What to do when a company won't provide any onboarding (even though the contract includes it)?

Jodi Millen
Jodi Millen Member Posts: 14 Contributor
edited October 16 in CS Technology
This is my first question to the community.

My company hosts an online research community.  The platform we use to host the community was supposed to have provided us with onboarding to manage the community and engage the members.  Unfortunately, no onboarding has been provided.  Whenever I ask for it, my "client success manager"  asks me to ask him questions.  I explained to him that while this is not the first community I have managed, it is the first time using their platform to do so - and I am working through it to try and determine which questions I should be asking. 

Unfortunately, the setup and engagement are not intuitive at all.  I described it to him as feeling like I just bought a robot that was advertised as plug n play, but then found myself stranded on an island with said robot in 1000 pieces with only IKEA assembly instructions to guide me (no disrespect to IKEA).  

The most I have been given is a link to a customer demo that does not touch on the very vital issue of engagement (not to mention dozens of little issues).  From integrating with social media, to best practices in leveraging rewards and incentives - it is not functioning as described and I am not receiving any guidance. 

Honestly, I have never been in this position before.  I have been in the position of both client and vendor.  As a vendor, I lean toward more support rather than less.  As a client, I appreciate more rather than less.  But regardless of which side I am coming from, I have never received nor given well...nothing.  Truly, I am starting to suspect that the platform does not know what "client onboarding" is.
I am curious how others have handled situations like this, or would handle it if you were in my shoes? 

I have read several awesome posts in this forum about motivating customers to participate in their onboarding. 

But what does one do when the platform vendor won't onboard the customer?

Any advice/help/guidance would be so appreciated!

Thank you!


  • Andrew Marks
    Andrew Marks Member Posts: 54 Expert
    Second Anniversary 5 Comments Office Hours Host 2022 5 Likes
    edited November 2021
    I would escalate above your client success manager to see if you can get someone that can help you. Maybe this is a situation where you're dealing with someone who is really green? 

    Otherwise, I'd consider canceling your contract, requesting a refund, and finding another vendor that actually has a documented onboarding process that they can walk you through prior to signing up. 

    If this is how they handle getting you "onboarded", imagine what the situation will be when you have a problem that affects your "customers".

    My two cents.

  • Jodi Millen
    Jodi Millen Member Posts: 14 Contributor
    edited November 2021
    Thank you so much Andrew!

    Yes, my account manager/client success manager is green.  But I tried to give him a chance to get his sea legs.  In fact, one of the first things I ever told him after there was an issue with our migration and he did not tell us that there was an issue that would impact our new launch date (which we pushed back by 3 days because of the migration issue) was my major pain point: Do not leave me without any communication.  Just tell me what is happening.  We can always figure it out.  It's when something is wrong and I don't hear from you that I am going to get upset.  Well...so much for managing expectations upfront....

    The issue was escalated to the director of Canadian accounts, but he will not respond and is leaving it to the account manager (I will be addressing that to be sure).  I did suggest that we renegotiate the contract - keeping the survey research platform but ditching the communities platform, as it seems clear that they cannot provide us with the support we need.  They responded saying that they couldn't do that.

    I'm just so frustrated as it almost feels like they are withholding onboarding support - just today my account manager said that he will put me in touch with their communities expert because he "knows everything."  I asked where the community manager has been for the past 2.5 months that I have been asking for guidance...?  More likely, however, is that they actually promised onboarding contractually, don't actually have onboarding and trying to keep the sale by pretending that they do...?

    I don't think they will let me break the contract.  And I am unsure if they can provide the support.  So now I just feel stuck: I can't get out and I can't move forward.  Honestly, I am looking for a contract breach at this point.  Clearly, I would never have chosen them as a vendor if I had any idea that this was what we were going to get.  You are 100% correct: if this is how they handle onboarding, how will they respond when there is an issue that affects customers/members?

    Thanks so much for the input.
  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 249 Expert
    100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited November 2021
    Many organizations are Sales Driven organizations. Involving the person who sold you the solution can open up the doors to the tools you agreed to. I would bring Sales into the conversation as well as seeking to go above the CSM like Andrew recommended.
  • Carolyn Pawelek
    Carolyn Pawelek Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited November 2021

    Several thoughts here:
    1. Do they have an internal customer community? If so, post in there about onboarding and see what other customers have to say. If they don't, I would be concerned. If they do, this will get attention.
    2. What is in your contract? Did you purchase onboarding services? 
    3. I 100% agree with Kevin, next step would be going to the original Sales person - they have commission on the line.
    4. If you are willing to share the community, some of us might have connections that could help you.
    Good luck!

  • Jodi Millen
    Jodi Millen Member Posts: 14 Contributor
    edited November 2021
    Hi Carolyn!
    Unfortunately, they do NOT have their own community.  But I was led to believe that they did when I signed.  And I agree with you 100% - I am concerned.  
    The client success manager is also the sales/account manager - also something I was not made aware of.  1.5 months after signing they told me they were hiring a communities expert.  2.5 months after signing they told me that they already had one.
    Yes, the contract clearly stipulates that onboarding is included.
    I am hesitant to share the platform, but since I cannot seem to move forward, I am going to risk it!  Please know I am not looking to "out" or "bash" here.  Carolyn, if anyone has connections that can help, I am open!  The community research engagement platform is run by QuestionPro.  It includes a full research platform and a research community hosting platform.  Both are problematic.  The communities is concerning me more as that is where the much greater subscription price comes from.
    Any help would be most sincerely welcome.
  • Jodi Millen
    Jodi Millen Member Posts: 14 Contributor
    edited November 2021
    Thank you Kevin!  Yes, I have brought sales into the conversation and discovered that the CSM is also sales (the same person).  I have now brought the regional director in as well.  Still nothing.  As in, the last I heard from them was Tuesday morning when the CSM said they would be getting onboarding materials over to me.
  • Mark Flanagan
    Mark Flanagan Member Posts: 26 Expert
    edited November 2021
    Why are you working with them, Jodi?
  • Jodi Millen
    Jodi Millen Member Posts: 14 Contributor
    edited November 2021
    Excellent question Mark.  I chose them because they were offering all of the features I needed to run international surveys and a communities platform to engage in ongoing research projects - I was looking for a community platform that was specific to data insights research.   Along with the support, setup, and guidance to run successfully. However, what I was pitched and shown that influenced my purchase decision is not what I have received.  It feels very much like a bait and switch at this point. 
    As an update:  I have informed the CSM/Account Rep and the Regional Director that I am cancelling the two-year contract based on breach of contract.  I am only receiving responses from the CSM/Account Rep that will not cancel it.  The Regional Director will not even reply.  I have suggested that they escalate the issue as the CSM/Account Rep is very junior and the Regional Director will not respond.  I have tried calling head office several times and no picks up.  There is no email on the website to contact any specific department.  It is like I am literally stuck discussing this with an entry-level person.  I am not a fan of public "outing" or airing conflict publicly, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to speak to anyone above the CSM/Account Rep.
    Honestly, I have never seen - let alone experienced - the likes of this before.  Any advice would be most welcome.
  • Anita Toth
    Anita Toth Member Posts: 246 Expert
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments Photogenic
    edited November 2021
    My heart goes out to you @Jodi Millen. I really hope you get this resolved soon.
  • Guy Galon
    Guy Galon Member Posts: 26 Expert
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments Photogenic Name Dropper
    edited November 2021
    Hi Jodi,
    Reading this thread, it feels that you were mispresented and and mislead on what exactly you receive as part of your purchase.
    Other than pursuing legal option, which I am not sure if will be quick and not too costly, did you check who their senior management are?   CEO/CRO/CFO? I would definitely ping them on LinkedIn and give them a reality check about the business they run.
    One more option, is to find our who are investors are and find a way to tell them your story.

    You should go full force to make this story heard by the right people.
  • Jodi Millen
    Jodi Millen Member Posts: 14 Contributor
    edited November 2021
    Thank you Guy.  Yes, I have pinged the CEO and CCO on LinkedIn.  No response yet though.  Investors are a great suggestion.  I should also mention that their Canadian expansion is quite new which is why, I think, that I am having such difficulty in reaching someone to escalate the issue to.  One of the reasons I felt comfortable in choosing them as vendor was because they were well-established with headquarters in the USA, Europe and Australia.  It seemed that the Canadian arm was simply that - an arm.  But now it seems like it is a separate body altogether.
    I think you are right - I will need to go full force.  Legal is not a good option and one that I want to avoid at all costs.
    Thank you so much for your reply.
  • Jodi Millen
    Jodi Millen Member Posts: 14 Contributor
    edited November 2021
    Thank you so much Anita.  That means a LOT.  It is really a bad position to be in.  I really appreciate your kind words.
  • Jodi Millen
    Jodi Millen Member Posts: 14 Contributor
    edited November 2021
    Hi Guy,
    I forgot to mention that as of yesterday, the Regional Director finally responded to me for the first time saying that he will honour my request to escalate the issue to someone in a higher positon of authority.  They have not told me who that individual(s) might be.  However, since the Regional Director is the next level above the CSM/Account/Sales Manager and he cannot address the issue, I am thinking that the Regional Director must not have much authority in Canada and the issue will be escalated to the USA.  We shall see.
    Thank you again for your advice.