Product Teams

Keep Your Onboarding Fresh: Pt 1

Published Apr 27, 2016

6 Tips to Keep the Onboarding Love Alive

Whether you are new to managing the onboarding experience or wear this part of the customer life-cycle like an old hat, you know that onboarding needs to remain fresh and engaging—yet repeatable at the same time. But how? It’s like going on a blind date over and over again. (Swipe left! Swipe right!) So how can you get this relationship off to a great start? Here are the 6 ways to keep your onboarding hotter than a summer romance.

Tip #1: Make it Personal (Charm them.)

First, work internally to outline a process that works to move customers through a clear onboarding plan. Second, understand your user base by defining segments. By taking a common denominator and finding trends within those groups, you can begin to understand personas and tailor experiences for those customer types—different strokes for different folks. And third, ask questions. Are you consistently onboarding users within the same job role? Are they typically from a certain vertical or line of business? How do the needs of these groups differ and how does onboarding look to all of them?

Tip #2: The hand-off (Be a smooth operator.)

How do you get everyone on the same page? Get involved! Work with your sales team to devise a plan of when it makes sense to begin your engagement with a new customer. Remember everyone is different.

Does it make sense to introduce the Customer Success Manager before the onboarding really kicks off? Sometimes, yes. Get the team together and wrap your arms around those customers that need love and want to hold hands. Set a plan that makes everyone feel comfortable, gets them the initial support they need to start, and sets them up to run independently in the future.

Tip#3 : The kick-off (You really get me!)

Everyone loves to be understood. Once the deal is closed, try sending out an onboarding questionnaire. Ask your new customer, what value he or she wants to get out of this relationship! It’s better to understand your customer and establish their needs early on. Remember, relationships are meant to grow and evolve. Nothing is set in stone. However, keeping a record allows you to chart a new course and steer the relationship into the right direction no matter what changes may come up. Everyone likes to know what they are getting into from the start! (This way no one ends up throwing an ex’s clothes on the lawn and setting them on fire.)

Tip #4: Introductions (Time to meet the family.)

Set expectations with your customers to minimize misunderstandings. Work with your sales team to outline what is expected by both parties and what will happen once your new customer is ready to rock and roll with their engagement. Make it known who will work with the customer through onboarding, where they can reach out for support and who the main point of contact is throughout the process. Do this more than once. Tell them on the phone, through email and in a checklist/contact handout. Don’t be the guy/gal who says they’ll call and three weeks later, you still get crickets.

Tip #5: Establish timelines (Keep the honeymoon glow.)

No one wants to live in the onboarding period forever. Discuss the plans for the engagement, I have worked with many different products inside of different organizations. Let the customer know the definition of onboarding. Establish timelines for different phases of the engagement. Ease your customer into independence! They will thank you for it!

Tip#6: Change is Good (See the piña-colada song.)

Test new approaches, keep what works and establish a process that is repeatable. Try a new approach if your usual process is failing. You’ll learn something. And no matter what happens, keep calm and confident. Like trying a new restaurant, it’s new and exciting. Restaurant customers evaluate the service, the food, and the decor. You’re the sophisticated maître d’ you ensuring the customer experience is perfect and seamless. This means that customers not only return for multiple visits, but they become champions of your product. You’ll be less stressed and your customers will notice.

Tip# 7: Make it repeatable. Repeatable. Repeatable.

Take note of what process steps work, what doesn’t work and why. There’s a reason some people use the same pick-up lines over and over, right? They work great until they don’t work at all. And so you try something new. Practice makes perfect!

Alix Harris is Pendo’s Customer Success Maître D’ (and our own personal “Dear Abby”). Subscribe to our blog today and get new posts on customer success delivered right to your inbox. It’s like pizza delivery every week, but it won’t make you wear elastic-waist pants.