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Steps to an effective Customer Onboarding Experience

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

Posted by Sumit Kumar Uzir, Certified CSM

Have you ever come across a time, when your customers had complained about your product not meeting its objectives or somehow have the feeling that they weren’t getting the support as promised during the sale?

Frankly, I have, and on many occasions. This is what made us think and question ourselves what are we doing wrong? We ran many NPS surveys along with internal metric analysis and all the dots pointed towards gaps in the customer onboarding phases. Trust me when I tell you this, it’s like a moment of truth for the customers, they want to see what they paid for and a slight mismatch in the communication between your Sales and Onboarding team could ruin the entire onboarding experience.

So, what is Customer Onboarding?

As a Customer Success Professional, I would define Customer Onboarding as a phase where you would help customers with their transition to your platform and also make them achieve success for the very first time with your offering.

Below is a 5 step Onboarding Program that has worked for me so far:

1. Internal Meeting with Sales

This is one of the most important steps for successful onboarding. Let me share with you - Why? You might have observed as well that in a customer’s journey, they usually engage with various channels of communication like brochures, marketing bots, ads, emails or posts etc. Then the sales and pre-sales team comes into the picture and at last, the onboarding and the customer success teams take it over from there.

What I have experienced so many times is that messages and communications get lost whenever there’s a change in ownership of accounts. For this very reason, in my past organizations, we made a habit of talking to the sales and account management teams before we onboard any customer.

These calls don’t necessarily be any longer than 15-20 mins but it is important to understand at least below:

  • Understand the sales team’s perspective on the client’s business problems?

  • How are they currently solving the business problem?

  • Promises made by the sales team about the product and services

  • Features that helped the sale?

  • Current Products and gaps?

  • Customer Champions, if any?

2. Introductory Calls with the Customer

This is the second step after an initial call with the Sales Team. In this meeting(s) we used to cover some of the key aspects to make a transparent and engaging onboarding experience for our customers:

  • Expectation Setting with Customers

  • Identifying and defining Success according to the customers

  • Mutually agreed on onboarding timelines and success milestones

  • Point of Contacts from both the sides

  • Define Success Metrics to be followed

It is also a good practice to document and share it with the client post the meeting(s).

3. Account Set-up, Training and Go-lives

This is the step where we would be helping the client with their transition into our platform, enable admin testing and finally go-live followed by the user training. This could all vary depending upon the complexity of the product, the industry you operate, customizations etc.

4. Change Management

Overseeing Change Management is another very important step in the onboarding phase. It plays a major role in the adoption of the solution in the later CSM phase. I have experienced that Communication is the key to a successful Change Management Process. It is very important to communicate the expected benefits to the users and also how their roles will be benefited in the new process. I have found it to be extremely important to work closely with the users in this phase, celebrated small wins, identified bottlenecks, re-trained when required and also made personalized training materials depending on the products we were working with.

5. Feedback:

This necessarily might not be the last step in the onboarding cycle but an important one. You could run NPS surveys to collect feedback from your clients and users. You could also use In-app survey tools or any other survey tool, whichever works best for you.

It might be highly possible the shared steps might not exactly work for your product and service but it is a good practice that you have a playbook to follow for the customer onboarding programs for effective Customer Success Management.

Download the freebie: Checklist for a 5 Step Onboarding Program

Customer Onboarding Checklist
Download XLSX • 48KB

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