Most of us in SaaS companies can recite this stat from memory:
Customers are won or lost in the first 90 days of their post-sale journey.
It’s a crucial phase to get right, and that’s why we at TaskRay sweat the details of our onboarding solution. By now, you probably know that getting your company’s high-touch onboarding program working optimally has a direct impact on your bottom line and can pay off handsomely. But how do you know if your program is going well? And how can you scale it as you grow?
I’ve identified three key steps to improve and scale your high-touch onboarding program.
Step 1: Conduct Regular Reviews
As you’re building your high-touch onboarding program, I suggest conducting a quarterly review. But at minimum, schedule an annual review of your program. This is where the reports and templates we talked about in our last post will provide important insights. You’ll be able to judge your performance using metrics and easily identify where your process and programs need updating.
For example, at TaskRay, I recently did a quarterly review of our onboarding program and using our Template Performance view in TaskRay, noticed that we were consistently late on one of our milestones. In talking with the team, we agreed that we needed to modify our template to have this milestone completed at project creation. Additionally, while most of our projects are completed on time, we did notice that our Business Process Review is usually completed early.
Reports are great at identifying what is going on across the program level, but you also need qualitative information about the program. This is where a superuser can help you!
Meet and Greet With a Superusers
Great onboarding is all about great communication, so get communicating! This is a perfect opportunity to tap one of your onboarding program’s superusers to provide guidance on what’s going well and what can be improved from the team’s perspective.
You probably know this, but just so we’re all on the same page: A superuser in this example is a person in your company, on the onboarding team, with the most knowledge of your process and systems. They are the rockstars—usually experts in their domain and who often voluntarily offer to help other users by sharing their experiences. They are also more vocal than other users and remain up-to-date on the roadmap of the product. Sidenote: knowing your superusers is a really important piece of information.
If your process requires other departments to onboard make sure you have superusers in those departments at your company:
- If you are seeing a pattern of customers not opting into your high-touch onboarding program, talk to a superuser in sales about how they speak about onboarding with a customer during the sale. This could illuminate adoption problems.
- Talking to a superuser from the engineering or product departments in your company can help to prevent issues and delays for the customer and support adoption and improvements to the onboarding experience for the customer.
When you reach out to superusers about their experiences, ask questions, take meticulous notes (or record your conversation). Most importantly, be sure to be very clear upfront about how much of their time you will need, stick to the allotted time, and maybe offer them some kind of reward or incentive for agreeing to work with you (Starbucks card, company schwag, etc).
To ensure you’re quickly assessing and improving your high-touch onboarding program, schedule superuser “meet and greets” on a quarterly basis.
Step 2: Make System Improvements
In the early days—when you just have a handful of new customers a month or you are doing a beta of your new program—you can easily use a spreadsheet to track the onboarding of your new users. But as you grow and need to improve your onboarding experience, investing in a purpose-built onboarding tool like TaskRay can make a lot of sense.
Our team eats our own dog food (as they say) and use TaskRay to manage our onboarding programs. TaskRay is designed for companies that onboard multiple customers at once and require high-, low- and tech-touch onboarding programs. TaskRay can help you and your team be more productive, efficient, and collaborative with your onboarding. And because TaskRay is Salesforce-native, teams have a single source of truth for all their data and can easily create custom reports on all onboardings to understand the entire program versus digging into individual projects and manually rolling the data up.
Investing in a custom onboarding tool makes quarterly and annual reviews much easier. An onboarding tool like TaskRay helps your team focus on building relationships with a new customer, not just the process itself. At TaskRay, our entire mission is to create systems to ensure that your customers receive a consistently excellent onboarding experience, that the experience is visible to management, and that users can easily see the status of the projects they are managing.
Sprinkle in a Dash of Automation
Once you have a purpose-built system, you can refine and improve your high-touch onboarding program by incorporating more automation in your process or refining the automation you have.
On a recent project I was working on with my team, we started with a basic handoff between sales and onboarding. As the team got more comfortable, we decided to add additional logic to the process and combine two automations into one to make it more efficient
In the same way, you should add salt sparingly to what you cook, add automation into onboarding carefully and slowly. That way, you won’t have to spend a lot of energy unwinding automation that isn’t helpful.
Step 3: Make Product and/or Documentation Improvements
Part of creating an effective high-touch onboarding program is learning what needs to be high-touch and what can be more effectively handled through improvements to your product and documentation.
As you and your team get more experienced and your onboarding process begins to gel, you’ll likely find ways to improve your product or support documentation to remove friction for your customer and/or hassle for your team, which can result in time saved and happier customers.
To accomplish this, I advocate for periodically conducting interviews with customers and your onboarding and/or product teams as they are on the ground using your product.
Conducting customer interviews teases out how their onboarding experience really went. Ask a lot of questions, give them time to answer, and take the feedback seriously. (Consider recording the call so that you can really focus on the conversation.) What you’re trying to pinpoint is if there are any improvements that can be made to the customer onboarding experience and in the product.
Onboarding/Product Team Interviews
Ensure you have a process for your onboarding and product teams to provide feedback on how your product could be improved in order to remove friction in onboarding customers. This can be a monthly internal meeting or it can be through product feedback and talking to customers.
At a recent onboarding meeting, we discovered there were similarities across use cases for our customers. This was a valuable insight for us. It helped us brainstorm ways to streamline and build consistency to scale up our onboarding process through the documentation we designed.
We also have a monthly meeting with our product and onboarding teams to review the product feedback we received during the prior month. This regular communication allows our teams to get an understanding of what the feedback is so they can determine what, if any, adjustments can be made to our product or documentation and what needs to be built into our onboarding program.
Why Onboarding Is Never Really “Done”
Bottom line: you should always be looking for ways to improve and tighten your program and to build programs that allow your customer to grow with your product. Tweak and tweak until you’re satisfied the program is at its strongest.
My passion for this topic is legit! If you’d like to learn more from me on how to weave customer onboarding success into your organization’s DNA, sign up for my upcoming webinar!