There is a saying: “you only have one opportunity to make a first impression.” The same is true for your relationship with your customers.
Of all of the moments of truth along your customer journey, the onboarding process might be the most impactful on customers’ long-term success. Customers that have an excellent onboarding experience are more likely to expand, renew, and ultimately, become advocates for your brand.
Developing an onboarding playbook will pay dividends far beyond your initial investment. A clear understanding of roles and responsibilities across departments will prevent any items from falling through the cracks. Scott Hudgins, VP of Global Customer Managed Relationships at the Walt Disney Company famously said, “Nobody owns the customer, but someone always owns the moment.” Documenting the steps for a successful deployment will empower your team members to own the moment and thrill your customers. Here are some key tips to help you get started.
Sales to Services Transition Process
A Salesforce survey of 15,600 respondents found that, “76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. However, 54% say it generally feels like sales, service, and marketing don’t share information.”
A flaw that plagues too many SaaS organizations is a poor or nonexistent handoff from Sales to Services, resulting in frustrated customers having to repeat the same information over and over. All parties involved with the project must understand who the customer is and what business outcomes they are seeking to achieve by leveraging your product. There must be a clear handoff of information behind the scenes so that the transition from signature to implementation is seamless from the customer’s perspective.
Identify Champions and Build Relationships
From the start, you should be looking to identify champions. These people are ideally well respected internally and can be your most valuable partners when it comes time to make big decisions. As you build trust and rapport with your champions, they will share insider knowledge with you and will be the first to alert you if things start to go sideways. Your champions will also be invaluable in helping to move along transactional pieces like upsells and expansions. Always be on the lookout for an opportunity to build a champion.
This is also a fantastic time to begin multithreading your relationships at the customer’s organization. Developing at least three or more relationships will prevent you from having to scramble if a contact leaves the project or the company. Make sure you have the right group in place for the launch and build rapport with team members across departments and different seniority levels. Relying on a single customer relationship is risky, so avoid this all too common pitfall by broadening your relationship-building efforts.
Focus on Time-to-First-Value
Time-to-First-Value, or TTFV, is the amount of time it takes for your customer to extract meaningful value from your product. Accelerated value demonstration results in a customer’s likelihood to adopt your product, increase usage, expand licenses, and commit to the contract renewal.
TTFV can be expedited by focusing on the customer’s unique business outcome objectives and aligning the onboarding experience accordingly. Rather than executing a generalized approach, focus on the key value drivers that will solve your customer’s pain points. Small, quick wins can be more impactful than larger wins that take weeks or months to deliver. When you understand your customer’s objectives and deliver value quickly, your customers will thank you.
Make Their Day
An often overlooked piece of the new customer experience is celebration. The customer is excited and emotional after their purchase, so celebrate them immediately and thank them for partnering with you! Welcome them to the family with swag boxes filled with water bottles, shirts, stickers, and coffee mugs.
Other effective approaches to make them feel valued include sending your customers food or drinks. According to corporate gifting platform Sendoso, customers value something they can touch 24% more highly than something they can only see. Social media campaigns that highlight the new partnership are another great way to show the customer you’re glad to be working with them and to keep the momentum from the sales process going.
Continue to celebrate the customer throughout their journey. Be sure to make a big splash at their go-live as well. Complex implementations can be stressful and time-consuming for vendors and customers alike. Recognize the hard work and dedication of all of those involved by rewarding them with launch swag and social media posts. The recognition will go a long way toward improving your customer’s experience.
Focus on celebrating your customer and making them wildly successful as quickly as possible, this will create customer loyalty and strong retention and expansion trends. Develop a deep understanding of your customers’ business objectives and allow these items to guide your onboarding process for them. With all of these pieces in place, you’ll be cheering along with your customers on launch day.