Customer success

How Elsevier used Core Events to define adoption success

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Aligned on a common language of product success

Improved product experience with data-driven decision making

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At Elsevier, multidisciplinary collaboration is at the heart of improving the customer experience—as is enriching the end user’s in-product experience. To accomplish this, agreeing on a set of key success metrics is essential. Tommy Rahardjo, customer experience expert at Elsevier, and Maks Keppel, product analyst at Elsevier, both support product teams in doing so. To improve the value they deliver to product teams, Rahardjo and Keppel were looking for a better and more consistent way to understand and measure success for users within Elsevier’s portfolio of products.

Specifically, Rahardjo and Keppel wanted to understand and optimize the user experience for Elsevier’s biomedical database, Embase. Since users (typically scientists and researchers) use Embase to conduct literature research, Rahardjo and Keppel wanted to measure the search experience and understand what a successful visit to Embase looks like. To tackle this problem, the team looked to Pendo’s Core Events

Choosing Elsevier’s Core Events

With the support of Pendo’s professional services team, Rahardjo, Keppel and the Embase team embarked on a journey to identify the parts and actions in the product that correspond to successful usage. With driving up adoption being the ultimate goal, the team wanted to make sure that they selected the touchpoints that were truly “aha” moments—behaviors that lead users to realize the platform’s full value—so they could drive users to experience them as quickly as possible.

Prior to Core Events, everyone had a different way of measuring success—they were looking at numerous different KPIs, and lacked a common or cohesive way to define what successful adoption looked like. Though challenging at first, the team appreciated the exercise of carefully thinking through the “aha” moments that drive the most value for their users. They first mapped out a successful path for running a search, then brainstormed a list of over a dozen touchpoints along that happy path. Then came the hard part: Since Pendo limits users to just 10 Core Events, the team needed to be strategically selective.

“Selecting just 10 Core Events forced us to really think through the key moments that lead to a successful search for the user,” said Keppel. It soon became clear that there were several different ways people were defining successful adoption. “I think Core Events was a powerful forcing mechanism that helped resolve a lot of these inconsistencies within our organization, and that in and of itself is a big win,” Rahardjo said.

Aligning on a common language of success

With the 10 Core Events defined and available for the entire organization to see, the Embase team was able to settle on a common definition of what success looks like. “Core Events helped us mature the teams in how they understand and measure success. Everyone is finally working towards the same goal,” said Keppel. 

With that crucial work completed, the Embase team then started using Core Events to develop a benchmark for adoption—a pillar of Pendo’s Product Engagement Score (PES) measurement. “Having a benchmark adoption figure is very important because now we can truly measure success for Embase,” said Rahardjo.

With this renewed focus, the Embase team could collaborate on influencing the adoption of Core Events with various activities both inside and outside Pendo. The team was able to form a series of hypotheses on what each department could do to improve adoption. “And with the data around Core Events from Pendo, we can then validate our efforts. For example, are those efforts leading to better Core Events adoption? Is there any link between them? That’s a challenge we are trying to tackle now,” Keppel said.

Becoming more user-centric with data

Another question the Embase team noted is often top of mind: How do we decide what feature to build next, or even what areas to improve in the product? 

As the frontlines to the customer, it was commonplace for customer success to define their roadmap based on escalation issues or anecdotes from the field. But this approach was neither data-driven, nor did it take into account the researcher’s search experience. Defining Core Events and getting all departments—customer success, product, and more—on the same page about these Core Events helped the Embase team take a more data-driven approach to listening to the end user.

“Core Events is helping us in the process of becoming more user-centric,” said Keppel. “For example, this helps the customer success team think, or at least have a metric in mind, about how they need to develop walkthrough guides or understand how researchers can conduct a search more successfully,” said Rahardjo.

Ultimately, Core Events helped transform the way Elsevier understands successful product adoption. And it has been a uniting force for teams to think about the KPI in a measurable and consistent way. “The simple way Pendo manages adoption with the use of Core Events helps us also simplify our efforts to understand, define, and measure adoption. And we are excited to apply this process to our other products as well,” said Rahardjo.

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