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Build trust with customers during the onboarding phase

The Preflight Community launched the local chapter of Utah in Lehi on the 11th of April with The Preflight Huddle!
April 13, 2023
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Mukundh Krishna

The Preflight Community launched the local chapter of Utah in Lehi on the 11th of April with our event - The Preflight Huddle! 

Preflight Huddles are designed to offer a platform for leaders and practitioners in customer onboarding, implementations, PS, CS, and other post-sales domains to exchange notes, learn from each other, and build a reliable network.

Preflight has organized Huddles in SF, NYC, Boston, London, Bangalore, and Lehi! We’re an invite-only community of 2500+ leaders and practitioners from CS, onboarding, and implementation spaces. We are a safe space for post-sales professionals to feel supported and find valuable insights and answers to all kinds of questions! 

We were delighted to see the enthusiasm that the people of Utah showed in coming together and joining us to further the cause of building this global community. Leading the discussion were our panelists: 

Amber (Oler) Wilson

Advisor and Consultant, Focus On CX Consulting

Amber is a people, data, and results-driven Customer Success leader. She was formerly VP of CS at eFileCabinet and spent 3 years at Podium, helping them grow from 10M to 100M. She has a proven track record of implementing scalable programs, increasing efficiency, and reducing churn for Series A to D organizations with ARR ranging from 3M to 100M.

Derek Morgan

Co-founder and Chief Experience Officer at Ovation

Derek is a builder, maker, and creator. He currently oversees Ovation’s customer success, onboarding, and product teams. He is driven by entrepreneurship, and his life’s mission is to make the world a better place to live in.

Chad B Rawlings

Founder - ClientON Community, Onboarding & Success Coach, AA-ISP UTAH Chapter President

Chad is a post-sales domain expert and a coach. He was formerly the CRO at Adrich. He has successfully built GTM motions and sales pipelines of enterprise customers at his previous gigs in SaaS.

In the current state of the economy, it is difficult to gain, maintain, and restore trust. We talked about how businesses can foster trust in their customers. We also acknowledged that long-term trust-building should begin with onboarding. Here are our top five takeaways from the discussion:

1. Micro-moments of trust

When onboarding customers, ensure the experience is tailored to their individual needs and that you're setting realistic expectations. In the first demo to the customer’s team (the users) demonstrate the value of your product with demos tailored to their systems and integrations. Demonstrating how your product can provide value to a customer from the get-go is a step in the right direction towards lots of micro-moments of trust. If you're trying to get customers to understand a complicated product, a prescriptive approach can be helpful - giving them info about how, when, and where to do the things that will use your product to the best of its capabilities while celebrating their little victories as they go.

2. Your leverage during customer onboarding in a startup vs. a large corporation

a. Advantages for startups during customer onboarding: When you're a small startup, customers don't have any set expectations or don't come with preconceived expectations – it's an open slate! This means you can create a custom onboarding process that really caters to individual needs. Plus, you’re better equipped to be flexible and fast to adapt to your customer's needs. At any cost, make sure that the first interaction with your customers is a positive one!

b. Advantages for large corporations during customer onboarding: 

- More resources, including financial, technical, and human resources, which they can invest in developing and implementing robust customer onboarding processes.

- Established processes, automated systems for account creation, standardized onboarding procedures, and well-trained customer service teams.

- Well-established brand recognition and credibility help build trust with new customers during the onboarding process

- Access to vast customer data and analytics is used to optimize the onboarding processes. Tracking customer behavior and engagement, identifying areas where onboarding can improve, and adjusting their processes accordingly.

3. Tips for CSMs to be proactive during the customer onboarding phase

a. Validate all the assumptions you’re making with the customer right from the onboarding phase: It pays to validate customer assumptions from the very beginning of their onboarding experience. By validating assumptions with customers, you show them you are committed to understanding their needs and priorities. Doing this allows your onboarding and implementation teams to maximize their resources and focus on the right things.

b. The ball is always in your court: The question on every CSM’s mind is how to keep the customer engaged and motivated to complete their tasks. So, accepting the one truth that the ball is always in our court will help CSMs think of innovative ways to realize value for their customers. 

c. CSMs are the in-house management consultants: Get really comfortable digging into the ‘why’ of everything you have planned for the customers. For a CSM going back to the discovery calls will help them get to the answers faster. Data should support all of your onboarding and CS workflows. Conducting regular audits to discover the metrics that move the needle, and drive value for your customers will help you understand the kinds of reporting that will help your customers see the value in your product. 

d. Tremendous empathy: Understanding what your customers want, even when it might not come in written or spoken words, is a CSM’s superpower. Don’t fall prey to fulfilling all the requests that come in! Have multiple checks and filters to ensure that the problem is validated.

4. When the sales team over-promises: 

a. Offer solutions: Whether it is to help mitigate the impact of the delays, or to explain why you prioritized features other than the ones they requested, by providing temporary workarounds, offering additional training or support, or going to the extent of adjusting the billing terms in the contract as a last resort.

b. Always keep your customer in the loop – let them know if there are any changes in the timeline for go-lives, feature requests, custom requests, etc. Make sure to check in regularly and proactively address any worries or questions, especially if their plans depend on you.

c. Get on the same page with your sales team about how key performance indicators are affected when there's a lack of trust due to making too many promises.

d. During onboarding, prioritize the customer's success and objectives. Ensure they have your support to hit their first value and eventually all other levels of realizing value. 

5. Why is it essential to create trust early in the journey, and what onboarding and post-sales leaders can do to have the whole team believe it

a. Science tells us that people form an opinion about a potential relationship in their first encounter, which is hard to change. So, making an excellent first impression is vital for any future mistakes to be forgiven. If that initial meeting is successful, people are more inclined to allow you opportunities to make up for mistakes. Conversely, a bad first impression makes it tough to reacquire trust and may lead people to believe you're not reliable. That's why hiring individuals who understand the value of adequately preparing for and making a positive first impression is vital to establish trust with your customers.

b. Empower your employees to make decisions confidently and tell them that customer satisfaction is entirely in their hands. When they understand this, they will take ownership of their work and strive for success. This isn't just about strategy; it's all about creating a culture where everyone works together to achieve common goals. Give your team every opportunity to implement it! 

Do you have ideas, suggestions, and questions on creating trust with your customers from the get-go for the larger customer onboarding, implementation, and CS community? We’d love to have you join the Preflight Community and share it with our members!

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Usha Kalva
Community & Partnerships @ Rocketlane

Usha is a Community Manager at Preflight. She's been an EIR, runs a successful restaurant, and is inclined toward the social sciences. In a parallel universe, she'd have been a wildlife photographer.

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