Welcome to Part VIII of the Customer Onboarding Tips series. In part VII, we discussed why you should have an Onboarding Enablement Package, Business Reviews, and more.
In this installment, we’ll learn how peer pressure can work as a tactic to get your customers moving, why cut-over plans are important, and discuss handoff calls.
We hope you’re taking notes!
Onboarding is mostly about getting customers to engage and move at the pace we want them to. This tip will help you get your customers to act faster. It comes straight from an input Katie Clark shared during the Q&A session during her Implementation Stories session.
It's all about using "peer pressure" to move things forward faster. Your customers always want to know if their competitors or other companies are doing something better than them. They want to ensure they derive as much value from you as others, if not more. Aspirationally, they want to be your best implementation!
Maintain a list of customers who started onboarding with you around the same time. You can always tell the folks in the last 25th percentile about the speed at which others from their cohort have progressed, so they feel like they shouldn't be the laggards.
For example, PartnerStack tells customers who haven't finished onboarding on time about how others in their cohort have already graduated (PartnerStack has the merchants coming onboard with them "graduate" from their onboarding) and finding value.
No one wants to be at the bottom of the list and should be motivated to move faster to avoid that shame-inducing distinction. So the comparison and the peer pressure nudge them to move faster.
Do you have other ways of delivering a better onboarding experience or getting customers to value faster? Do share your ideas with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
A common issue during onboarding a new customer is that when you replace a homegrown system or a generic tool (like a spreadsheet), you may still find many team members using their old systems or way of working, even months after you've actually onboarded them. A full transition has still not happened, and the goalpost keeps moving.
Try this out in your next onboarding, and let us know how it goes!
We often talk about how we want to be "partners" and not "vendors" for our customers. And yet, we find situations during onboarding where our customer POC is not moving things along at the right pace, and we have to point fingers or escalate to get work done. Where does that leave us with them? Are we going to have a smooth partnership when the POC starts feeling a lack of partnership with them or when we've thrown them under the bus?
In the ideal world, the onboarding is planned in a way that makes our customer POC successful - helping showcase them as the project's hero. That puts you in a strong place to move the partnership forward faster. Everyone has confidence and trust in each other, which is a win-win outcome.
What else do you do to highlight and make a hero out of your customer POC? Let us know at email@example.com
As a customer success or implementation manager, have you ever been introduced to the customer over an email, gotten the time blocked with them, and struggled to get the right inputs from the sales and SE team till an hour before your first kick-off or intro call with the customer? Or ever struggled to get the hand-off document filled with quality inputs from the sales/SE team to the implementation team?
When this happens, you may miss out on an important detail, go semi-prepared for your first customer call, and have a surprise waiting for you. It never helps to find an important detail or goal you hadn't planned for while on call. Also, it never helps to ask customers questions they've already answered through the sales cycle.
It makes your team look less professional, and you can, of course, imagine a much better start to the relationship with the customer when you go in fully prepared and demonstrate that you are on top of things to help them with their goals. We all know first impressions matter.
One way to create a forcing function for this hand-off to happen well is to create a 15-minute "hand-off call," where you get together with sales and solution engineers and get all the info you need from them. Go synchronous rather than asynchronous since it is critical you get as many details ahead of time and get to prepare for your first call with that customer. Make it part of your process till those documents start getting much better!
Even if you have the notes from the sales calls and the sales team has filled out some details on your hand-off document or form, it helps to do this call just so that you can ask all your level-2 questions to your team first. If they already have answers for them, you avoid asking customers the same questions again! And over time, the team will also start adding those details to the document.
Here's how an internal hand-off call helps:
Note: If your company is highly process-driven and mature, you can add more questions and do all of this asynchronously through a more comprehensive form too. But when you can't make that work well, set up the hand-off call and make that part of your own process.
Ever find out way too late that a customer is running many weeks late on their onboarding, and the customer is losing confidence in your product?
By week 4, the delays have snowballed into a big mess, and the executive sponsor on the customer side now believes you haven't been proactive enough. Sigh.
Run a 30-min weekly onboarding standup meeting with your team. Get team members in CS/Onboarding to come up with the status of every onboarding:
You can run through the projects with delays, blockers, negative sentiment, low engagement, etc., and ask the team to discuss their plan for the week on those accounts.
Creating this forcing function to think about these aspects would help teams stay on top of all these dimensions for every account and would result in them strategizing their key next steps with customers. It also provides an avenue to identify patterns across customers and to brainstorm as a team - about solutions to top problems/scenarios.
This ensures we are bringing down time-to-value across all our customers.
Have feedback or other ideas around improving onboarding? Feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org