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One of the most ‘necessary ingredients’ for fruitful customer success onboarding, one of the most important assets is the customer success manager’s knowledge about the product/service the customer has purchased as a result of believing in its value proposition.
Detailed, thorough product knowledge is the core enabler for identifying the differentiating features and components you can offer to your customers. CSM product knowledge also results in a personalized, well-built and overall better customer onboarding process according to what your customer needs.
Believing and understanding the type of your product’s true and unique value offering is extremely important, but turning your customers into being your product evangelists will do wonders to your business.
Becoming a product expert
You can’t become a product evangelist without understanding the key components of your product and what kind of value it can deliver to customers.
By investing your time in learning about your product, you will understand what is the value proposition of every feature, so even before you begin onboarding your customers you already know exactly what features can be of most value to them, thus enabling you to personalize the onboarding process as much as you can and tailor the product deliveries to your customers needs.
By the time the customer begins their onboarding, they will be amazed by how quickly most of their pain points and desired outcomes are being addressed from the get-go, thus getting a clearer picture of how your product with your guidance can help their business grow.
Breaking down the product offering
When you already know the most important features of your product, understand how it works and the technical requirements to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your product, you can easily break down the product into different parts in order to create a smoother and more relevant onboarding experience.
Begin by identifying what is the first thing the customer needs to learn/do in order to reach their first time to value, since this will be the first time the customer will be experiencing value from your product/service it has to come early in the onboarding and it has to be easy to implement/use.
Once the customer is on board and excited to learn more, you can continue to add more features that are not too advanced and are related to the challenges/pain points the customer is trying to address, that way, as you progress with the onboarding, the customer’s perception of value increases with it.
As you’re getting closer to completing covering all of the “basic” features, you can then move to the more advanced part of the product, which are features that require a basic understanding of how your product works and also a certain level of maturity from your client when using your product, this stage will basically begin turning your customers into product experts which will enable them to understand exactly the type of potential value your product/service can deliver if utilized properly.
Define the customer onboarding flow
Once you have broken down your product into sections, you can plug them into your onboarding process and begin to define it.
When defining the onboarding, you need to keep two key things in mind:
- What can add more value to my customer
- How can I personalize it the onboarding to my customer’s desired outcome
The first point will allow you to personalize the onboarding according to the features that will add more value to the customer, whereas the second point will enable you to showcase these features in a way that is most relevant to your customer, for example, if you know feature A will be valuable to the customer, then present the customer how feature A solves one of their challenges or helps them achieve one of their objectives.
This should allow CSMs to identify what are the key features of your product that customers should be using in order to achieve their business objectives thus personalizing the whole onboarding experience according to what the customer needs.
How to improve client onboarding process
Once the onboarding flow is defined, it is time to execute it and see it in action. After onboarding a few customers, it is critical to measure the overall impact it will have over the customer’s LTV as well as the main KPIs that will help you identify what parts of the onboarding flow could be improved as well as how to improve it.
The best indicators to understand if the onboarding process is successful or not are net retention and account growth, but for obvious reasons, CSMs can’t and should not wait until a customer is renewed or upsold to improve the onboarding flow. There are “sanity check” metrics that every SaaS organization should have in place so that CSMs can identify what areas or how the onboarding process can be improved.
- Product adoption rate: This metric should give you an idea of how many of your new customers are actually engaged with your product anda are actively using your product. You will need to create the definition of what you consider as an engaged user so you can calculate the rate correctly, it can be a customer logging in on a daily basis into your platform or a customer that is using 75% of the available features, or a customer that has achieved specific milestones, this is up to the CS organization to define.
The formula to calculate this is: (New engaged users / Total signups)*100
Personally, I would recommend doing this both per customer, to understand what’s the product adoption rate per account and also per CSM portfolio as a whole. This metric should allow CSMs to identify how healthy their customer portfolio is overall and exactly which customers are the ones that aren’t fully leveraging the value your product offers to then evaluate what might be the reason and how to ensure this is included in the onboarding flow for future customers.
- Adoption rate: The difference between this metric and the one above, is that adoption rate focuses solely on a specific feature. This enables the CSMs to easily identify exactly which features the customers are missing out on and can develop a strategy to solve this situation. If after/during the onboarding you see the adoption rate for key features is low, then this is a great indicator for the CS organization to optimize and improve the onboarding flow/content.
The formula is: (# of new users of a feature/ total number of users) * 100
- Time-to-first key action (aha moment): This metric will allow you to identify how long it’s taking your customers to use a specific key feature that your product offers. Ideally, you want your customers reaching this KPI as soon as possible since this increases their perception of value your product delivers. If it takes more than the target time to reach such a milestone, then you know that something needs to be improved within the onboarding.
Other relevant metrics that you could implement are: % of users who performed the key action for the first time, stickiness (DAU/MAU), average usage frequency (as a whole or per feature), and times using a specific feature.
As you measure more data, you’ll be able to understand what works best within the onboarding, and most importantly, you should be able to identify trends for specific type of customer segments that will not only allow you to optimize and improve the onboarding flow as a whole but also customize and personalize it according to what your customers are looking for.
Becoming a product expert and evangelist is key to defining an onboarding process that will ultimately guide and enable customers to achieve their desired outcome with your product.
Understanding which components of your product are the ones that provide the most value and being able to build scalable onboarding processes that will lead customers to fully leverage the value your product has to offer will ultimately lead to a higher net retention, revenue growth and to improve the overall customer LTV.