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.


April 13, 2022

Table of Contents

    Customer Onboarding vs. implementation seems like a true match. However, both these processes have their own meaning and importance.

    Customer onboarding deals with hand-holding 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 customer onboarding and implementation are crucial for the success of their business and the customer journey. Usually, once the deal is closed and the customer has signed the contract, most teams focus on deploying the product based on their understanding of the customer's requirements in the implementation process, but that has proven to be a failing approach.

    Customers look for the right customer onboarding process before they actually start using your product. 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 in depth both client onboarding and implementation and what are the major differences between them.

    Customer Onboarding vs Implementation:

    What Is Customer Onboarding?

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

    Customer onboarding greatly influences 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, your clients would not see any value in your offering and then ultimately churn. It is like making the first impression; your onboarding team must follow the best customer onboarding practices in the business.

    A successful onboarding process will decide the fate of your customer's decision to stick with your product or service. Customer onboarding refers to the tasks that you, your team, and your stakeholders must perform together to provide value to your new customers.

    During an effective customer onboarding process, your onboarding team will ensure that they completely understand your customer's requirements, pain points, background, and needs, as well as collect all of the information needed to provide the best service to the new clients while safeguarding your business.

    What Is SaaS Implementation?

    Implementing your product involves making it active and valuable to your consumers. Gathering requirements, moving data, configuring and modifying software, adding custom modules and fundamental features, embedding into other applications, setting up users, conducting tests, and helping in successful adoption are all examples of implementations.

    After all of this work, you will be able to introduce your product to your consumer. This is when the product goes live and is made available to users, with all customization and integrations (largely) functional.

    SaaS Implementation might take a few minutes to many months, depending on the complexity of your product and the number of customer modifications (use-case requirements) and integrations required.

    SaaS implementation is the process that comes AFTER the customer onboarding process. Usually, the implementation team interacts less with the customers 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 successfully adopts your platform in their workflow.

    Your role in implementation begins with teaching your clients, streamlining operations, and helping your clients in the smooth transition to your product so that they may achieve their short and long-term goals with the assistance of your product.

    Implementation is usually an ongoing process to ensure 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 Process And Implementation

    Customer Success is a result of synchronization between the various cross-functional teams like sales, onboarding, implementation, project managers, and customer support.

    In an enterprise SaaS 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 customer. Here the customer is posed with detailed questions about their requirements and use cases, which are documented in the call recording, document, etc., which will be handed over to the implementation team.

    The implementation team then works on customers' 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 customer onboarding team and the requirements that come in regularly through the customer success teams.

    In the 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 results in delays in going live with the client, leaving the customers irritated and confused because they had clearly put forward their requirements.

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

    Customer Onboarding vs implementation

    Now that we have a comprehensive understanding of the customer onboarding and implementation process, there is no denying that both customer onboarding and implementation, though they are part of the same process (customer success), have totally different meanings process-wise and outcome-wise.

    Customer Onboarding is the process of getting your customers acquainted with the product or giving them a workshop about the new features of the product you are offering. At the same time, SaaS implementation is the process of deploying the client's requirements and creating a product that your customers could use.

    A synergy between client onboarding and SaaS implementation results in customer retention, customer satisfaction, and lowering customer churn. Usually, enterprise SaaS companies give the most importance to customer onboarding. However, it is also essential to understand that SaaS implementation deserves credit regarding customer success.

    For any software solutions organization to succeed in customer retention and become truly customer-centric, it must follow the best customer onboarding and implementation practices.

    Key Takeaways

    Long story short, your customer onboarding process is not equal to or 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 client onboarding 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 client onboarding vs. implementation match, it's sure that customer onboarding might lead to a win, though implementation is equally important. But when companies want to focus on customer success, it is evident that both these stages of the customer journey are equally important.

    If you are an enterprise SaaS company with complex implementation processes, we would suggest taking a demo with us or our free onboarding evaluation to help you understand why your customers churn.

    Don't forget to share this post!

    Level Up Your Onboarding & Implementation Process!

    Get Started