Customer onboarding tips

The Ultimate Customer Onboarding Tips - Part III: Shoot for the stars

A collection of the most insightful client onboarding tips from Rocketlane's CEO, Srikrishnan Ganesan
February 16, 2022
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Welcome to Part III of the Customer Onboarding Tips blog series. In part II, we looked at how you can level up your onboarding game by focussing on value delivery, conducting reverse demos, and how you can gamify your process.

In the next set of tips, we’ll look at how you can celebrate an Onboarding Day, conduct an ROI workshop for your customer, carve out specialized roles within your team, and more.

Ready? Let’s go.

Tip #11: It's Onboarding Day. Celebrate!

The original inspiration for the idea comes from a friend of ours, Aditya Maheshwari, who heads Customer Success at Appsflyer. For one of their large enterprise customers with many apps and business lines, they decided to do an "Appsflyer Day" at the end of the implementation. They invited all the business leaders and users from the customer side. It was a way for them to get all the users excited about Appsflyer, form good connections with the team, and push adoption in each business line.

Every customer onboarding can end with a celebratory event, focusing on driving excitement and subsequently adoption to ensure the success of the implementation.

Here are some thoughts around how to hold your Onboarding Day:

  1. Brand it: For Rocketlane, we call this the "Onboarding Day" (since we're a customer onboarding product). You can think of how you want to do this for your team. You can use the function or your product in branding the celebration. We preferred the function over our brand since this is a function doing great work that deserves more recognition.
  2. Make it about the customer onboarding function itself: We decided that Onboarding Day isn't just about Rocketlane, but it is a day where the customer's organization recognizes the need to invest in the growth and progress of the Customer Onboarding/Implementation team. So we divided the day's activities into educational sessions and showcased ideas from the team on how to level up in onboarding, including how they use Rocketlane.
  3. Make part of it a group activity: To ensure everyone is excited, we decided our Onboarding Day should involve dividing the customer's team into groups and presenting ideas around leveyling up the company's onboarding game. At Rocketlane, we typically get our customers to invite their VP Sales, CTO, CRO, etc., as the panel, so there's also exciting feedback from the leaders. The onboarding team also gets better visibility for their good work!
  4. Tailor it: Don't run the same playbook for every team. Understand if there are any specific challenges or goals in that customer's org and design your program to help address those.

We make it a point to showcase the "Onboarding Day" as part of our customer onboarding journeys for teams having more than ten members, so we ensure leaders are excited about this event for their teams even before they decide to buy Rocketlane.

It helps you showcase what a successful implementation looks like, culminating in a celebratory event! Try this and tell us how you iterated on it to make it succeed in your company!

Tip #12: The ROI Workshop

An ROI workshop lets the customer know that you are looking to establish ROI and measure progress on their business goals once they are fully live with your software.

What happens in this workshop?

The ROI workshop is a way for you to formally signal and work with the sponsor on the customer side to showcase how your offering is delivering on its promised value. The idea is to map the business value behind each of the customers' goals with your offering and measure how you've done against those goals.

Typically, ROI is measured around growing new accounts, cutting costs, increasing LTV, increasing productivity in a function (hence lower headcount as you scale and lower costs), and ensuring consistent execution. This ensures that value creation by the function is higher, or customer experience is improved - which ties to faster expansion revenues or lower churn.

So take the customer's help to map their state implementation goals into business initiatives, and quantify the expected impact. The workshop can measure how you are doing against the goals and how much value has been unlocked so far, thereby showcasing ROI from the spend on your software.

Why do this?

  1. It helps ensure your customer understands the value of your offering.
  2. It is a forcing function for your customer success and onboarding teams to collect pre-implementation and post-implementation data points, so they aren't stuck after go-live not knowing what kind of value was created for the customer.
  3. As you do this more often, you will have evident articulation around value delivered with different kinds of customers and also understand whether you can actually price your offering better.
  4. Your marketing team now has a case study ready for them as part of the process!

So, when should you do the ROI workshop?

It depends on the kind of customer onboarding journey you have:

  1. If you have a simple three to four-week onboarding, add your ROI workshop two or three weeks after your customer onboarding is complete.
  2. If you have a lengthy onboarding that runs into months, you may have 30-day, 60-day, 90-day checkpoints on your ROI delivered, with the first one being a workshop with the customer and the next two just being updates on the data points and ROI figure.

Tip #13: Specialization

When you reach a certain scale level in terms of customers onboarded every month, it makes sense to start thinking of more specialized roles in your onboarding team.

When you grow your team to six members or more, and 30+ customers are being onboarded each month, you may need to add a few more members to your team.

This is to ensure you have enough hands to streamline functioning and set your team up for non-linear scaling from thereon, and to focus on the following:

1. Operations: You can rely on CS Ops to take on customer onboarding ops.

It will involve:

a. Setting up the right metrics and KPIs for the function

b. Analyzing the insights from your tools (such as looking at reports and dashboards to understand bottlenecks, changes needed)

c. Continued investment into configurations and integrations in onboarding tools (like Rocketlane)

2. Training & Enablement: This could be internal and customer-facing training and content resources.

a. You could look at someone from your onboarding team with a penchant for training and customer education to own this.

b. You can have a team member focusing on creating content that allows your team to hit the ground running as new team members join you

c. Create training material for your customers to go on an LMS

d. They would also set up the right content on your project, and document templates

e. Conduct the training for new team members joining you.

f. They can also run customer training.

g. Bring new initiatives for customer education such as the Reverse Demo, or fun quizzes as part of training sessions, hybrid training sessions (video plus live training), and Q&A.

3. Integrations/Migrations: If either integrations or migrations are highly technical and time-consuming, consider moving someone as a specialist focused on these aspects, who also:

a. Will build out some automation in the area

b. Develop playbooks and templates to streamline getting requirements, inputs, and data for the integrations and migration

c. Depending on your specific areas of bottlenecks, you may want to bring in additional specialists internally to the team or engage third-party partners for the same. A good example could be bringing in a partner just for Salesforce integrations or BI tool integrations that you may need for your product. The specialization helps you eliminate the risk of having a very linear relationship between customer growth and team growth. You now have dedicated people working on optimizing and automating the most intensive parts of your onboarding function, thereby allowing the implementation or onboarding specialists to scale by handling more customers.

Tip #14: User selection and engagement

When we spoke to a large organization that had just gone live with Workplace by Facebook, it hit us hard.

We assumed there is no real need for a formal onboarding for a product like Workplace, beyond perhaps setting up IT, importing a list of employees, and configuring the SSO. I knew the initiative could bomb or succeed depending on adoption. But we hadn't thought about what the company could do about adoption, other than maybe sending an email to all employees about rolling out the new portal or a few people from corporate marketing starting to post some content to kick off the conversation.

Boy, were we wrong! There was a sequence of emails going out to everyone about the platform. Still, one initiative that the organization talked about as crucial to the successful rollout of Workplace was the initial "user selection." They recruited people into a program from knowing these folks are the "content creators" (any UGC platform usually has 3% creating, 97% consuming). They are the ones who are vocal and have things to say or discuss work. They post ideas, ask questions, post memes, and share information/articles/updates.

So by giving the right folks early access, making them "insiders" in the rollout, the team had ensured that when others come in to check out the platform, there's enough content to consume and engage (likes, comments, etc.). It turned out to have significant adoption and success as their company-wide communication medium.

While that's one example, every product that needs adoption with a team or function can think harder about their user selection for the initial rollout. Here are a few steps you can follow to select and engage the initial users:

  1. Ask the customer to pick team members who come with a curiosity for trying out new things/tech and a growth mentality - so they aren't complaining about change but are excited about the possibilities
  2. Coach the selected team members on the importance of the rollout and benefits expected for them and the organization - today and in the long run (show them the picture of the future too)
  3. Focus on the simple benefits and ensure they get to realize those quickly
  4. Allow them to express how they will project the positives of the change to the rest of their team - take their help in evangelism and change management.
  5. Make content/flyers/emails/slack announcement messages for driving adoption in consultation with these team members (you craft the content along with your customers to ensure no stone is left unturned in terms of the effort)
  6. Make them champions in the rollout, and maybe even have them take goals/KPIs on the adoption.

Tip #15: The license to chase

One of the top reasons for the delay in customer onboarding projects is the dilemma in your mind when the customer is delaying a task on their side.

"This was due today. Should I follow up already? Or do I give it one more day? I've asked once already, should I chase the customer about this again? Would it be awkward to copy their boss? Will it feel like an unnecessary escalation?"

These are the questions in the mind of every Onboarding Specialist or CS rep in charge of onboarding when you go through this situation. Unfortunately, it is quite common, and inaction only leads to more delays. At the same time, an escalation can strain relationships with key POCs from the customer side.

What's the solution?

Establish the rules of engagement at the kickoff meeting so that no one can feel bad about this later. Ask the key execs from the customer side the question: "What should I do if your team is overdue on a task? Would you want us to be relentless about meeting the timelines?"

They likely want things to get done on time and give you the "license to chase" their team on tasks.

We'd also recommend setting expectations on your weekly status updates with the whole team. Tell them that you will be publishing the project's status with updates on all tasks (including what got done, what's overdue from the current week, and what's due the following week every week).

This way, again, there are no hard feelings about this update going out, and you don't need to feel that you are throwing a colleague or a contact from the customer side under the bus. The rules were laid out and are merely being followed.

More resources

  1. Implementation Stories
  2. Preflight Conversations
  3. The Launch Station - a podcast for all things customer onboarding
  4. Customer onboarding resources from Rocketlane

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Srikrishnan Ganesan
Co-founder, Rocketlane

Love technology and start-ups. Your friendly neighbourhood CX and onboarding enthusiast. Follow me on Twitter @srikrishnang

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