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I’ve been working in “customer-success land for nearly 20 years now. My philosophy that drives the work I do is “treat others as you wish to be treated.” That’s my version of the idea of “delighting customers.” 

At this point, the idea of “delight” is overused, but I’d like you to cast your thoughts back to the feeling of actual delight. Think back to your early childhood. When you were trying so hard to figure things out, and every day brought epic, amazing, new discoveries. Think back to those intoxicating, sun-drenched playground days of being 5, 6, and 7 years old. Can you remember how scared and secretly thrilled you felt to join in on brand new games that looked like fun, but whose rules you only sort of knew? How about the joy that bubbled up in you when someone invited you to play and offered to help?

You’d rush head-first into games like Four Square, Capture The Flag, and Red Light-Green Light because they looked like fun and you wanted to be a part of them. Through trial and error, and the guidance of the superstar player who took you under their wing to show how to win? 

Then, one day, something inside you clicked and for once, you were able to punch the tetherball without getting whacked in the face! Hooray! Or you weren’t the very first one out in Freeze Tag! The jump rope didn’t whip you in the legs when you tried to jump! Joy of joys! With a little help, you worked the game out and was yours, you owned it. That was true delight—delight for both you and the people who helped you. Now put a pin in that feeling for a moment. We’ll come back to it.

Look for the Helpers

Now, let’s look back again at those playground days but with a different focus. Zoom in on all those older kids, teachers, parents who would yell advice to you during a game, share an insight on the sideline, or in some cases, physically take you by the shoulders and push you to the place you were supposed to stand.   

Those folks invested lots of time and care in you so you’d understand the finer points of Freeze Tag or King of The Mountain, and fully enjoy the experience. In a sense, that was one of your first onboarding experiences.  

The Value of Onboarding

Your company spends all this time, energy, and resources developing new software or a helpful, new app. Then comes the moment of truth. At last, your customer has signed the contract. Now, what? This is actually the most critical make-or-break period of the relationship. You’ve invited your customer out onto the playground and they don’t know how to play the game. This is when your team must invest time, energy, and resources to make sure your customers understand how to use the tool the way it will help them most. That’s onboarding.

At TaskRay we actually think of onboarding as an ongoing process, one that starts well before the sale. I’ve been working for over a decade to develop high-touch onboarding programs, and I’ve seen first-hand just how critical this aspect of the customer journey can be.  

Onboarding is All The Rage

Customer onboarding has been getting a lot of press lately, and I’m glad. How you onboard new customers sets the tone for your ongoing relationship with them. And when your customers have a poor onboarding experience it can kill your growth…if not your business, entirely.

If you still aren’t sold on the business value of onboarding, take a look at these stats:

  • 40 to 60% of free trial users will use your product once and never come back
  • Most of your revenue comes from existing customers
  • Happy customers who are big fans are your best referral source for new customers
  • Customer retention lowers acquisition costs and increases revenue

Putting Your Onboarding Under a Microscope

So, what does customer onboarding look like in your organization? What kind of documentation, tutorials, videos, or other kinds of help do you offer a user when they’re using your software for the very first time?  

Is it lame? Fun? Intuitive? It really matters. If the experience is confusing, overwhelming, or even just meh, you’re in trouble. 

Consider the top two reasons customers give for bailing on a software product:

 Reason #1  They don’t understand the product.

 Reason #2  They don’t obtain any value from it. 

Better customer onboarding can help address both these critical issues.

Imagine your customer as a super-eager, 5-year old who is jumping out of his skin and can’t wait to learn the proper rules of Kickball. Now…how will you help that child learn the game and capture their enthusiasm? Do you essentially throw a 27-page brochure at them and say, “Good luck, kid. You’re on your own!”?

Do you care about the user? How much? How long are you willing to hold their hand and show them around your software? That’s how you have to think about it. Think back to the love and care those older siblings, teachers, and parents showed you as a child when you weren’t up to speed yet on a playground game. Think about how their excitement and sense of wonder and magic and possibility spilled over into your love of the game.  

When To Use a High-Touch Onboarding Program

Most software companies have some sort of onboarding. They usually fall into three categories.

Tech-touch Onboarding (in-app guidance, email campaigns, webinars)
Low-touch Onboarding  (general contact and check-ins with customers)
High-touch Onboarding (one-on-one, personalized guidance in the form of Salesforce or Zoom Rooms)

Just like not
all kids need to be grabbed by the shoulders and shown how to run the bases in the right direction, not all customers will require high-touch onboarding. So, how do you determine what level of attention your customers will need? 

Let’s use the Google Search Engine as an example. Google is so intuitive and user-friendly, that they don’t need to create lots of guides, manuals, and pointers to explain to users how to work it. Now, if you’re curious and want to know more about using Google Search or need assistance, you will find plenty of help through Google’s tech-touch onboarding process. 

Now, let’s look at a product like Zoom Rooms. The Zoom Room technology isn’t quite so obvious (yet). You can’t necessarily be led through it by automated prompts. It’s a complex enough system that humans need to be involved in the configuration so customers can use the technology. 

Software experts and solutions engineers may need to support the setup and training to satisfy the unique needs of the customer and the business. High-touch onboarding intends to provide a personalized experience to the customers while catering to their specific needs. This kind of white-glove care not only elevates the customer’s experience, but it also reinforces a long-term relationship between the customer and the organization.

Moving From One Onboarding Model to Another

Some companies start with high-touch models first and then as they start to scale they

transition to tech- and low-touch models. This is often the case when the product isn’t developed enough to enable tech-touch and low-touch. Other companies will start with tech-touch and low-touch and then expand into high-touch as their market shifts or if their product complexity changes.  

Here are the most common scenarios where our customers will use TaskRay software to manage their own high-touch onboarding programs for their clients.

Typical High-Touch Scenarios for SaaS

Example 1 – White Glove Service  Your client has someone internally that could do the work, but their time is committed to other projects. They need someone to help them learn the platform or do the work.
Example 2 – Filling the Void  Your client doesn’t have anyone who does the type of work required to set up your software and the implementation will not be successful unless you help them. 
Example 3 – A La Carte There are 2 or 3 products your client has purchased, each is highly customizable and configurable.  
Example 4 – Installation Physical Installation of equipment with software purchase. 

As you can see, my passion for Customer Onboarding runs deep! If you’d like to learn more from me on how to weave Customer Onboarding success into your organization’s DNA, build or improve your high-touch onboarding experience, and start creating actual delight for your customers, sign up for my upcoming webinar!