Client Onboarding Metrics - How do you measure a successful client onboarding?

Anchit Ghai
August 9, 2021

Do they understand the returns that they’re getting from it? This is something that needs to be assessed while you onboard your customer. Onboarding is an important part of a customer’s experience. 63% of clients claim that they factor in the onboarding process while planning to purchase a product. This article sheds light on the different success metrics that you can use to evaluate your onboarding process.



Evaluating your onboarding process: Is it really necessary?


Many companies struggle with evaluating the success of their onboarding processes. This has become harder since the pandemic rocked the world. Most SaaS companies have now adopted remote onboarding processes keeping in mind the safety of their employees and their customers. While that may be a welcome change, evaluating the success of a remote onboarding process is often harder than usual. 


Your onboarding process will determine how well and for how long your customers use your product. Thus, it is important to keep a check on how well your onboarding process works for your customers. You’ll need ways and means to obtain feedback from your customers as they may leave a lot of things unsaid. 83% of clients state that they would prefer to stick with a company that invests in onboarding and training them. Moreover, starting off with your software may be a huge deal for your customers. Thus, you need to measure how well you’re able to guide them through the change.


On a personal front, I have noticed that a timely evaluation of the onboarding process is vital. It can help you shore up any potential loss of revenue that may occur due to customers dropping off. Moreover, a robust onboarding process can help your customers run your product independently and feel more comfortable with it. I also firmly believe that your onboarding process needs to evolve with time as per customer and market demands.



NPS: The grandfather of all success metrics

NPS stands for ‘Net Promoter Score’. It is the gold standard in the Customer Success Industry for measuring the satisfaction of customers. To get started with calculating the NPS for your customers, the first step is to create a basic set of questions that will help you gauge their sentiment and product usage. Different companies use different formats and sets of questions in order to acquire an NPS score from their customers. 


The next step is to create a form or set up a mechanism to acquire the responses to the decided questions from your customers. Most companies use tools like Google Forms or Survey Monkey in order to run NPS surveys. It is important to remember that all your customers will be responding to the same set of pre-decided questions. If you’re just starting off with an NPS mechanism, you can find a quick NPS template here. Based on your product and your industry domain, we highly encourage you to customize your NPS acquisition mechanism.


Categorizing customers based on the NPS score

As per industry standards, the NPS score is calculated on a scale of 0-10. However, some companies multiply their NPS scores by 10 and calculate them from 0-100. This essentially just changes the scale of the NPS score but doesn’t impact the fundamental basis or outcome of the NPS score.


The general industry standard indicates that the average NPS of all customers should be maintained over 7. An NPS score of over 7 indicates that your customers are generally happy with their onboarding process. It also indicated that they like your product. If your score falls below 7, that should set off alarm bells. It indicates that you need to make improvements to your onboarding process to provide a better experience to your customers.


Following are the general classifications of customers based on the NPS score:

  • NPS Score between 9-10: 

These customers are referred to as ‘Promoters’. Promoters are loyal and active users of your product who can be targeted for upsells, cross-sells and referrals.

  • NPS score between 7-8: 

These customers are called ‘Passives’. These are customers that are largely indifferent and may be swayed by your competitors. An onboarding process that focuses on the USPs of your product and emphasizes upon the ROI may be needed in order to convert probable Passives into Promoters.

  • NPS score between 0-6: 

These customers are generally called ‘Retractors’. These customers are generally unhappy with your product. An onboarding process with greater handholding and touchpoints can help increase the NPS score of this segment of customers.


You may need to roll out a periodic NPS survey in order to capture the latest sentiment of your customers. You can also roll out an NPS survey during the various stages of the onboarding process. Tracking the delta or change in the NPS score of your customers over time can help determine how to tweak your onboarding process in order to keep your customers happy. Charting the course of the NPS score of each customer over time can help you take pre-emptive action before the sentiment of a customer severely deteriorates. 


The NPS score is a quick and quantifiable way to measure the success of your onboarding process. You may choose to obtain more information on how to calculate the NPS score and roll out the NPS surveys before fixing a policy for your company. NPS Surveys can help you evaluate onboarding process from time to time. I have personally used falling NPS scores as an indicator of churn. It has helped me come up with churn projections and also arrest chrun in some cases. Relying on the NPS score to evaluate the health of your clients is an industry-wide practice and you can look to inculcate within your company.


This graph shows the NPS score of some of the top SaaS companies on a scale of 1 to 100:


(Data Source: https://www.comparably.com/brands/top-1000-brands)


New Module Adoption vs Existing Workflow Alignment

Your customers come with an existing workflow for doing the same thing that they intend to use your product for. It is important to align their existing workflow with your own product workflow to guarantee a smooth onboarding process. However, just aligning the existing workflow will not ensure the long-term retention of the customer. It is the bare minimum that you need to do in order to get the customer to adopt your platform sustainably. New module adoption is a vital KPI for onboarding process that increases customer stickiness to your product.


To ensure that your customers make the most out of your product and experience a greater ROI, you need to get them to adopt the new modules that your product offers. New Modules are additional features of your product that did not factor in with the existing workflow that your customers had before signing up to use your product. These new modules will ensure that your customers experience better results through your product and also ensure that they stick with your product. 


You may need to handhold your customers and train them in order for them to adopt the new modules that your software has to offer. The extent of adoption of the newer modules is a vital aspect that affects your onboarding success rate. 



The Adoption Score

Your product will have different modules and aspects with varying levels of criticality. All your customers will use the critical modules. Other modules with a lower level of criticality serve as a value addition to your customers. However, it is important that your customers also adopt the modules that may not be critical to the workflow but offer an additional value. 


To measure this, you can come up with an adoption score for all your customers. This can be done by individually scoring each module and allotting higher benchmark scores to the more critical modules. Alternatively, you can come up with an adoption score for your entire customer base by using a simple formula. You can divide the number of new active users by the total signups. Additionally, you can then multiply this adoption score by 100 to come up with a percentage. You can dig deeper on how to assess and leverage the adoption score to improve your customer onboarding. 


The adoption score is an important metric to measure the success of your onboarding process. A higher adoption score means that your onboarding process is successful since your customers are using your product well after getting onboarded. The adoption score, if used properly can be a vital part of the success criteria for onboarding new customers.



Building an Onboarding Progression Plan and Report

The onboarding phase can be a trying time for your customers even though you’re adept at onboarding customers. Change management is a huge part of the onboarding process as your customers may be transitioning from an archaic model or from one of your competitors. You need to ensure that your onboarding process takes cognizance of this and ensures a smooth transition to your product.

  1. Onboarding Progression Plan

You can break down your onboarding process into different stages to make the process easier. Subsequently, your customers need to be aware of the stages and the expected dates for the completion of various stages. You can create an excel sheet to highlight the expected dates of completion for the various stages of onboarding and share them with your customer. A customer onboarding process flow will help your customer understand the milestones and the timeline plotted to achieve the same.


  1. Onboarding Progression Report

You first need to plot the various stages of onboarding and their timelines. Then, you need to keep your customers updated about the same. While plotting an onboarding timeline is useful, you will realise that it often gets revised. You may have to revisit the timeline repeatedly. This could be due to internal delays to the onboarding process or because your customers have other obligations to fulfil. An onboarding progression report highlights the customer onboarding framework and sets deadlines for its completion.


It is important that you keep your customer constantly updated about the progress and the revised timeline. To achieve this, you can use an archaic model involving a shared Google Sheet. You can plot all the milestones with the dates of completion on Google Sheets and share them with your customer. Subsequently, you can update it from time to time for your customer’s reference. Alternatively, you can also use modern tools like shared dashboards that keep your customers actively updated about their onboarding progress.



Final Thoughts

It is important to quantify the success metrics of your onboarding process in order to determine its efficacy and efficiency. Your onboarding process needs constant feedback so that you can tweak it to achieve maximum comfort and success rate. Moreover, the onboarding process is a high touchpoint exercise. You need to be in constant communication with your customers about their progress and milestones. You can head over to EverAfter.ai and book a demo with them to explore their two-way interactive dashboards that help you constantly stay in touch with your customers!

About the writer

An engineer by profession, Anchit Ghai has spent the last year working in Customer Success in the US SaaS industry. Moreover, Anchit has held several leadership positions during his stint at Toastmasters International and won several accolades for public speaking. Anchit is committed towards contributing to the CS domain and is a huge proponent of value-based onboarding. He is an Impact MBA scholar at the Global Governance Initiative and he will be pursuing the coveted MSc in Management degree at Imperial College London from September onwards.



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