Launching a new customer project can be an exhilarating yet overwhelming experience.
It is like embarking on a thrilling, twist-filled rollercoaster ride, except you don't have a clear map or a set of instructions to guide you through the chaos. The fear of potential pitfalls is intimidating, but with some help from industry leaders, it's possible to ace customer onboarding and implementation.
These experts have experienced the excitement and challenges of navigating the complexities of the customer onboarding and implementation processes. Having spent years honing their strategies, learning from mistakes, and refining their approaches, they can provide you with tried and tested strategies. These insights will help set a clear and effective roadmap for all your customer projects, offer practical solutions to potential problems, and give you a comprehensive understanding of what lies ahead. The result: a smoother, more efficient, and successful customer onboarding and implementation journey.
Here's our curated selection of top 10 implementation tips from industry leaders meticulously crafted to set your teams and customer projects on a path to triumph from the get-go.
A successful customer onboarding strategy entails having dedicated teams, an agile approach to integrations, seamless handoffs, comprehensive documentation, and a focus on essential metrics.
Anya Palisch, Head of Implementation and CS at Pave also shares four tips for seamless SMB customer onboarding and implementation. Read more here.
In designing customer onboarding journeys, it's essential to be flexible and adapt to the customer's experience with the product. A one-size-fits-all approach may not work for customers who have already used the product or come from a proof-of-concept (POC) stage. It's crucial to perform a technical audit regardless of the customer's familiarity with the product to prevent potential integration issues. Additionally, onboarding journeys should be customized based on the customer's maturity level and specific needs, and open communication and acknowledgment of product limitations are vital during the sales process. Tools that facilitate collaboration and demonstrate commitment are preferred for customer accountability. Finally, tracking factors like the number of open implementations and support tickets can help gauge project complexity and customer sentiment.
Take this free quiz to discover potential areas for improvement in your customer onboarding methodology.
Using project management principles in customer onboarding can bridge the gap in expectations between the customer and the service provider, ensuring a smoother experience for customers. This approach to customer onboarding offers a versatile framework applicable across various industries. Key components include:
The crux of quality customer education lies in focusing on delivering value to customers by emphasizing the ‘why’ and ‘what to do to be successful,’ and not just product features and navigation. Training has a huge role to play in this. When customers understand why they need to use a specific feature or take a particular action, they are more likely to see the real value in it.
For example, when training on a reporting feature, rather than just explaining how to build a report, the focus should be on what customers need to achieve. In this case, reporting could be required on how many deals they've evaluated. This approach transforms training into a conversation, where open-ended questions are encouraged, making the learning experience more engaging and relatable. You should also ask customers about real-life scenarios of how they intend to use the platform and encourage them to share their screens during training sessions. This interactivity helps solidify the understanding of the ‘why’ and makes the training more effective.
Introducing the Customer Success Manager (CSM) early in the sales process is crucial for a successful customer onboarding journey. The CSM plays a critical role in bridging the gap between the sales team's promises and the actual delivery of value during implementation.
By having the CSM involved from the presale stage, customers can connect their goals to the right use cases, and the CSM can assure them of the verifiable value of recommended use cases. This approach prevents a ‘value vacuum’ from forming and ensures customers receive the quantifiable value they were promised. Introducing the CSM early also helps in managing expectations, promoting transparency, and avoiding potential conflicts down the line. The CSM should remain a trusted advisor, separate from the project delivery team, to maintain a focus on value and drive successful customer onboarding.
When working on customer onboarding and engagement in a multi-geography environment, with diverse cultures, it is essential to be culturally aware. Teams are to understand how people from different cultures perceive hierarchy, risk, communication, and feedback. Project managers should prioritize supporting and trusting their teams, resolving obstacles, and embracing change in such instances. They need to focus on prioritization, detailed planning, and confident execution. When handling escalations, it is important to involve the right stakeholders based on the severity of the issue. Communication should be transparent and proactive all through the process, taking into account cultural nuances when delivering unfavorable news.
Download this free project communication plan to help identify how important information can be communicated to stakeholders.
When dealing with high-stress, high-impact customer onboarding, it is important to streamline the implementation process. To achieve this, you can start by redefining your onboarding approach. A few strategies you could try to achieve this include:
To know more about the nuanced definition of customer onboarding and customer implementations, head here.
For the full conversation with Meg Lovell of Everbridge, head here.
Effective change management plays a pivotal role in overcoming user resistance and ensuring successful product adoption during customer onboarding. Users often resist change, particularly in cases of industry-disrupting or high-touch products that significantly impact their daily routines. Implementing well-planned change management initiatives can help address this issue.
Change management should be expected, embraced, and co-owned with customers. The goal is to get users excited about the product. This process should start alongside technical onboarding, with cross-section collaboration between customer stakeholders, the development of a communication plan tailored to detractors, a recognition plan, a timeline of activities, and ongoing success tracking. Key practices include:
Using a Product Engagement Score can help your Customer Success team analyze user engagement and identify opportunities to enhance product adoption. This approach can enable them to create targeted messaging and improve user understanding of product features, resulting in more effective onboarding and reduced time-to-value (TTV).
Additionally, when you pick tools for the team, understand the specific needs of team members and classify requirements as 'must-have,' 'nice-to-have,' or 'can compromise'. It's essential to track team members' work, identify tasks that can be automated or streamlined, and find tools or hires to support those activities. Remember to also embrace a 'hire slow, fire fast' approach to tools that allow for flexibility and optimization in the customer onboarding process.
Here are five easy ways to improve your customer onboarding process.
Successful digitization of the customer journey involves identifying a clear ‘North Star’ metric to measure value, customer health, and onboarding effectiveness. Consider transitioning from a high-touch to a tech-touch model. Also, harness the power of data. Use it to understand customer behavior, drive data-based decisions, and proactively identify areas where interventions are needed. Conduct regular digital check-ins to gather user feedback and offer tailored best practices.
When digitizing your customer journey, evaluate resource allocation, automate repetitive processes, and align with core metrics, promoting user adoption. Ask the right questions to evaluate and implement an effective digitization strategy. Key questions to consider include:
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