yet moved their entire customer base to the latest version have customers who are significantly dissatisfied with the implementation. Vendors can help customers transition to the newest version and get needed support by eliminating à la carte charges for upgrades or upgrade services (these charges can negatively impact customers’ perception of the product quality). Additionally, vendors that provide significant updates more than quarterly and minor updates weekly see higher customer satisfaction with the delivery of new technology.

quality of implementation and percent of customers on latest version deliver of new technology and cadence of significant updates

About This Report

KLAS regularly interviews HIT vendors about their practices to better understand what drives vendor excellence. The resulting data—shared via white papers, webinars, and one-on-one calls with vendors—examines vendor practices and customer satisfaction, reveals how vendors are impacting their customers’ experience, and suggests how vendors can better aide their customers. Previously published insights include strengthening customer success programs, driving sales and retention, and ensuring customer success during the pandemic. In the future, KLAS intends to share insights around staffing shortages, training, and more.

For this paper, KLAS interviewed 55 HIT vendors and asked them the following questions:

  1. Can customers opt out of upgrades?
  2. How do customers pay for upgrades?
  3. Do you offer implementation services to do the upgrade?
  4. What development methodology do you use?
  5. On average, how often do you release significant updates (not bug fixes)? How often do you release more minor/incremental upgrades or bug fixes?
  6. What role do community groups play in development?
  7. What metrics do you use to choose what you’re developing?
  8. What is your standard communication cadence around upgrades?
  9. How do you communicate upgrades in the pipeline?
  10. How do you communicate your development timeline to customers? When you do communicate this timeline, when do you share hard dates vs. soft dates?
  11. How do customers give their input on product development, including upgrades/enhancements?
  12. How and when do you communicate to customers when you need to adjust your timeline for the product road map/upgrades?
  13. When sharing information on upgrades/new features to clients, who in the organization are you primarily disseminating information to?
  14. What role does a CSM play in the upgrade process?
  15. What steps are included in your QA process? Is the customer required to do independent testing or validation?
  16. Of your last five major releases, how many required immediate hotfixes or patches?
  17. Describe your QA process.
  18. What percent of customers are on your latest version?
  19. What is the predominate training resource available to educate customers on upgrades?
  20. What level of training do you require of customers as part of the upgrade process?
  21. How do you track adoption of new features and enhancements?
  22. What do you do if clients are not adopting the functionality?
  23. How much customization do you allow?
  24. What is your approach to letting customers opt out of upgrades?
  25. How many versions behind do you allow customers to be?
  26. What is the most important thing you do to drive the success of upgrades?
  27. Rate how well your organization delivers new technology that meets your customers’ needs


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author - Sarah Hanson
Writer
Sarah Hanson
author - Breanne Hunter
Designer
Breanne Hunter
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This material is copyrighted. Any organization gaining unauthorized access to this report will be liable to compensate KLAS for the full retail price. Please see the KLAS DATA USE POLICY for information regarding use of this report. © 2023 KLAS Research, LLC. All Rights Reserved. NOTE: Performance scores may change significantly when including newly interviewed provider organizations, especially when added to a smaller sample size like in emerging markets with a small number of live clients. The findings presented are not meant to be conclusive data for an entire client base.