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Customer Onboarding Questions Answered Part I

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Customer Onboarding Questions Answered Part I
Photo by Danielle MacInnes

Customer onboarding is a critical moment of truth in a customer’s journey.

It is where the transition from a prospect to a customer begins and where the customer first starts to use the product.

Up until now, the customer has only heard, or seen through demonstrations, the value proposition and the benefits the product promises to deliver.

It is during onboarding that they start the process of turning those promises into reality by first learning, and then leveraging, the product to achieve their desired objectives.

This phase of the customer journey is also where many transitions happen.

On the customer’s side, the people who purchased the product are usually different than those that will start to use and implement it.

Similarly, on the vendor’s side, the sales team is now transitioning the account over to Customer Success in order to educate and train users, and help configure and implement the product.

It is a time of a lot of change and complexity and for this reason customer onboarding is also prone to many challenges.

Get it wrong and a vendor jeopardizes getting the customer up and running and seeing value in an appropriate amount of time, putting the renewal and customer retention at risk.

Not to mention that it is much more chaotic and more effort for the vendor to support the rest of the customer journey when onboarding has gone poorly.

But get it right and this is where the magic starts.

Onboarding executed well sets the stage for healthy adoption, value realization and further expansion.

It is also more efficient to support the rest of the journey thereafter and more enjoyable for both the customer and the vendor’s employees to do so.

It is therefore critical that customer onboarding is done right.

As an expert in helping companies look at their customer’s total business to ensure customer success, DesiredPath was recently asked a number of questions regarding onboarding best practices.

Here are the questions and responses in part 1 of a 2-part series.

Customer Onboarding Best Practices

For organizations where Customer Success owns customer onboarding, how do other internal teams (specifically Marketing, Sales, Product or UX) support this process?

Roles will support the customer along the journey when the customer needs the specific skill sets of those roles to support them. This is stating the obvious but unfortunately companies usually do not know when the customer needs them.

That is why it is important that vendors understand what it takes to drive repeated success and then codify that into a customer-centric operational model that clearly outlines who is responsible for what and when along the customer journey. An Intelligent Framework makes it clear how a company needs to collaborate in order to support customers successfully through the customer journey.

How do you segment users for onboarding, and why? How has this approach been successful? Examples may include persona-based, market-based, or product-based segments

To start, segment customers by their adoption needs and/or business maturity. Identify what a customer genuinely needs to learn during onboarding to achieve their business objectives. Then, align your onboarding objectives accordingly.

A customer’s technical or domain proficiency should influence the focus of their onboarding. For example, if a customer displays deep technical expertise don’t waste their time on basic onboarding information. Adapt to their level of mastery and share product use cases that match those needs.

How do you avoid overloading the customer during the onboarding process?

Create a prescriptive, repeatable onboarding program that supports the customer with relevant and right-timed information that they require to successfully progress along the customer journey.

To create an Intelligent Framework – a customer-centric business model that aligns your operations to that of your customer’s journey:

· Understand the patterns of your most successful customers and document the successful customer journey map.

· Understand the relevant and right-time activities that your organization needs to execute in order to support the customer along the journey. In other words, create a repeatable, prescriptive engagement model.

· Map out the roles and responsibilities that will execute those activities.

· Measure customer progress through the journey for proactive engagement to ensure customers realize success and value.

Bottom Line: Understand Your Customer’s Needs

Successful onboarding occurs when vendors understand what customers need to know and do along the entire journey in order to reach their desired.

When this is known, they can develop a repeatable, onboarding program that lays the foundation for the customer to be successful; ensuring that they receive only the relevant information, at the right-time, and according to the customer’s business maturity.

Next week in part II of this Customer Onboarding series we will discuss how to work with customers to motivate them through onboarding and take a look at the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) for this phase of the journey.

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