Customer onboarding is a critical part of the SaaS customer experience. The onboarding experience raises many questions that you and your team must answer if you want to build a powerful and effective structure to get things advancing quickly and smoothly. How do you want to educate your customer about your product? How much should your customer depend on their CSM? This article explores SaaS high-touch onboarding best practices and how EverAfter can help optimize your SaaS onboarding experience.
Think low-touch onboarding could be right for you? Read about it here.
Self-serve, low-touch, and high-touch onboarding
As customers, we'd want every resource available to us at all times. But, as a Customer Success Manager (CSM), it’s important to recognize that different onboarding approaches serve different purposes. Self-service and low-touch onboarding are approaches that focus on setting up an onboarding process requiring minimal intervention from a CSM and enabling the customer to navigate their journey independently. High-touch onboarding is an approach where the CSM plays an active role in providing a personalized experience to the customer. Both can result in high customer satisfaction.
These approaches serve different purposes and are suited to different situations. Low-touch onboarding is suitable for more simple processes and helps the CSM manage many accounts without increasing the workload. High-touch onboarding can be needed if the product requires personalization for the customer, it’s a complex product, there are multiple stakeholders, a large contract, or you want to offer special treatment for an all-star customer.
With EverAfter, so much of the “white-glove” high-touch customer experience like hub personalization and personal reminders can be automated. In other words, the automation that EverAfter offers provides a scalable high-touch experience to the customer and helps with customer retention.
Benefits of high-touch SaaS onboarding
High-touch customer success can feel more intensive in nature, as great efforts are directed toward one-on-one customer interactions. Firstly, this equals greater transparency and accountability. Secondly, there can be a better customer experience as every step of the customer journey is managed closely by the CSM.
The customer is kept in the loop. Keeping your customers regularly informed reminds them that you are there to help them, and they’d much rather hear about a problem straight from the CSM instead of finding it themselves! This has a few follow-on effects, like never feeling lost and greater trust in the CSM.
A high-touch customer experience eases the customer through steep learning curves and complex processes. Don't feel guilty if your product can seem daunting or your implementation process is more complicated than others! No product is the same and some services will always be more intricate than others. The fact is that some products and processes simply require a high-touch approach.
Is high-touch onboarding right for you?
Think about your product. Think about your company. In the world of high-touch SaaS onboarding, companies have no choice but to create and adapt their customer onboarding to suit their unique needs, market, and product. Below we'll raise some situations and considerations that fit a high-touch customer success approach.
- Intricate implementation process: If your onboarding journey includes many technical instructions and complex guidance, high-touch service could be relevant for your customers
- Dealing with multiple stakeholders: If your onboarding journey involves participation and input from different teams, individuals, or decision-makers, then a high-touch approach ensures every person is kept up-to-date, understands, and shares their needs and concerns. And this is relevant if the stakeholders are on the customer-end or implementation-side
- Working with high-profile accounts: This is where the term "white-glove treatment" comes into play. High-profile accounts are a big deal! They show faith in your company and your service, and you don't want to lose them! So, on a superficial level - it's an important consideration to provide high-touch service to these customers (since they're also paying more for your service). Secondly, these accounts can also have unique questions that require personalized solutions (below)
- Customers with a unique use case: Unique use cases are inevitable - and it's important to provide individualized remedies and solutions when they come up
Providing a high-touch customer experience with EverAfter
EverAfter is a versatile system that can support a high-touch customer experience. How can you measure its efficiency? You’ll know high-touch is working if you have stronger customer relationships, an easier experience creating customer advocates, and have strong usage and adoption with a short time to value.
As a CSM, you spend so much time performing repetitive tasks like replying to emails and copy-and-pasting tasks from one spreadsheet to another. Save so much time by automatically sharing relevant content with each customer and communicating with them through their hubs. Similar to the Pareto principle, by focusing 80% of the work on the broader kit level, you can free so much time for other purposes and tasks and make minimal updates on each account page.
You make your customers more accountable with high-touch customer success. In many cases, it’s the customer who causes delays in the onboarding process. If we can make them more accountable, it will result in a shorter onboarding time and lower risk of churn.
Because high-touch onboarding promotes greater participation and communication from all stakeholders, a high-touch kit will differ from a low-touch kit in design. Here are a few practical suggestions for an excellent high-touch kit (or at least consider).
By building a high-touch kit correctly, your customers will appreciate greater transparency, communicate their experience every step of the way, and receive a personalized onboarding experience.
Kit content and widgets
As we keep saying (and for a reason 😊) - EverAfter lets you automate so many parts of high-touch customer experience, freeing up so much of your time and headspace.
- The Timeline widget: Visualize every stage of your journey together, and automate progress by linking milestones to account fields
- The To-do widget:
- If tasks take a similar time across your different customers, use relative due dates to automate the creation of due dates for each customer
- Assign owners to each task and automatically notify them before each deadline
- Consider displaying tasks with a status menu (Not started, In progress, done) instead of a simple checkbox
- Give your customers the ability to add tasks and make changes as required
- Need your customers to share information? Add an information request so they can update information themselves as part of the task plan
- Add embedded content (like a video or calendar link) as a customer action
General kit guidelines
- Resources: Since onboarding will be performed in collaboration with both parties, include enough resources (eg. articles, videos, FAQs) to streamline the onboarding process but not too many to overwhelm your customer. The Share materials and List widgets are suitable for this
- Kit comments: Comments are a simple way for your customers to share targeted questions and thoughts on specific components of their customer journey
- Automatic personalization: Mention parameters can be used throughout your kit to automatically personalize hubs with each customer's information. Just set it up on the kit and have each customer hub personalized accordingly! Use them to personalize widget headings, tabs, and table columns
- Support requests: Maximize transparency with the ability to open, update, and close support requests on the customer hub and CSM view (integrating with JIRA Service Management, Zendesk Support, and Salesforce Service Desk)
- Contacts widget: Centralize the contact information and highlight the roles of all the key players. Add info like phone number, email address, and meeting scheduler (eg. Calendly) straight to the widget
- Meetings widget: You will be having many meetings covering different topics that involve a variety of people. Pull the meetings to one location and list agenda items and meeting recordings. You can even send meeting summaries for each meeting straight from EverAfter and attach any required files
With high-touch SaaS onboarding, you want to maximize your customer communications and the touchpoints used to share updates and information. The great thing is that so many of these processes are automated - making your life so much easier!
- Hub emails: Send personalized emails in bulk to your customers summarizing hub information, listing upcoming tasks, and displaying progress
- Account followers: These are the account VIPs that will automatically be notified about every hub update and you can add followers quickly to each account
- Kickoff meeting: In your kickoff meeting, transform your hub with presentation mode to guide your customers through their hub, stages of the journey, and introduce your team that will be guiding them
- Hub notifications: Direct your customer to specific widgets and add accompanying directions with customer hub notifications - which can also be sent in bulk
- Status tracker: The status tracker on the Tasks page lets you keep track of the progress across your accounts to check if a customer needs a polite nudge or extra assistance, and write and respond to comments
High-touch customer success prevents churn and provides a better customer experience. High-touch is a necessity at times, like for intricate processes, working with multiple stakeholders, or managing high-profile accounts. With EverAfter, you can automate a personalized experience for all your customers regardless of the journey complexity.
EverAfter actively accommodates high-touch SaaS onboarding best practices in the way kits can be built, the widgets that can be utilized, and the many touchpoints that facilitate customer communication.
Want to start building your own high-touch onboarding portal for your customers? Get started here.