In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, customer onboarding and implementation have become crucial processes for any business that wants to succeed. The onboarding process is the foundation of any successful customer relationship. It sets the stage for a positive experience, establishes trust, and ensures that customers are using the product or service to its fullest potential.
Many businesses use customer onboarding and implementation software to speed up this process. However, with so many available options, choosing the right software for your business can be overwhelming. That's where this guide comes in.
Let's imagine a simple scenario where you go to a shop to buy an electrical washing machine. You meet the sales agent, and he explains to you every swanky feature that the machine offers and promises that the installation engineer will take care of other features of the machine and how to use the machine.
You buy the machine because you know it will solve your problems. The installation engineer comes in, explains to you the working mechanisms of the washing machine, and leaves, yet you are clueless about how to use the machine.
You ring up the showroom; they connect you to customer service, and then you are left with a back and forth between you, customer care, and the engineer trying to figure out what exactly is wrong or how they could help you.
But by this point, you've decided not to buy from that showroom again and instead wait for the price of the washing machine to fall.
Does this incident look bright in terms of customer success?
This was a scene in a B2C space where customers are abundant (given the world population), but what about the B2B space? Let's just narrow it down to the B2B SaaS enterprise space.
For a business operating in the enterprise SaaS space, customer success is one of the critical aspects of staying in business. And with the extreme shift from an on-premise model to a subscription-based model, enterprises are focusing on customer-centricity now more than ever.
Predominantly, a customer’s journey in an enterprise SaaS environment consists of these four steps.
So if we take you through the entire process, it is something like this.
The sales team pursues the lead and tries to get conversions through Slack, emails, google sheets/excel, and Voila! Seals the deal. Then the contract is signed, and the process of knowledge transfer starts wherein the sales team gives a download of the new client to the onboarding team through emails, slack conversations, call recordings, SOWs, etc.
The onboarding team then “tries” to gather as much information from the disbursed data gathering and sets up a kick-off meeting with the customer to introduce the team and discuss the milestones, requirements, and in-depth needs of the customer.
The customer is re-iterating their requirements for the second time, once with the sales team and once with the onboarding team. The onboarding team tries to take notes of entire requirements and shares them with the implementation team.
The implementation team then tries to piece together the customer requirements and tie them to the product roadmap. Now, remember, the product team wouldn't prioritize each customer use-case requirement but rather try to expedite and complete the pending tasks for product development.
While the product team is working on implementations (with task allocations on JIRA or any project management tools), the customer success team takes over the customer and tries to establish a relationship with them by providing timely updates about the product milestones, progress, and delays through emails or weekly calls.
Sometimes there happens to be a delay from the customer's end due to a delay in communicating to the customer about what details/documents are needed, details of their requirements, etc.
The CS team then handles the entire follow-up process via emails, calls, etc.; this results in additional work for the team as it is a continuous chase until the customer provides the information on which the product team will start working.
While this is happening, the customer notices that the use-case requirements they mentioned have not yet been implemented, and the CS team is now in the fire-fighting stage of the go-live delays.
The customer is getting irate since there's a delay in achieving the use cases, which, in turn, is delaying the go-live date. The customer success team is constantly working on getting the customer to stay, but with the delays, the customer's decision to look for other alternatives is getting stronger day by day.
Post the go-live, the customer isn't delighted with the product delivered as there is a vast gap between what was promised to them in the pre-sales stage and what was delivered to them on the go-live date.
In the end, the sales, onboarding, and implementation teams wash off their hands from the customer as they have delivered. The customer success team is now facing a barrage from the client because of disappointments from the other internal teams for the communication gap and from the management because their KPIs are solely based on customer retention.
Did we just describe a recipe for customer churn?
Yes, we did!
Now when we look at the bird's eye view of the entire customer journey in an enterprise SaaS business, most of the mishaps could have been avoided if the internal teams were in sync with one another and the customer's needs were considered from the start.
The main factor preventing internal teams from effectively communicating is the existence of various tool silos at each stage of the customer journey. Along with that, once the implementation stage is in process, the product manager has no idea about the prioritization of tasks and use cases as most of the information is lost, or there are zero insights on the revenue effect.
We know customer churns are inevitable, but in 2023, with most organizations aiming to scale their business with customer-centricity, it is imprudent that they sort this issue by having a customer onboarding platform that caters as a single truth of platform for cross-functional teams.
A single source of truth is a repository where data from several platforms may be gathered and arranged in one location. It's simple to use and lets you and other team members view data from one central spot.
For example, an enterprise SaaS may employ silos of tools during and after the customer onboarding and implementation process. Other cross-functional teams may utilize several tools for data storage and retrieval in addition to the sales team's use of multiple technologies. And that's just for one customer.
In an enterprise SaaS firm, open and transparent communication is critical. When all of these tasks are completed on a single platform, it is achievable to successfully manage the client's expectations, use cases, work done by cross-functional teams, tracking, and prioritizing work. It streamlines the customer onboarding and implementation process.
A single source of truth brings all the information together in one location, making large data conveniently available and accessible. Streamlining cooperation with cross-functional teams by avoiding information loss.
If you Google the "customer-centric onboarding and implementation" platform, you will be bombarded with hundreds of tools' suggestions that claim to be the perfect solution for your business needs.
Most of them promise to solve all your problems! But is it really the case?
Let's look at some statistics. According to Lincoln Murphy, Customer-Centric Growth Leader & Expert, 30% of the SaaS companies in 2020 suffered from an unacceptable churn rate!
That means most tools have been able to crack the issue but aren't able to provide a foolproof solution for it, as they are entirely focused on providing solutions for only one or two teams involved in the customer journey. That would again leave your business fighting the issue of information loss.
So while making the investment decision of purchasing a customer onboarding and implementation solution, here are a few things you need to look out for.
The tool should be able to offer the following:
When multiple teams are working together, it is evident that each team is focusing on different aspects of the customer journey.
Therefore it is crucial that the tool you invest in must provide you with the necessary infrastructure to plan and improve the speed of onboarding clients and reduce the implementation time.
Stressing on the very important fact here, i.e., loss of information due to different silos of tools.
The customer-centric onboarding and implementation platform should be able to provide a single source of truth base for each client and not lose any data or customer information during the handoff.
Easier collaboration between internal teams and customers will help increase the implementation team's efficiency.
Most project managers or customer success teams spend time collating the required information by scavenging different tools. These data are then to be presented to the internal teams and the customer in the process called reporting.
There is a high possibility that they might have skipped on a few significant pieces of information, owing to the time required and accounting for the manual error.
Hence, the platform you should be investing in should be able to provide effortless visibility on crucial data that can help the project managers and the implementation teams to work on their product roadmap and allocate resources accordingly.
The tool should be able to provide you with a single-click view of projects, use cases, tasks, and project dependencies of a customer in a holistic way.
Now the implementation leads wouldn't have to go back and forth with the accounts teams or the customer success teams to understand the requirements of each and every customer. Back and forth of information is a recipe for delays and customer escalations.
A comprehensive customer onboarding and implementation tool should be able to provide actionable insights and recommendations to help your teams speed up prioritization not just on task levels but on use-case levels.
Once the teams are able to recognize the revenue risks, this will help fuel prioritization of what needs to be given more attention and thereby helping cross-functional teams to achieve unanimous success!
Evaluation should also help your teams and customers understand accountability and dependencies of tasks and use cases, thereby helping a seamless collaboration amongst the teams.
In conclusion, choosing the right customer onboarding software for B2B SaaS is crucial for any business looking to improve its customer experience, drive growth, and increase customer retention. Investing in the right customer onboarding and implementation software can not only improve your bottom line but also build strong, long-lasting relationships with your customers.
Choosing the right tool for your business is crucial, especially in the enterprise SaaS business, where customer-centricity is taking the forefront of the business.
Rupesh Rao, the founder and CEO of CogniSaaS, has rightly pointed out,
"The current tools for customer onboarding and legacy project management are mostly task tracking tools. For historical reasons, these tools were not designed to track the value delivery by tracking customer business outcomes and use cases."
Therefore, it becomes imperative that more thought and planning should go into selecting the right customer onboarding platform for your business.