Customer Onboarding VS Implementation- Important Differences

Customer Onboarding and Implementation go hand in hand but have different meanings. Read more to decode the difference between onboarding and implementation.

Customer Onboarding VS Implementation seems like a true match, however, both these processes have their own meaning and importance. Customer onboarding deals with handholding the customer till they get acquainted with your product while implementation means deploying the customer requirements to the product for them to use.

What most SaaS enterprise businesses fail to realize is that both client onboarding, as well as implementation, are crucial for the success of their business. Usually, once the deal is closed and the customer has signed in the contract, most teams focus on getting the product deployed according to customer requirements, but that has proven to be a failing approach.

Customers look for the right customer onboarding process before they actually start using your product and therefore, because of the rush to implement things (with all other implementation challenges), that customer usually churns, leaving a loss for your business.

Let us understand both client onboarding and implementation and what are the major differences between them.

What is Customer Onboarding

The client onboarding or the customer onboarding process is, without a doubt, the most crucial part of the customer lifecycle. It sets the tone for their whole engagement with your product and company, even though it arrives immediately at the outset of their journey.

Client onboarding has a big influence on whether a customer sticks with your product for a long time or leaves after a few months. When done correctly, it positions your clients for success while also emphasizing the value of your offering. If done incorrectly, clients would wonder why they joined up in the first place.

It is like making the first impression and it's necessary that your onboarding team follows the best customer onboarding practices in the business. Your onboarding process will decide the fate of your customer’s decision to stick with your product or service.

Client onboarding refers to the tasks that you, your team, and stakeholders must perform in order to supply one of your services or products to a new client. During the onboarding process, your onboarding team will ensure that they completely understand your client's activities, background, and needs, as well as collect all of the information needed to provide the best service while safeguarding your business.

What is SaaS Implementation?

Implementing your product involves making it active and useful to your consumers. Gathering requirements, moving data, configuring and modifying software, adding custom objects and fields, embedding into other applications, setting up users, conducting tests, and branding are all examples of implementations.

After all of this work, you will be able to introduce your product to your consumer. This is the point at which the product goes live and is made available to users, with all customization and integrations (largely) functional. Implementation might take anything from a few minutes to many months, depending on the complexity of your product and the number of client modifications (use-case requirements) and integrations required.

SaaS Implementation is the process that comes AFTER the customer onboarding process. Usually, the implementation team has very less interaction with the clients since they work on the product side of your business.

When the customer is familiar with your product, they are ready to use it on a daily basis in their business. It is also your responsibility to guarantee that your customer uses your platform. Your role in implementation begins with teaching your clients so that they may achieve their short and long-term goals with the assistance of your product.

Implementation is usually an ongoing process that is required to take care that most of the customer requirements are met even after the go-live stage, which will ultimately help in customer retention.

Sync between Customer Onboarding and Implementation

Customer Success is a result of synchronization between the customer onboarding team and the implementation team.

In an organization, usually the pre-sales team handovers the client documents like SOW, Agreements, and requirements to the customer-onboarding team through emails, slack conversations, or in a word document format.

It is now the responsibility of the onboarding team to gather all the necessary information about the customer before the onboarding call and carry on with the process of onboarding the client.

Here the client is posed with questions about their requirements in detail which are then documented in the call recording, document, etc. Which will be handed over to the implementation team.

Sync between Customer Onboarding and Implementation

The implementation team then works on client requirements based on their task dependencies and where they stand on the product roadmap.

The entire process of implementation then depends upon the information provided by the onboarding team and the requirements that come in regularly through the customer success teams. In an absence of a single source of truth platform, the information is passed to cross-functional teams in silos of tools.

This leads to information loss and mainly ends up with delays in go-live with the client, leaving the client irritated and confused because they had clearly put forward their requirements.

Therefore it is crucial to have a synchronized system (single platform) for cross-functional collaboration across your organization mainly for customer onboarding and implementation.

Difference between Customer Onboarding and Implementation

Now that the entire process of client onboarding and implementation has been explained, there is no denying that both customer onboarding and implementation, though are part of the same process (customer success), have totally different meanings process-wise and result-wise.

Client Onboarding is the process of getting your customer acquainted with the product or giving them a workshop about the new features of the product you are offering.

While SaaS Implementation is the process of deploying the requirements of the client and developing the product that could be used by your customers.

A synergy between client onboarding and SaaS implementation results in customer retention and lowering customer churns.  Usually, the most importance is given to the process of client onboarding, however, it is also important to understand that SaaS implementation too deserves credit in the terms of customer success.

For any organization to succeed in customer retention and become truly customer-centric, it is necessary that they follow the best client onboarding practices and implementation practices.

Key Takeaways

Long story short, your customer onboarding process is not equal to, or even slightly similar to your implementation process. Every organization has dedicated teams for performing these processes and that makes it very clear that though synonymously used, these two words make up for totally different meanings.

However, with customer-centricity evolving in B2B enterprises, customer onboarding or the client onboarding process has taken up much more importance than implementation, only because the onboarding process leads to the customer making their decision to stay with your product for a long-term basis or not.

So when there actually is a customer onboarding VS Implementation match, it’s sure that customer onboarding might lead to a win, though implementation is equally important.


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