The Preflight Huddle in San Francisco was our inaugural in-person event in the United States. We hosted Sabina M. Pons, who moderated a panel of leaders in the customer onboarding and CS space, including Amanda Berger, Bianca Garcia, Mary Poppen, and Tanya Strauss.
The panel discussed customer onboarding and other post-sales metrics to track during the customer journey—including the internal and external measures of success.
In this session, Sabina posed the following questions:
When it comes to customer onboarding, there are two kinds of success indicators you need to focus on:
Now we have a macro perspective, and it is time to dig deeper. Find out the measures to these success criteria and discuss whom to hold accountable for each measure.
Defining external customer onboarding success criteria might be a tedious process to start with. Still, the fruits of your labor will be rewarded with easier adoption and excellent reviews from your customer.
What happens when you neglect the external measures for customer onboarding success?
There is a misalignment between incentives for your services teams and what success means to your customers, particularly when your internal measures push your team to get customers up and running as early as possible.
While you might think that you have achieved scale, this has a long-term impact on churn. This correlation between faster time to value and churn impacts your overall performance as a company. It’s best to be proactive in setting suitable external measures to measure the success of your customer onboarding journey.
You should look at your processes annually. Reducing time to value is one of the top goals for a customer onboarding organization. Delivering quality time to value to customers is vital too.
Bringing in an external member to your onboarding reviews, such as your CSM or any external organization to review your processes, helps bring fresh and evolving perspectives. The iterative process shouldn't just be the call of an individual in a leadership role. It should be diverse and inclusive to bring about the changes an onboarding team themselves might miss.
We have taken the implementations off the hand of the CSM and built a small team to take complete ownership of the implementations. Their KPIs include time to value, improvements, and iterations as and when required for the customer onboarding process.
When the onboarding and implementation are handed to a lean team solely responsible for ensuring you get the onboarding right, they are more likely to get it right.
They answer questions like:
One of the hardest things about joint success is that after-sales sell to the economic buyer; the account gets passed on to the customer success team. Then the initiative is no longer driven by the economic buyer.
What success means to the economic buyer might be hugely different from how it is defined by the teams that would be the end users of your product. Here are a few tips to help you from getting caught in the web of mismatched expectations:
Having a CSM embedded within the sales or pre-sales process allows the CSM to get inputs into the discovery phase and reiterate value through the use cases used by the sales team. It drives additional value to establish a relationship with the customer and stay embedded throughout the onboarding journey.
We have a professional services team who are technical experts. This team handles specific implementations and parts of the project. As far as the onboarding project management goes, CSMs are responsible for executing the process.
The measures of success for those who are responsible for onboarding project management are time to first value, time to value (TTV), time to appointment - the time it takes for the CSM to get the customer on call, and time to adoption.
When CSMs work as project managers, they manage the relationship all the way from the pre-sale conversation with the economic buyer to the renewal phase. When you have a one-person CSMs army, managing all of the work from post-sales to success, the individual acts as a consultant to internal teams.
During the customer journey mapping, however, as the onboarding evolves, it is essential to lay out the roles, responsibilities, and measures of success for each so that there is clarity on multiple aspects of the journey. Whether one person is doing all of it or there are four different people in four different roles: a technical person, a project manager, and someone offering training to other members, it is essential to define all the roles and responsibilities.
Taking the prescriptive approach to customer onboarding and being proactive could be a game changer for an onboarding manager. Understanding the key levers driving your pain points and working with the customers to devise a solution for them will help your team show positive results on the customer scorecard.
Looking at where the customer expects to be in the journey and where we expect to help puts things in perspective. You are the expert in understanding their business needs, and helping the customer with your solution by being consultative goes a long way throughout the customer journey.