The most important thing that I have at my disposal as a Deployment Consultant is trust.
In 2016, we designed and delivered onboarding for our partners in more than 20 countries around the globe.
When WNDYR was born, we dreamt of helping people to become more productive in the workplace. Our partner’s clients have ambitious goals and that is what inspired them to purchase the solution.
Here are three key lessons we learnt about onboarding this year:
1. The customer success journey starts before the sale
It is a common mistake to think that onboarding is the first effort in the customer success journey, but this could not be further from the truth. The customer success journey starts when the client is still researching your solution, way before your sales team have had a chance to impress them.
That is why being able to tell your product story to your prospects on your website, social media, and marketing material is so important.
Another element of the “pre-sale” stage of the customer success journey is the trial period. During the trial period, a prospect is looking to tick two boxes:
- Is this software the solution for my business problem?
- Is the cost for this tool a worthy investment?
At this stage, a client is interested in the small victories and successful onboarding is what will lead them to it: a combination of interface help, communication with the sales team, automated messages, and knowing where to ask for help at any point.
This makes for a higher acquisition cost, but it decreases churn further down the line. Finding the balance on how much to spend on a prospect is a tricky exercise. Although conversion rates will be the quickest metric you can gather, net retention will be the important factor when looking at the cost of the overall journey.
2. One-fits-all onboarding will lead your clients to failure
Understanding the key use cases of your product is the first step to designing a flexible onboarding programme. Some solutions are extremely flexible and have endless functionality. Project Management software is a great example, some companies purchase it to improve workflows, reports, and visibility, others because they want to enable their remote workers and better manage increased workload.
Sales teams will touch on the high-level of your client’s objectives to determine if the product is a fit. But kicking off the onboarding process by collaboratively creating a set of goals for the implementation will enable the implementation consultants to tailor the process to help the client achieve their specific objectives.
If your client says that they are going to onboard 100 new users by the end of the year, the onboarding team must keep in mind that the workflows must be scalable and that champions must be equipped with skills to onboard a whole new team to the platform. But if your client is a 10 user creative agency looking to become more efficient, the consultant will spend more time teaching the team how to optimise processes and implement best practice.
Identifying those clusters in your prospect base and creating journeys that will lead them to success is critical. We have helped Wrike, a solution in the project management space, design a fourth virtual onboarding programme focused on SMB success, by understanding what success looked like for them, the best format to onboard those users and the time and resources they were willing to commit to during the first 30 days of the implementation. The result was an increased attach rate.
3- When your software changes, your onboarding must change too
The software development environment is very agile and changes continuously so it is important to keep your onboarding journey relevant.
Sometimes changes in the software are small and your current process still performs very well. In that case, including the new features to the current talk track and any marketing material shared with clients is enough. But a large number of incremental changes can affect the success of the process. And if this is the case, it is time to re-design.
This might sound like re-inventing the wheel, but turning the model on its head, using the learnings of your previous journeys, combined with the new information and features can lead you to move the performance line by a mile, to where you didn’t even know it could get it.
When your current journey is not performing, the fear of failure is high, and companies tend to use a continuous improvement approach, tweaking one small area of the process at a time. However, the reality is that a full redesign will bring you to high-performance much quicker. Intercom has an entire chapter of their onboarding book dedicated to the question “When to optimise and when to redesign”.
The same logic of redesign or optimisation applies to changing your client base. If you are targeting a new segment, it is critical to think about how those users will interact with the tool, what their needs are and what the best way is to get their attention.
We have helped our partners redesign and optimise their onboarding journey, but this is only possible when there is a collaboration between the product team and the customer success team. Knowing what features will be released in advance enables the success team to analyse the impact it will have on the onboarding journey and minimise the time to value for clients.
The best way to create a successful onboarding journey is to reverse-engineer your client’s goals and find the best pathway to get there.
You don’t have to incur all the costs for this journey. In the B2B environment, clients expect to be charged for premium implementation and onboarding that falls outside the customer support umbrella. Many clients will not have had experience in implementing software and driving adoption and will welcome all the help they can get if it’s priced correctly.
Companies that cut corners on onboarding will ultimately fail to prove their value proposition to thier users, driving them to frustration and eventually, to the competition.
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