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Importance of a successful customer onboarding in a SaaS business

16 December, 2022 4 min read
Importance of a successful customer onboarding in a SaaS business

For any SaaS product, it is key that the onboarding experience after the sale is closed, is dealt with utmost care. It is the first touch point, if not already given a trial period, the client will have with your product/tool. Customer Success (CS) platforms enable this journey to then be seamless. Let’s read on to understand how we can build a simple yet impactful onboarding experience for customers to not get overwhelmed with technology – you can’t do away with this, and that’s a given!

What is Customer Onboarding?

From the time a sale is closed and internally handed over (from the Sales to CS teams) to when the customer has access to your platform and starts the adoption process would be a simple way to define the onboarding process.

Why is customer onboarding important in a customer journey?

Goes without saying, the customer will be lost if there is no handholding that’s done for them to use a platform effectively and efficiently. It’s like laying the foundation for the building i.e., the adoption, retention, and delight of your customers!

Benefits of a successful SaaS customer onboarding

  1. It is the start of building trust with your customer:
    A good onboarding experience ensures that your customer feels ready to adopt your software. By the end of it, they are your advocates and not worried about getting started.
  2. It is the time when your product speaks for itself:
    With a timely and precise training module to cover all bases of your SaaS product, the induction to the hows and whys is when your tool can speak for itself. And hence it is also key to ensure that the product is ever-evolving and is guided and self-intuitive. In my previous blog, I covered the importance of how collaboration between the Product and CS teams helps ease this process in the long run.
  3. It is the time you get to know your customers and their long-term objectives:
    A good onboarding experience includes a kick-off call that includes:
    A. A handover from Sales to CS teams (internally and externally)
    B. Introducing the teams i.e. your CS team, any product/operations team member that might be involved, and POCs from the customer’s end who you will be interacting with on a regular basis.

This is a good time to connect to see if both parties are on the same page – clarify broad-level objectives if required. Understand their long-term goals and include the same in your training modules going forward, the customer will feel heard and comforted – that you got their back!

CS most often than not is not the technical resolution or support that is given, it is the ongoing assurance a customer receives, post which they feel confident about themselves using the tool. The onboarding experience then evolves to become an enabling experience.

Key steps to ensure a desirable customer onboarding experience

A. Kick-off call:

As mentioned above, this is the step where you first get all teams involved in interacting with each other.

You can structure these calls broadly as follows:
1. Sales handover: to the CS team

2. Team introductions: CS team introduces CSM who will be working on the account and any key stakeholders from the CS team if present. Along with any product/operations team member who would be working closely in enabling the customer to get on board.

3. Align on deliverables: with the Sales team present it is good to clarify what the customer has signed up for, the cause for most back and forth is usually this gap, which can be avoided with straightforward communication about what is included as part of this customer’s onboarding.

4. Setup time for onboarding sessions

5. Conclude the kick-off call followed by minutes and a key deliverable that you will be working on in the next 30-45-60 days! Helps you get directions and helps the customer.

B. Onboarding/Training Sessions:

This is where your customer is familiarized with the product and how this is going to help make their work day easier. You could structure your training/demo sessions as follows:

1. Include the key members from the customer’s side who are going to use the product daily.
2. Ensure that the CS team member who is giving the demo is 100% product ready
3. A detailed walkthrough of the product along with a Q&A session if required
4. Set up working sessions where you can empower your customers and convert them into your advocates gradually. Working sessions in essence help in instilling confidence in customers that – they got this.

C. Weekly cadence calls

Help with checking in on your customer and you could use this opportunity to share product updates, gather feature requests, and outline the progress and next steps as required.

D. Monthly check-ins

The end goal of any CSM is to ensure the health of each account is good and this happens when onboarding is not considered a one-time but more of an ongoing process.

Monthly check-ins with primary users and executive decision-makers:
1. Help gather feedback for the product

2. This platform can be used to share the product roadmap and what lies ahead to keep your customers informed. Being transparent and direct always helps

E. EBR’s – Executive Business Reviews

  1. Usually conducted when the mutually decided succession plan comes to a close. An example of a good plan to set out, in the beginning, could look something like this:

2. EBRs help the customer understand key metrics like adoption rate, utilization data, if low what steps need to be taken, feature request updates, and so on. This helps both entities involved to know where they stand when it comes to product adoption, which truly is the essence of a good CS experience.

How can it help in customer success?

In essence, you can never really stop onboarding a customer! Yes, you read that right.

As we stay in contact with our customers through their entire lifecycle, we understand that this is an ever-evolving journey that might include SPOCs changing, new feature launching, and continuous monitoring, which calls for a reliable CS tool that captures all this information in a manner that helps make this on-going journey a smooth ride – internally and externally.


Author profile image
Anupama Sahore

Anupama is an experienced Sales, Community, and CS specialist with 8+ years of experience across industries like SaaS, Fintech, and more. She works as a Senior CSM at a leading CLM software company.

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