Let’s continue where we left off last week – Here’s a quick recap:
Last week, we covered the essentials of onboarding, including how to empower and enable your customers to optimize their onboarding experience. Let’s take a deeper dive into other factors involved in the overall process.
Spend time onboarding
Onboarding is the beginning of growth or churn. Every product and service is different, and there is no cookie-cutter solution to onboarding. Customer onboarding is the single most important way for customers to be set up for success when using your product (and even when engaging in a service). A multiphase approach to an onboarding program that pairs the customer with a dedicated professional in a high-touch model, and comprehensive customer learning program across all customers, including self-service, helps ensure success.
At the end of the onboarding program, consider a wrap-up with the client to go over what’s been implemented, and the ROI they’ve been able to see since the program started. This can be especially helpful for those who aren’t hands-on with the project, like the C-Suite, who need to get a snapshot of progress and ensure they understand where the project started, where it is at the end of onboarding and where the partnership is headed. We call this the “executive review.” What opportunities exist at your company to create an onboarding process? For low-touch customers, you can still gain feedback from them by adding in-application surveys or an email survey once the identified criteria has been met or if too many days have passed in your customer’s journey without those milestones being accomplished. If there is a lag in usage, you definitely know something is wrong so it is important to reach out to all customers – active or not, because the inactive ones are obviously most likely to churn, yet companies ignore them until it is too late.
Create a certification program
Let’s be honest, most SaaS products out there have complicated workflows and processes – requiring training and enablement. What better way to ensure your customers understand the inner workings of your product than a certification program? This type of approach can apply to service-type businesses too, where clients can be certified in a skill or area of knowledge. Certification has benefits beyond your business, with advantages extending to both the people being certified and the community they serve. Some of the benefits of a certification program include:
- Rise above the rest
Certification is a tool that professionals can include in their list of skills and to ensure you get the most out of a platform. People are motivated by having a certification next to their name, on their LinkedIn profile, and as a way to ensure they can be trusted in understanding how to leverage a platform for maximum impact for your business.
- Certification can be within a platform outside your own but with all the in-application platforms out there, I encourage you to assess those as well given customers learn best while performing an action repeatedly. In-app guides should also always be available for customers, given how quickly we forget what we learn!
- Certified collaboration: Give customers access to a community of like-minded, certified professionals to share ideas with and solve challenges. Which leads to the next point.
The benefits of a business community:
- Businesses can seek out certified professionals with specialized skill sets within the community.
- Customers can have more thoughtful, meaningful experiences using the product or service by using the same nomenclature and learning from each other about how they are creatively using the platform. This increases mind-sharing of how to best leverage a product or service by the people who use the product most – your customers!
- Your company will learn from these dialogues as well. The voice-of-customer is a great way to understand what customers are doing with your product, who your biggest ambassadors are, and where there is room for improvement. Companies who shy away from communities because they don’t want to have negative comments posted are missing out on huge opportunities to learn. Listen to your customers if you really want to take your product to the next level.
Putting together a comprehensive learning program takes planning and time, but there may be small steps you can take right away to help onboard new clients and get them learning fast. Think about the touchpoints that occur when a new customer comes on – how can those be improved? What documentation or conversations can you have that will have an immediate impact on getting your customer up to speed?
Lastly, make sure there’s a feedback loop incorporated throughout the entire process.
Have customers demonstrated what they’ve learned? Ask for feedback often – not just at the end of an onboarding experience or yearly with an NPS survey. Communities will not only help you tailor your onboarding program(s) on the fly, but also help ensure that when that final survey goes out, your team will get a 10/10 every time.
NPS and measuring onboarding metrics are big topics that deserve their own blogs as they are just as important as laying down the foundations of making your product stick. Part III of this blog series perhaps?
The time you invest in creating a meaningful onboarding program will pay off in the long-term. Customers will get more from your product early, during the ‘honeymoon phase’, and engage with your services more often, making it a part of their daily workflow.
The Result? Renewals, positive reviews, referrals, expansion opportunities and references will be a “no-brainer.” As we inch closer to a new school year, consider how you’ll educate your customers in the coming year. And the best part for them? No new wardrobe or dorm supplies required!
Emilia has been named one of the top 2018, 2017 & 2016 CS influencers & strategists by Mindtouch and received a 2016 Stevies Award for Customer Service. She is a customer success consultant with over 20 years of experience in both working with and designing world-class customer-facing groups. Emilia is passionate about helping companies grow and focuses on developing people, building processes, and scaling systems.