Time flies, and sometimes it takes an anniversary to make you stop, look back and reflect. Ten years ago, our first customer signed up and GoodPractice was off and running. The excitement and joy of knowing that we had a product of value, and printing that first invoice was fabulous.

Our business model is built on the premise of retaining customers and we realised that to do this we had to, in the words of my co-founder Margaret Ford, “love them to death”. The results over the years are one of the things I’m most proud of as we have, year on year, retained in excess of 85% of our customers.

What we’ve learnt is that the best way to “love a customer to death” is to drive user engagement. There is no point in a customer buying the best leadership and management development content, if no one uses it. To help us and our customers we’ve developed a model that identifies six key steps to engagement, and we’ve found that if we consistently and systematically work through this model we can drive great engagement and high levels of usage.

engagement model
six stage engagement model

The model, which we believe can be applied to a range of online resources, is based on systems thinking. To improve a system, you need to work on all the failure points. In our systems model, if you don’t address each of the key points you will lose users at each point. Once you’ve lost them, it is far harder to regain their engagement and trust. We’ve set out five of the six failure points in terms of the sort of thing you would expect to hear from the key person at that stage. Not surprisingly, most of the stages involve the end user.

The starting point is that the end user believes that the site is of value to them and worth exploring. Over time, and as people move through the cycle of using the product, you need to aim to strengthen this relationship and hope they become advocates for the resources.

Inform - involvement- integration

Lance Dublin presented the above model in his presentation on implementation of learning technology at the ASTD International conference in Chicago last year.  This rings true for us; you have to take the user on a journey around the system a few times to move from awareness to commitment and I think there is a stage beyond this, of advocate, where the user wants to tell people how useful it is.  In the second blog on the six stage model I’ll cover each of the six stages in more detail.