Identifying key metrics for onboaring

usha Member Posts: 1 Navigator

How do you identify key metrics for onboarding? How do you manage how these metrics are influenced by other functions like product, support etc.


  • Jeffrey Kushmerek
    Jeffrey Kushmerek Member Posts: 98 Expert
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    I wrote an informational blog on this here. In general, measure what you can control.

    If this doesn't answer your question, I am happy to answer specific questions :)

  • bfarber
    bfarber Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    First Comment Photogenic

    Hi Usha,

    Below are a few key metrics/practices for customer onboarding in the SaaS space. It is important to continuously refine your onboarding practices to assure you are considering feedback from past onboardings and improving as needed.

    1. Time to Value. This is the time which it takes a customer to realize the value they were expecting of your product, and it is crucial in the SaaS space. Typically, the shorter the time frame is to reach value, the more likely you are to retain a customer and avoid churn. Depending on your product, the length of an onboarding can vary, but regardless, the sooner you can provide value, the better. Tracking this metric can be very useful for multiple areas of the organization like Onboarding/Implementation, Product, Sales, and Customer Success of course! For example, if a certain part of the onboarding process could be simplified or accelerated by additional functionality within your application, this feedback can be submitted to your Product team to add to their roadmap. You can compute Time to Value by the number of days from Onboarding Kick-off to Go-Live, or whatever makes sense for your organization.
    2. Post-Onboarding Surveying: Surveying your customer post-onboarding can be a great tool to obtain feedback on the onboarding process, get details on any challenges the customer has faced during or after implementation, and also gauge satisfaction of the product. Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys are commonly used by SaaS organizations, in addition to Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys and others. Surveying can be done through a variety of methods including in-app or via email.
    3. Usage: Product usage can also be a great metric to track during onboarding, if you have access to this information. If your onboarding process involves logging into your application to complete certain actions or access specific modules, then it could be beneficial to track your customer's execution of these actions. For example, if your customer has not done "Action X" within two weeks of Onboarding Kick-off, then you may consider triggering a notification to the Onboarding Specialist to follow-up with this customer to assure that the Onboarding does not lose momentum. Identifying what these key actions are and what the ideal timeframe is for completion of these actions within the Onboarding process is essential as it will allow you to accurately track those Usage metrics, such as in the above example. The Onboarding process and timeline may vary (by product line, size of the customer, etc.), so segmenting your customer base and creating corresponding Onboarding journey's may be advantageous.

    I hope this helps, let me know if you have any questions! 😀

  • Ashton Liu
    Ashton Liu Member Posts: 29 Expert
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    I'm doing a similar exercise at my company and this is top of mind for me as well. I agree with the points made earlier. To add a little more context from my experience:

    -Measure what you can control - for my team and I, we are dependent on a technical implementation process that occurs before we can get the end user in the product. It presents a challenge for us in measuring the success of implementation vs. onboarding as we have to be able to separate the two. The same concept came up as we were strategizing how to structure onboarding. You should only measure what you control as a KPI, that way your KPIs aren't measuring other dependencies in the customer journey.

    -Most onboarding metrics balance onboarding time/efficiency and onboarding quality. For most people, the latter is going to be more important as onboarding lays the groundwork for later adoption and renewal. Surveys are useful to measure satisfaction, and we use these as well. In practice though there is always noise in the data (user error, double entry, "I thought it was great but accidentally clicked 3," etc.). If you have good usage/adoption data, that will be very useful. You can use this to see what people are actually doing, i.e., adopting what you showed them, seeing value where you want them to, etc.

    We don't share metrics or KPIs with other teams like support or product. However, on my team we stay very close to support as we overlap on a lot of customer issues. More often we might share separate onboarding and support statistics to present a problem to the product team. For example, this product limitation is causing issues when onboarding customers (e.g., lower satisfaction and adoption) and this also manifests in support cases (X% more tickets and X% longer to resolve).

  • Amanda Flurry
    Amanda Flurry Member Posts: 11 Navigator
    First Comment First Anniversary Name Dropper

    Hi @usha,

    I love the comment on this article: "Often, companies choose KPIs that reflect their own internal tasks, when really they should be following metrics that genuinely reflect the customer’s onboarding progress." As others have stated, time to value is of utmost importance.

    One company I worked with previously had a long implementation process that delayed time to value. There could also be long stretches of time with no product usage based on the cyclical nature of the work. We prioritized delivering value through strategic consulting in tandem with getting the product stood up including providing data analysis and focusing on change management through coaching sessions with organizations to get them prepared for rollout.

    I recommend taking the time to very clearly outline what problem your customer is trying to solve with your product, and tracking towards how you deliver progress towards solving that problem throughout the onboarding process.

    I highly recommend checking out this free resource as well. It includes various leaders talking about the KPIs they rely on in the onboarding process starting on page 27.

    Best of luck!

  • Stewart Stokes
    Stewart Stokes Member Posts: 17 Thought Leader
    First Comment

    A simple framework to think about is:

    • What does a successful customer look like after 6-12 months? (adjust the timeframe based on how long it takes to get to full maturity/value with your product).
    • What did that client look like at the end of onboarding? What metrics/indicators did they show at that point?

    Then just benchmark new clients to what good clients looked like earlier on in the relationship.

    You might also do the exercise in reverse and characterize what a bad/churning client looks like during onboarding, and structure your KPIs to avoid those outcomes.

    Good luck!