It's one thing to say you're a customer-centric organization, but it's quite another to be one. Customer centricity, especially during onboarding, begins with the realization that your organization's success depends entirely on how much value your customers realize from your offering. Your business goals will take care of themselves if you focus on delivering what was promised to your customer when making the sale.
Customer onboarding is the most crucial stage in the customer lifecycle and will determine whether a customer will remain loyal to your brand for life or will eventually churn.
Good customer onboarding is all about establishing a working relationship with your customers - from the moment they make the purchase to when the training wheels come off, and they can use your product without your assistance.
To nail this journey, you need a framework that helps you know what matters most to customers. Based on years of running onboarding projects for a vast customer pool spanning multiple industries of varying sizes, we've put together a five-point framework for customer-centric onboarding. We believe you will be truly customer-centric by investing all your efforts in these five dimensions.
The first step towards building trust and credibility with your customers is transparency. When you open up your onboarding process to your customers and give them a thorough view into the journey ahead with a comprehensive plan, you're setting the right expectations in the customers’ minds. It will become obvious to them that you care for their success. Think about it. They took a leap of faith, paid a good amount of money, and chose you over your competitors. It's your job to give them the reassurance and comfort they seek. And the best way to go about it is to ensure your customer onboarding process is as transparent as possible. Transparency is also a great way to break the ice. Once they know what to expect, they are less likely to go ballistic when something slips or goes wrong since they will be able to see the whole picture.
Here are a few areas you can consider being transparent:
Do you ever find out too late that a customer is running many weeks late on their onboarding and is losing confidence in your product? By the fourth week or so, the delays have snowballed into one big mess, and the executive sponsor on the customer side now believes you haven't been proactive enough. Sound relatable?
Being a pro at customer onboarding can be achieved in many ways, but the most effective and fail-proof approach is to run weekly onboarding standup meetings with your internal team. This weekly meeting will be a forcing function to ensure you're on top of things.
Get all your team members in CS and Onboarding to determine the status of every customer onboarding project. For each project, you should have the answers to the following questions:
You can run through the projects with delays, blockers, negative sentiment, low engagement, etc., and ask the team to discuss their plan for the week on those accounts.
Thinking about these aspects would help teams stay on top of all these dimensions for every account and would result in them strategizing their key next steps with customers. It also provides an avenue to identify patterns across customers and to brainstorm as a team - about solutions to top problems/scenarios.
This ensures you are reducing the time to value, and you will come across as a professional in your customers' minds.
If customers find your onboarding process challenging, either due to complex implementation or because the customer may not have the maturity required to use your product, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Your customers may lose hope along the implementation journey if it feels like too much effort from their end or if there's a lot of learning before they start seeing any value. This is when they start ghosting you and tell their bosses or colleagues that your product setup demands too much of their time and they aren't able to get their other work done.
If you hear that the customer "got busy with other priorities," one of your takeaways should be that they couldn't multi-task and take your implementation to completion because it was too much effort.
Start measuring what the customer feels the level of effort is for the onboarding, and try to understand which stages or steps they feel require the highest effort from their end.
Send out a survey to all customers going through the implementation journey with you - to collect how customers score you 1 to 10 on how complex your implementation was for them, and then information on what specific phases or tasks were hardest to get past.
This way, you can figure out how to make those steps easier, such as:
Every month you can reflect on the effort scores from your customers and identify key tasks, phases, or milestones that need a revamp to make it easy for the customer.
However, there's another side to this.
Some customers like their vendors to show some flexibility in their delivery. If your customer has a specific go-live date constraint or wants to do things faster, you should be able to accommodate their requirements as long as they promise to work with you with the same intensity.
Here's our recommended approach in these cases:
The more you do this, the more you will know where you want to show flexibility, what you want to bring ahead, what you want to keep for the next iteration, etc.
Communication is key to customer-centric onboarding. Having a clear communication protocol early on helps keeps things on track and creates a better experience for everyone involved. You come across as a professional team, everyone automatically becomes more accountable, and you can avoid many issues if you keep regular correspondence with your customers. Here are some essential areas your communication plan should cover:
A slide in your kickoff deck that covers all of this establishes the rules and expectations for smooth team engagement. It also is a forcing function for your team to follow the communication process. While there's no correct configuration for communication and meetings, it is still crucial to establish and get on the same page about how you will run the customer onboarding.
Here's a detailed project communication plan template to help you lay down how important information will be communicated to stakeholders throughout the project duration.
Customer experience is all about how you build and create customer interactions from the moment someone hears about your product to login and post-purchase. You've to make your customer feel like the protagonist throughout the journey.
To nail this, a company must create a model of what matters to customers, a graded short list of customer pain points to eliminate or fix, and opportunities to innovate as seen from the customer's perspective.
To help you offer a world-class customer experience, we've developed a solution to accelerate time to value and deliver a transparent, consistent, and delightful onboarding journey for all your customers.
Our dedicated customer portal is a game-changer. Each customer gets access to their own simple yet powerful portal to stay on top of all their onboarding-related tasks and updates. It makes it super easy for customers to collaborate on tasks, project plans, documents, and status updates. It's a step to make your customers feel like they're part of the journey, and it goes a long way in winning their confidence. You can customize the domain, logo, and theme and deliver a pleasant experience between your portal and your brand. Every customer gets that exclusive feeling. Isn't that what good customer experience is all about?
We hope this blog helped you reflect on your customer onboarding process and identify areas where you can level up.
Above all, if there’s one thing we’d like you to take away from this piece, it’s to always listen to your customers. Listening is the ultimate key to turning the spotlight on them. Find out what's working for them and what's not. Ask them what can be improved. Try making it a goal to call one customer each week.
Our State of Customer Onboarding Survey of 2022 found that over 60% of respondents used at least 4-6 tools for their customer onboarding. And while 56% reported low visibility into project progress as the primary cause for escalations, 58% believed holding customers accountable was their biggest challenge.
Rocketlane aims to change that. We strive to eliminate pain points around visibility, collaboration, productivity, consistency, and customer experience and make your onboarding process truly customer-centric.
Book a demo with us today!