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Customer Onboarding Questions Answered Part II

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Customer Onboarding Questions Answered Part II
Photo by Element5 Digital

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.

Last week in part I of this two-part series we looked at why understanding your customer’s holistic needs is so important to getting onboarding right.

When the patterns of your most successful customers are known, it is possible for a vendor to codify that success into a repeatable, onboarding program that lays the foundation for the customer to be successful not only throughout onboarding, but for the entire customer journey as well.

In part II of Customer Onboarding Questions Answered, we discuss how to work with customers to motivate them through onboarding and take look at the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) for this phase of the journey.

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

Get it wrong and a vendor puts the customer retention rate at risk and spends more time trying to onboard the customer.

It is therefore critical that customer onboarding is done right.

Customer Onboarding Best Practices

What's your advice for managing customer outreach after onboarding is complete?

A prescriptive engagement model, defined for the entire customer lifecycle (i.e. along the entire customer journey) and based on driving repeated customer success, will outline how customer outreach after onboarding should be conducted. That is, outreach is based on when customers typically need help along the journey in order to successfully traverse it.

Outreach is also determined through active monitoring and measurement of the customer through the desired path. When a customer is not trending to the normal conversion rates and velocity through the customer funnel, outreach should be conducted proactively to help the customer before there is even a problem.

How have you accelerated time-to-value with your product through onboarding?

Product definitely plays an important role in accelerating time-to-value through onboarding. The easier and more seamless the product is to use, the better onboarding will be.

Time-to-value can also be accelerated through a holistic approach that uses product, customer-facing resources and automation in combination. When a company has its customer-centric model that understands what customers need and when, they can improve product, the engagement model and automation tools to better support the customer and accelerate their time to value.

How do you work with the customer to define their success? How do you correlate key onboarding events with the customer's success?

DesiredPath works with customers to design and then operationalize, their customer, centric, Intelligent Framework. When vendors know what it takes to drive repeated success for their customers, they are much more successful in operating in a repeatable and efficient manner.

With the Intelligent Framework, we outline what activities (both the vendor’s and customer’s) and metrics are required to successfully manage the customer to their desired objectives. Because the customer funnel metrics correlate directly to key metrics required across the entire journey (not just during onboarding) to achieve success, it is very easy to demonstrate how those events correlate directly to success.

How do you motivate unresponsive customers to go through the onboarding process?

First, validate the original desired business objectives with the customer to ensure their accuracy, priority and that they are still committed to achieving them. Define the full scope of their journey and specify the tasks required to achieve their desired objectives; this can even be established pre-sales. Lastly, hold the customer accountable for achieving their goals. Remind them of their outstanding and upcoming tasks at each stage along the journey so there are no surprises.

What are your most important onboarding KPIs, and why?

Align onboarding KPIs to the actions a customer needs to take during onboarding to discover value. And remember, KPIs will be very different depending on the industry the product is serving. Too often, companies’ onboarding KPIs reflect their internal tasks and not the customers’ real onboarding progress.

What's your tried-and-true best practice advice for SaaS customer onboarding? Conversely, has any best practice advice not worked for your organization, and why?

SaaS businesses make the common mistake of mapping the customer journey without holistically thinking of the customer and their business. Nearly every customer journey map I’ve seen is essentially an internal process map that outlines how the company thinks customers should use their product—not how customers truly organize themselves and leverage the product to reach their desired outcome.

I made the same mistake while leading Customer Experience at Eloqua and Oracle. We built an entire model predicated on the wrong perspective of the customer journey. From those learnings, I can summarize my 25-year career in software into two aha moments:

  1. Aligning your internal organization around the customer’s point of view is the best way to position your team to deliver a superior customer experience.

  2. Optimizing your customer journey based on the patterns of your most successful customers is the most effective method to drive growth in a proactive, repeatable, and scalable manner.

Create a customer-centric business model—like DesiredPath’s Intelligent Framework™—that is holistic, adaptable, and results-focused to accelerate your customer’s value and your revenue growth.

Bottom Line: Customer Centricity Drives Product Adoption

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

Companies that understand the patterns of their most successful customers can codify what’s working into a prescriptive, repeatable engagement model.

This intelligent framework allows roles and responsibilities to align to customer needs accordingly, thereby creating opportunity to drive success through the customer’s point of view in the most effective manner.

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