What was the most impactful change you made to your onboarding process?

Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson Member Posts: 2 Navigator
edited October 16 in Customer Journey
Hey guys,

I was just interested to hear if there were any 'lightbulb' moments that people have had when they've been looking at their onboarding process, particularly through the first 30 days or so.

Have you changed anything, or added anything, that's made a major impact to the way customers have interacted with you, or your conversion/activation rates? 

Really keen to hear your thoughts!


  • BenB
    BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Insightfuls Name Dropper
    edited September 2021
    This may be a boring answer to a very interesting question @Chris Johnson - but we recently made an effort to solve for any recurring escalation/confusion clients may have 6-12 months after initial purchase.

    Contract terms, definisions, expectations etc... What a client remembers from sales regarding the initial purchase quickly becomes:  "our sales person said..." or "this is NOT how it was described to me."  It doesnt happen often, but we committed to OVER communicating with the client early on to ensure we were all on the same page.  Any potential confusion is tackled right away.  

    As the one responsible for growth and renewals.... I'm much happier :)
  • Georges Arnaout
    Georges Arnaout Member Posts: 3 Navigator
    edited September 2021

    Hi Chris -

    We invested more in Roles and responsibilities between pre and post sales (including sales enablement).  It was very clear that sales expectations and handoffs are the main causes for all the onboarding delays we have had. 

  • Daryl Colborne
    Daryl Colborne Member Posts: 53 Expert
    Second Anniversary 10 Comments Name Dropper
    edited September 2021

    Hi Chris,

    We are just putting the finishing touches on releasing a Customer Effort Score survey at the end of our onboarding phase. By doing so, we hope to learn any areas of improvement that need to be made during onboarding as well as anything we are already doing well!



  • Mike Kochczynski
    Mike Kochczynski Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited September 2021
    I've made two big adjustments:
    -The client success lead joins the salesperson on a demo follow-up call to introduce the CSL, preview the hand-off, discuss timeline, etc.
    -On my launch/intro call, I plot out the entire implementation, check-in schedule, and business review dates. It adds time to that initial call, but puts everyone on the same page from day 1 regarding what we'll do, when we'll do it, and who needs to be involved (and when).
  • Nicholas Ciambrello
    Nicholas Ciambrello Member Posts: 27 Expert
    Second Anniversary
    edited September 2021

    The Impactful change by far was coaching the team to better understand the customers goals. We started with a What how Why framework but found this from Hubspot https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/gpct-sales-qualification

    Its called GPCT. Without the full understanding of what the customers goal are, how they plan to achieve it, what challenges they have faced or anticpate facing and the timline they are on to achieve results we could simply not drive engagement with our product with out it.

    I feel like a lot of what we read about is Processes and KPIs which are obviously immensely valuable but theres not ,much out there on how to coach and develop a relation with a customer, GPCT was an "AHA!" moment for my teams. Its so much easier to track value being delivered to the customer when you do a great job understanding why they purchased this. Yes Sales gets this info but typically they do it through BANT. which is only relevent to Sales. GPCT allows the onboarding team to truly quantify what success is to the customer which is why were all in business.

    Give it a read Hubspot does fantastic work with their CS department

  • Shareil Nariman
    Shareil Nariman Member Posts: 9 Seeker
    edited September 2021
    Hey Chris!

    A couple things come to mind across the onboarding programs I've build and managed:
    1. Specializing onboarding - having "experts" on the team who align with a certain industry or customer type to make the onboarding experience more personal to the end user.
    2. Reducing the number of calls - I've worked on programs that started by trying to cram 5-6 calls into the first 60 days and I've updated that to 2-3 calls in the first 30 days with a greater emphasis on discovery questions to drive immediate value instead of trying to "show ever single feature"
    3. Adding a layer of 1:many onboarding - the same team doing 1:1 onboarding can also run webinars (it's mostly the same content just bigger audience) The advantage here is, now you have on-demand content. 
    4. Adding homework during the onboarding process - There is a lot of information (like the "how-to" stuff) that can be shared via tutorials and short videos, that way if you only have a chance to have 1 call with each customer, you can spend that time on the "why-to" stuff - really showing the value of your tool for THEIR needs versus just highlighting random features. 
    5. Re-vamping our introduction emails - to more clearly lay out the onboarding process (I'm wrapping up a blog post on this soon to publish to our website and will share the link with you directly)
    6. I've also played with different measurements of success (i.e. is onboarding even working?) - here is a write-up on some of those metrics to consider: https://arrows.to/resources/customer-onboarding-metrics/
    Let me know if any of that strikes some curiosity and I'm happy to chat more!

  • Lisa Pratt
    Lisa Pratt Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    edited September 2021
    Hi - My first question is what part of the journey do you consider onboarding?  We tend to use that term for just after the sales is made.  Our first "ah-ha" was the need for an onboarding experience to do two things: 1) engage the customer during the delay between signing the contract and having an implementation team assigned and 2) help re-set customer expectations about what their role will be in the implementation.  Giving them a heads up with check lists and configuration use case spreadsheets to start thinking about has been really helpful.  We also throw in some fun digital messaging during the more difficult times of the implementation experience.  Oh, and depending on your business model, it is really important to get customers engaged in your online community as early as possible to start to establish digital engagement, crowd sourcing of answers, getting smart etc as a self service offering.
  • Will Stevenson
    Will Stevenson Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited September 2021

    Hey Chris, 

    So many great answers here! I'm going to break the rules and add more than one. ;) 

    Here is my list of the most impactful changes, not in order of biggest impact, but in order of the journey: 

    • Splitting the CS Team into two (or more) roles. Depending on the size of the organization, there comes a time when you should have Onboarders and CSMs with different and defined roles. Which also means you have to hire for them differently. Usually I look for process oriented people for Onboarding and relationship oriented people for the CSM role (I have a blog with some helpful hints on hiring and interview questions here). 
    • Requiring information from Sales. With so many awesome tools out there and workflows within CRM, it's easy to required important information at different times in the Sales cycle. Getting crucial information for CS/Onboarding should simply be a requirement of the sales team. 
    • Internal handoffs should be clean. Your CS/Onboarding team should know what they need from to have a successful onboarding, if they don't have the information needed in the CRM they should be tracking it down. Setting that expectation from the team and giving them the framework can give you an immediate lift. The framework for the team can be a simple "Preparedness Plan" that outlines everything they should know going into the call. Here's an example of mine
    • Reducing external handoffs. Usually handing off the customer from Sales > Onboarding > CSM > Support is going to cause general confusion and the customer is going to have feelings of being "passed off", not handed off. Trying to eliminate or soften the blow helps. For example, Sales handing off directly to the CSM and the CSM roping the Onboarder in as a supporting role. 
    • Visual representation of Onboarding. Having a visual map of "you are here" helps the client identify where they are, where they've been, and where they are going. I've used these from early in the sales process through the end of Onboarding. It can be really simple, here's mine
    • A tool to manage Onboarding. This one I'm a little biased on (I'm the founder of Onboard.io), but one of my biggest frustrations leading Onboarding teams was there were no tools build specifically for Onboarding - or for what we were trying to accomplish. Project and Task Management softwares are time consuming and not customer friendly, spreadsheets couldn't be shared with clients, none of the tools seamlessly integrated with our CRM, etc. We built Onboard to overcome these challenges. 
    • Giving the client homework. One really important step here, ensure they have all the detail they need to complete the homework. Without clear, written steps it will just become a bottleneck. But without visibility, there is no accountability. Meaning if they client doesn't know what they're supposed to do, you can't hold them accountable. 
    • Surveys. I've found two surveys have helped my teams the most. One after the initial onboarding call to understand how the customer's expectations aligned with their experience. This survey usually helps identify problems before they are problems and allows you to adjust expectations, while giving your Sales team feedback. Then another survey post onboarding. This is going to help your CSM know where the customer stands as the embark on the rest of their journey. Here are the surveys I've sent
    These are just a few of my lightbulb moments, but I wrote a guide with a ton more. Let me know what you think. :)The Definitive Guide to Customer Onboarding

    I hope this helps! Always happy to chat Onboarding. :)
  • Chris Johnson
    Chris Johnson Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited September 2021
    Thanks everyone - so many great responses here and a lot to dig into! 

    Much appreciated.
  • Anita Toth
    Anita Toth Member Posts: 246 Expert
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments Photogenic
    edited September 2021
    Love this @Daryl Colborne. Have you considered a small group of customer interviews to confirm the results you'll get from the CES? 
  • Daryl Colborne
    Daryl Colborne Member Posts: 53 Expert
    Second Anniversary 10 Comments Name Dropper
    edited September 2021
    Was definitely planning on doing something similar to that, especially for the ones that are finding the product difficult to use :)
  • Andreas Knoefel
    Andreas Knoefel Member Posts: 74 Expert
    edited September 2021
    Curious to hear about your results! I am a huge fan of the CES.
  • Andreas Knoefel
    Andreas Knoefel Member Posts: 74 Expert
    edited September 2021
    Self-help has been the most impactful change to our onboarding, regardless of customer size / touch-type. (Like the red button in the famous psychology experiment, knowing that you CAN get help helps a lot).

    This starts with a solid knowledge base that is frequently updated (all resolved tickets need to point to a KB article).

    Next I implemented a curriculum that you can follow, which is linked to inApp assistance, and the KB above

    This curriculum is also followed by our certified SI partners, who offer micro-services, in case you are stuck

    Finally we have regular office hours in case you get stuck

    With all of those, we achieved (a) a homogenous onboarding process and (b) improved T2V significantly