A customer onboarding project can feel a lot like a game of Jenga with multiple players, where if one person makes the wrong move everything can fall apart.
You have to make sure you don’t topple the entire plan when working on a specific activity. You’re constantly worrying about how best to make it smooth for your customer. Or your optimization efforts are giving lesser and lesser returns with every project.
So how do you get better at the customer onboarding game and increase your chances of desirable outcomes? Well, we have a maturity model that can help you with just that.
A maturity model helps you understand the areas in your customer onboarding methodology that require improvement. It also enables you to prioritize specific areas that you want to improve based on your company’s maturity level.
Based on our own experience having worked in the onboarding space and our conversations with peers in the customer onboarding and implementation area, we’re launching today our Customer Onboarding Maturity Model:
Before we get into the details, some points to note:
This dimension helps you understand how value-focused you are as a company. For SaaS businesses, it is essential that the customer gets to value realization faster. The more customers who can see value quickly, the lesser the frustrations and churn and for your business. Ultimately, delivering value is the most important thing to do to increase your NRR.
For this indicator, analyze whether everyone on your team understands what value you are trying to unlock for the customer. This gives you a fair idea of how value-oriented your CS org is and where you need to intervene and help people reorient.
Are you able to measure the ROI and value? Are the metrics you are looking at aligning with the ROI you are measuring when delivering value to your customer? To measure your ROI, you need to conduct pre-implementation and post-implementation measurements in the customer org to showcase the value you will deliver. E.g., if you are implementing your chatbot for a customer who has switched from a competitor, you need to showcase how your product is doing better than the competitor’s. You need to spend some effort in benchmarking before showcasing your ROI, as the latter will depend on the former. Without that benchmarking, showcasing to your customer what value you have added will be difficult and hypothetical.
Time-to-value is an important metric, mainly for SaaS businesses. Any delay in your customer realizing value can increase the chances for churn.
This is another way to orient yourself around the ROI of your onboarding. You could use 30-day, 60-day, 90-day milestones and track the value delivered for each of these durations.
Instead of focusing on features and modules to be implemented, focus on the value you will deliver and align with your customers on the value to be delivered. Your scope will also be oriented towards this. If you apply this to the chatbot implementation scenario discussed earlier, the goal would look like the percentage of effort the chatbot could save in monetary terms instead of the types of questions the chatbot could handle on its own.
The second dimension focuses on the onboarding experience for your customer and how you deliver their onboarding goals.
Check whether you have a robust onboarding plan and live status that can be showcased to the customer at every stage in the journey. Knowing you have a solid plan and that they can access the project status at any time during the onboarding journey will win the customer’s confidence.
Setting the right expectations with your customer and getting crucial sign-offs from them to ensure that teams are aligned and don’t get surprised should be a part of your customer onboarding process. You also need to have communication protocols defined to ensure that stakeholders know when to escalate and whom to escalate to; this way, everyone will know exactly what to do when faced with issues. This is an indicator of how mature your customer onboarding process is. The more mature your strategy, the smoother the experience is for the customer.
How often your customer onboarding projects are delayed, what goals take longer than estimated to reach, and the CSAT scores indicate where your onboarding process needs improvement.
Does the onboarding process wear your customer down? Does it seem like it is asking a lot from them? How much heavy lifting do they have to do? The Customer Effort Score (CES) measures these aspects and will help you know where you need to make things easier for your customers in the onboarding journey.
You might want to read: PartnerStack’s Data-Driven Customer Onboarding Decisions
This dimension evaluates how well your onboarding methodology adapts to the needs of your customers and how your company is equipped to handle customer onboarding.
Do you change your onboarding process and plans according to the maturity of your customer or their industry? This influences your strategy, your customer onboarding goals, and the people from your org who will engage. E.g., Suppose a customer has never used a product like yours before. In that case, that will need specific team members of yours who are good at implementing the product for such customers, and the goals would also be different from that of a customer who is switching from a competitor.
Are you able to achieve consistency through your systems and processes? E.g. by having templates for your projects and onboarding documents, you can achieve consistency and a higher rate of adherence to the process.
Do you have a team dedicated to onboarding customers? Or does the same team involved in all post-sales activities handle customer onboarding too?
Not all customers are equal. Some of them may need you to fill specific gaps for them before you begin onboarding them. Otherwise, they don’t fall under your ICP anymore.
As you grow and expand, you may want to start looking at external partners to start implementing on your behalf instead of just adding more people to your implementation team.
This dimension assesses your process to track customer onboarding metrics and your project management strategies and plans.
Are you able to capture metrics? Are you able to look at TTV, CSAT, time taken per milestone, and slice your data based on region, team, etc.? This would give you a clear picture of what the best effort looks like and help you create a benchmark internally for your customer onboarding function.
Do you have ways to audit compliance with your playbooks and the timelines and processes around them? Are you able to check if your team is adhering to best practices?
Is there a process in place to measure success regularly, say every quarter or so? Is there a conscious effort or program geared towards improving your customer onboarding methodology?
There are many areas in your customer onboarding journey where you can automate activities that are being done manually, such as enabling certain features and configurations. Automating them impacts CES and helps you scale faster.
Can activities that are being done manually, such as follow-ups and status updates, be automated? This frees up time for the customer onboarding manager, and they can focus on process improvements.
There is no universal ideal or ‘right’ score for your customer onboarding process. If you score low on a dimension, it is simply a cue for you to reflect upon whether that works for your company or if it is something to focus on. If you have multiple areas with low scores and are looking to improve them, you could take one theme, say, every quarter and work towards improving it.
What is your customer onboarding maturity score? Click here to find out