How Onboarding Impacts NPS, Adoption, Retention, and Expansion in CS?

Discover the critical role of customer onboarding in elevating your Customer Success metrics like adoption, retention, expansion, and NPS.


August 29, 2023

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    In the ever-changing landscape of enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS), customer retention is crucial in achieving long-term growth and profitability. Traditionally, the standard to measure key customer success metrics such as product adoption, NPS, bug rate, and stakeholder relations have always remained the way it is.

    Still, these metrics are often seen as ‘lagging indicators’ as they are based on the results of prior customer engagement. To truly comprehend and forecast customer success, it is necessary to focus on ‘leading indicators’ that provide the basis for positive results.

    This blog will explore the existing metrics and reveal the importance of onboarding as the primary driver for all other key customer success metrics, fostering customer focus and data-driven operational excellence.

    The Current Success Metrics [Lagging Indicators]

    The current metrics landscape for enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies includes a variety of indicators to measure customer success and retention, including Product Adoption, NPS (Net Promoter Score), Bug rate, and relationship with key stakeholders.

    Product Adoption:

    Product Adoption is one of the most critical metrics for measuring how well your customers use your product. It helps you determine whether your customers are discovering the value of the features offered, which impacts retention and growth opportunities. However, this metric only represents a successful onboarding process and continuous support.

    A key component of client success is ensuring strong product adoption. Businesses must closely monitor and analyse how customers use their SaaS products. They can gather user data and conduct surveys. The possibility of onboarding obstacles or places requiring more training and support can be determined using these insights.

    Additionally, businesses can encourage a positive user experience and promote excellent product adoption rates, improving customer retention by proactively engaging with customers and offering tailored onboarding help.

    Net Promoter Score (NPS):

    NPS measures a customer's satisfaction level with a product and their likelihood of recommending it to others. It is a valuable tool for gauging customer sentiment, but it is a trailing indicator that is contingent upon the successful completion of onboarding and ongoing customer engagement.

    Even though NPS is a retrospective metric, it can be combined with real-time customer feedback systems to become a leading indicator. Regular NPS implementation and monitoring changes in customer sentiment over time can assist in spotting potential problems early on. A falling NPS score may indicate issues with the product's overall usability or the onboarding procedure.

    Organisations may reduce the risk of customer churn and increase overall satisfaction, which will positively affect long-term retention, by regularly monitoring NPS and responding to customer complaints as soon as they arise.

    Relationship with Key Stakeholders:

    Building a solid relationship with key stakeholders, such as customers and your internal teams, is essential for customer success. However, the success of onboarding and the capacity to deliver on promises of value can significantly impact the health of these relationships.

    Beyond the initial onboarding stage, developing solid relationships with key stakeholders is a constant effort. Open lines of communication and frequent check-ins with stakeholders are essential during onboarding to resolve any concerns and obtain feedback.

    Thanks to this collaborative approach, organisations can better grasp client expectations and adapt their product offers accordingly. The customer experience is improved, and long-lasting relationships are fostered by maintaining continual contact with key stakeholders through personalised touchpoints and pertinent resources, leading to customer loyalty and advocacy.

    True Success Metrics [Leading Indicators]

    SaaS organisations must find genuine leading indicators beyond conventional metrics to achieve meaningful client success. These forerunners help shape a customer-centric strategy by offering insightful information on customer needs, preferences, and expectations.

    Identifying the gaps between consumer use cases and the product offering is essential. To ensure their solutions align with specific use cases and increase customer happiness and retention.

    Gaps between Customer Use Cases and Product:

    A primary leading indication is determining the gaps between consumer use cases and the product offering. Organisations can comprehend clients better wants and adapt their solutions as a result.

    A thorough grasp of customer demands is necessary to pinpoint and address gaps between consumer use cases and the product offering. Companies may learn a lot about the problems customers seek to solve with their products by conducting in-depth customer interviews and surveys. Armed with this information, businesses may modify their onboarding process to meet specific use cases, ensuring that clients use the product successfully right away.

    Tracking and Closing Gaps during Pre-sales to Go-live:

    Cross-functional teams' proactive collaboration during the pre-sales stage creates the foundation for a successful onboarding process. Early consideration of client needs results in a smoother transition to the go-live phase.

    Practical cross-functional collaboration between the sales, customer success, and product teams is essential during pre-sales. Regular gatherings and knowledge exchange help fill any knowledge gaps regarding client requirements. Organisations may ensure a smooth transition from sales to onboarding, a smoother transfer for customers, and a more successful go-live by incorporating customer success and implementation teams early in the sales process

    Customer-Centric Product Roadmap Prioritization:

    A customer-centric approach can be seen in how the product roadmap is prioritised depending on consumer wants and input. It increases the possibility of customer success by coordinating product development with real-world use cases.

    An in-depth comprehension of client demands is necessary for spotting and addressing gaps between consumer use cases and the product offering. Companies can learn a great deal about the problems customers seek to solve with their products by conducting in-depth customer interviews and surveys. Armed with this knowledge, businesses may modify their onboarding procedure to accommodate various use cases, ensuring that clients successfully use the product immediately.

    Common Understanding of Customer Use Cases:

    Ensuring that the CS, Implementation, Product, Tech, and QA teams have a standard knowledge of the client use cases is essential. By aligning interests, it is possible to present planned use cases during onboarding rather than just product features.

    Effective communication and collaboration are required to ensure that various teams have a common understanding of consumer use cases. Regular gatherings, workshops, and cross-functional training sessions can promote information exchange and guarantee that all parties participating in the customer experience are on the same page. A concerted effort during onboarding is made possible by a cohesive approach to understanding customer use cases, which reduces misunderstandings and gives consumers a consistent, satisfying experience.

    Time-to-Value and Value Delivery:

    A crucial leading sign is the time between the conclusion of sales and a successful go-live. It proves how quickly value can be delivered and how effective the onboarding process is. Furthermore, calculating the difference between the value promised and the value given provides insightful data on consumer satisfaction.

    Tracking significant checkpoints during onboarding is necessary to calculate the time-to-value from sales closure to a successful go-live. This information can be utilised to streamline the onboarding process and spot potential bottlenecks for consumers. To manage customer expectations and prevent likely discontent, it is also helpful to create clear expectations with consumers during the sales process regarding the time it takes to deliver value. Customer satisfaction and retention can be significantly impacted by consistently monitoring and improving time-to-value metrics since customers who rapidly see the worth of a product are more likely to remain interested in it.

    Harnessing the Power of Onboarding:

    These leading signs are significant, and leading customer-centric organisations are aware of this. They increase NPS, adoption rates, and client retention by concentrating on the onboarding process and pre-sales alignment. Additionally, this customer-centered strategy significantly reduces costs, saving time and money that would otherwise be used to deal with problems that develop after adoption.

    Customer-centric businesses may provide a solid foundation for long-term success and growth by utilising the power of onboarding. Positive first impressions and a sense of security in the worth of the product are fostered by a well-done onboarding process, which also sets the tone for the entire customer experience. Customers are more likely to adopt the product and become devoted champions with a seamless and customised onboarding experience.

    Customer success teams are essential in helping clients navigate the onboarding process, identifying their particular needs, and customising the journey as necessary. By taking a hands-on approach, businesses may address discrepancies between consumer use cases and the product, guaranteeing that the offering aligns entirely with the customer's objectives.

    Companies may prioritise improvements that address real consumer needs and optimize their product roadmap, boosting customer satisfaction and retention.

    Additionally, concentrating on the onboarding process from the pre-sales stage onward enables cross-functional teams to communicate smoothly, working together to satisfy client expectations and quickly deliver value.

    Organizations can proactively identify and close gaps during the pre-sales phase to avoid costly and time-consuming reactive firefighting scenarios after implementation. This tactical move conserves resources and improves customer satisfaction and overall operational effectiveness.


    While NPS, adoption, and bug tracking are still crucial traditional metrics, they only tell a portion of the customer success narrative. We must concentrate on the leading signs that affect these metrics for a complete picture.

    Customers' experiences are shaped by onboarding from the beginning of their journey, making it the ultimate leading indicator. The secret to achieving excellence in the competitive landscape of corporate SaaS companies will be to embrace customer-centricity and use data-driven insights.

    SaaS companies can gain a significant competitive edge in the market by leveraging the potential of onboarding as the ultimate leading signal. Customer-centric businesses that emphasize onboarding generate a positive feedback loop where happy customers result in more outstanding NPS scores, more adoption, lower churn, and ultimately higher customer lifetime value.

    These businesses may also continuously enhance their onboarding procedure, strengthen their product offerings, and proactively respond to consumer requests thanks to data-driven operational excellence.

    Customer-centricity and data-driven decision-making will be even more critical as the SaaS business develops to achieve sustainable success. During the onboarding process, companies that invest in knowing their customers' specific use cases, problems, and preferences will be better able to deliver solutions that are valuable to and appealing to their target market.

    Onboarding is a continuous process cornerstone of fruitful, long-lasting client connections. SaaS organisations can form stronger relationships with their customers, develop devoted advocates, and prosper in a constantly shifting and competitive environment by recognising onboarding as the accurate leading indication of customer success and aligning it with a customer-centric approach.

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