Onboarding is an opportunity to set your customer up for success. It is the first glimpse they get of your product and your team, and your first chance to demonstrate how you can help them meet their business goals.
Your customer onboarding workflow should guide you through the process of helping your customer integrate the product into their daily business activities so they can start achieving their goals. It is a series of goal-focused best practices that build customer proficiency to the point where they can use the product independently. It is also a process that you should be prepared to scale as you grow your business. For example, you may consider automating campaigns to help show next steps. Whatever your business needs, the following best practices will help you establish milestones that your customer success team can access as they coordinate meetings and set expectations.
Best Practices for a Strong Customer Onboarding Workflow
Onboarding is about helping the customer to help themselves. They invested in your product because they want to get some kind of value from it. Onboarding should give your customer the information they need to use your product to achieve that value and derive it quickly.
Start by identifying the customer’s goals, then closely watch customer behavior during the onboarding phase (and beyond) to make sure they progress in a healthy way. Every customer’s business goals are unique, but following the customer onboarding workflow strategies outlined below will help you ensure they are experiencing value:
Complete a Comprehensive Sales Handover
It is important that you gather detailed customer information and make it accessible to every member of your enterprise, especially when a customer moves from the sales team to the onboarding team. All the information collected by sales needs to be communicated to the customer success team, including the customer’s business goals, motivations, and expectations regarding time to value. You can use this information to establish customer-specific milestones and KPIs during onboarding. If you prepare this information in advance you can even review it with the customer at your first meeting.
A comprehensive handover ensures the customer does not have to repeat themselves during onboarding and shows that your enterprise understands their needs.
Keep an Eye on Onboarding Progress
Your customer onboarding workflow should be guided by real-time customer experience data. By closely monitoring customer progress through onboarding with an effective system designed to take action based on customer progress, you can measure their performance against results-focused goals that you know will lead to success. Such goals need to be specific and might include the time taken to meet implementation timelines, the percentage of license utilization, and other metrics to ensure the organization delivers a great experience for new customers.
You should continue to track customer usage metrics after a customer leaves onboarding and enters the adoption phase. Rates of product access, feature use, and license uptake not only inform the current customer experience but can also reveal the effectiveness of your onboarding phase. Customers who seldom use your product during adoption may not have received comprehensive enough training or a key user or contact may have left the organization.
Anticipate Needs and Potential Bottlenecks
Your customer onboarding workflow should follow an established pattern of checking customer progress and anticipating future behavior. Your knowledge of your customer’s business goals should let you predict which product features will be most important to a given customer, helping you look ahead to what they might need next.
Segmentation can also help you anticipate and alleviate bottlenecks that previous customers have encountered. Consistently reviewing your onboarding process will reveal where customers of similar size and industry are likely to have trouble or fails to use features to their full capacity.
Handle Escalations Quickly
There is a lot of new information and work practices being given to your customers during onboarding, so be ready to tackle any questions and escalations. Frustrations early on can permanently sour a customer, so it is vital that you are ready with a personalized, informative response when problems arise. You should have standard processes to guide CSMs with best practices for handling escalations.
Review After Onboarding
Proactive communication with customers is vital at every stage of their journey. It provides a direct opportunity to learn how to improve the customer experience from the customers themselves. You can conduct an interview or issue a survey that asks your customers to review their onboarding experience. Feedback can then be used to refine standard onboarding processes.
Continue to Offer Customer Training
Onboarding continues until a customer can use your product independently. However, you should never stop offering them more instruction on achieving maximum value. Consider sharing customer stories, reviews of features that helped customers achieve specific business goals, product roadmap sessions, new feature releases, customer webinars, community posts, and blogs detailing best practices.
This continued offering should take the form of proactive, personalized messaging that reflects each customer’s unique circumstances. If you notice the customer isn’t using X feature that can be used to achieve Y value, then reach out explaining why that feature could help them meet their goals and offer training.
Use the Right Customer Success Software
Collecting and sharing customer information is the foundation of your customer success efforts. It is important that the customer success software you use brings together data from a range of sources and provides next steps (that are generated by your organization) based on that data.
You should be able to get an at-a-glance picture of customer health and track progress throughout onboarding and beyond. The best CS software works as an early warning system that will notify the appropriate team member when significant customer behavior occurs. It will also indicate what to do next based on that customer behavior, helping you to identify opportunities for growth and customers at-risk.
Your Customer Onboarding Workflow Should Deliver Value
Onboarding is a critical first step in establishing a customer relationship. Every element of the onboarding process should be geared toward accelerating the customer experience of value so you can establish the effectiveness of your product early on.
By closely tracking progress and taking action, you can make sure your customer stays on course to start generating ROI as soon as possible. This shortened time to value is part of what it takes to build a partnership between you and the customer.
Totango’s customer success platform helps you achieve your onboarding goals—as well as your goals and KPIs for each stage of the customer journey. Request a demo today to optimize your onboarding workflow.
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