Customer Success begins before your customers fully adopt your product. From the moment the contract is signed, you have to be strategic in each of your customer touch points. The customer is excited begin using your software, but this excitement can quickly turn to buyers remorse if their expectations aren’t met.
Onboarding is difficult, all customers are drastically different and have unique needs. Success can mean something different for each customer depending on their business, use case or team make-up. However, a successful onboarding experience should take into account these differences providing a unique blend of prescriptive, best practices, and individual business needs.
Our 3 values are present throughout our approach to onboarding that builds on the success of our customers. These values are:
Success for All
The Golden Rule
Gainsight lives and breathes Customer Success and we’ve built this approach into our onboarding strategies in the following ways:
1. Smooth handoff from Sales to Services – Knowledge Transfer
The Golden Rule – we understand that when implementing a new software…there is a lot of discovery. When we share our business needs we hope this knowledge carries on throughout the lifetime with that customer. We know our customers want the same and we try to align our customer's objectives with our own.
A. Consistent Messaging
From the sales team to the onboarding team, we provide a consistent message on how their onboarding experience will be. The customers know up front how our process works and what the expectations are from both parties. We keep the messaging simple and consistent through a presentation during the sales cycle and then the kickoff for their onboarding.
B. Knowledge Transfer
Once an account is sold our team does a great internal handoff to explain the deep dives that were done into what Success looks like for customers during the sales process. It’s very important that this information is transferred to ensure the customer doesn’t feel they are repeating themselves.
2. Success for All – Best Practice Strategy Sessions
As a general rule of thumb, the earlier you can obtain customer adoption, the better. Early adopters are more likely to use your product and become truly great customers throughout their lifetime. The earlier you can begin troubleshooting possible onboarding risks with your customers, the sooner they can begin using your product successfully
A solid strategy is the biggest factor in a successful onboarding program. Gainsight built it's strategy session with Adoption Champions, Executive Sponsors and Gainsight Administrators as the foundation of the onboarding team both inside and outside the customer's team. In order to launch successfully, it is important to make sure that all members of the onboarding process (on both sides) are aligned with every step of the process.
The easiest way to do this is to begin the onboarding process with a clear and thorough onboarding plan before the process begins. This allows for all parties to understand how the process will work and give attention to any possible misalignment in the values or initiatives of both sides.
3. We developed an in-person training session – Success Express
Through our numerous onboardings with customers (both good and bad) we have identified the commonalities in our onboarding process and developed a prescriptive approach to onboarding – 11 Steps that all customers no matter the size and complexity will need to implement to be successful in Gainsight.
Electronic communication is powerful, it allows the instant answering of questions, concerns and suggestions without restriction. But there is little substitute for face-to-face interactions. It personalizes any process and helps build relationships rather than blind functions. At Gainsight we make sure that customers meet the entire Gainsight onboarding team at every level We connect with executives to ensure high-level alignment of objectives and goals. We make sure that the project managers have a reliable and personal point of contact so they can always stay updated and mitigate risk. We also make sure that our customers begin their relationships with our customer success managers as soon as possible.
Another situation we try to cultivate is peer-onboarding. We encourage our customers to interact with each other in order to solve problems and find creative solutions to each others situations. This cultivates peer to peer knowledge transfer and lets customers see how others are using the product.
We also built fun surprises into this approach ranging from contests on who can track the most sponsors, to happy hours, and goody bags for everyone to take home. One of Gainsight's core values is "Child-like Joy" and we make sure that this comes across during our onboarding process. We make the process as fun and interactive as possible in order to truly get our customers thriving and loving the product. Every company should add their own quirk and initiatives to their onboarding process, instilling "Child-like Joy" is our unique approach.
4. Right Mix of High-Touch / Low-Touch
Knowing your customers well is the most indicative point of an onboarding process that isn't just good but is great. Using feedback from your customer interactions, understanding their objectives and how to make sure you make your customers successful. Below are three different approaches for creating and disseminating onboarding materials to your customers.
A. Self-Guided – Material available for customers to walk through the process on their own and implement
B. Prescriptive – We built the material based on our own best practices and how we view CS operating
C. 1:Many Webinar sessions followed by 1:1 time with their project manager
These three approaches allowed us to share more information with more customers but still provide a personalized approach to each onboarding process.