How to Excel at Customer Onboarding

Throughout the customer lifecycle, there are many defining moments. However, few would argue that one of the more critical moments of truth is during that all-important implementation phase. This is where customers can experience a lot of pain and frustration because expectations and promises are not met, hindering your ability to recognize revenue quickly.

But not all companies fall short at onboarding new customers. Those that have mastered the implementation experience, thereby helping customers achieve time-to-value, are often showered with praise and a high Net Promoter Score. Here’s a small roundup of the positive feedback we’ve captured on behalf of our clients:

  • The implementation team was very knowledgeable and always well prepared.
  • The implementation was very smooth compared with prior experience dealing with third-party software service providers.
  • They were very flexible to accommodate our short timeline for implementation.
  • There is a swift flow of information between the sales and implementation team. The team members are on top of their product and maximize the needs of their clients.
  • We have set a target implementation date, which was even met earlier than expected thanks to the team’s follow-up and good preparation.

What company wouldn’t want to receive this positive feedback? Unfortunately, comments like this are not always the case, even with the most customer-centric companies.

When Bad Implementations Happen to Good Companies

No company sets out to provide a poor onboarding experience. So why then do companies struggle to get high remarks after the customer onboarding process is completed? Sometimes an overly complicated process gets in the way, slowing down the time to complete onboarding. Or maybe Sales overpromised and now your product doesn’t perform as the customer expected. There could even be hiccups with support and training.

Here’s some tough criticism we’ve uncovered for our clients:

  • The company is great with sales but implementation was more complicated than it needed to be, and post-launch customer service is weak.
  • The process was not as seamless as we were promised. We were given limited training prior to going live. Any time there was an issue we had to open a support case, which I often had to follow up days after opening it to get the issue resolved.

Whatever the frustration is for your customers, it’s important to have visibility into the engagement and a process in place to assess satisfaction during this important stage of the customer lifecycle. Comments like those shared above should be reviewed and acted upon quickly. This is even more important when themes emerge that warrant a review of your implementation processes.

How do you Measure Customer Onboarding Effectiveness?

What is the secret to providing a successful onboarding experience? One recommendation is to invest in an implementation management platform. We think our friends at Baton have a great tool for managing implementation projects and giving all relevant stakeholders line-of-sight visibility into all onboarding activities. In fact, we’re so impressed with their platform, we’ve referred several of our clients to them.

Whether or not you use a software tool, an implementation survey or interview program (either post onboarding or throughout each implementation phase) is a powerful way to understand customer sentiment about this phase of the engagement.

The key ingredient however is to socialize this insight across the organization. If your implementation management platform is constantly alerting you to missed deadlines, talk with your support team. If your survey uncovers misalignment between sales and product, schedule a training session. To avoid letting customers down at this crucial stage, everyone needs to work together to create a consistent experience and an accurate message.

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