Harris Clarke

VP of Operations at GuideCX, Harris has taken his experience in big data and customer experience to unlock insights and provide products that have revolutionized B2B customer experience.

Improve Client Onboarding Success by Managing Expectations During Onboarding

Most companies have experienced a situation where they delivered exactly what the customer needed, but in the end, the client was still unhappy with the outcome and dissatisfied with the process. Usually, it’s because the client had certain expectations about what would happen during onboarding, and your onboarding team—for whatever reason—missed the mark. The most common reasons it happens are: 

  • Making promises during onboarding you can’t keep.
  • Delivering a cookie-cutter software program or training that isn’t customized for the client’s individual needs (or not knowing the client’s unique needs in the first place).
  • Missing deadlines and/or not completing the onboarding process on time.
  • Not providing proper training to allow the client to achieve their desired outcome, or not involving the right people at the right time on the customer side.
  • A lack of communication between the purchasing team and the onboarding team. Those implementing may not even understand what was purchased.

One of the most important parts of the onboarding process is being able to manage your client’s expectations from the start. That way you can deliver the exact product and services they need, on the promised timeline. Research from McKinsey & Company found that even small improvements in touchpoints during the onboarding journey can dramatically improve the chance that a client stays with you in the long term. The client onboarding software you use will play a critical role in your ability to properly manage expectations throughout onboarding.

 

Create a Detailed Plan and Onboarding Schedule

As your new client enters onboarding, one of the first things you should do is set clear expectations for the onboarding duration and schedule. This is especially critical in longer onboarding processes. You need to be able to maintain a high level of client engagement and excitement throughout the process so they will adopt your software and successfully use it to achieve their business goals. Making them wait weeks or months without any clear delivery date (or constantly moving the date back) will probably destroy any excitement they had at the start.

 

Assign Clear Tasks and Roles

Your team needs to know their role in the onboarding process, but clients often have a role to play as well. One thing that can dramatically delay an onboarding process is waiting on clients for information or data. Most project management platforms only allow you to assign roles to internal team members, but GuideCX allows you to add clients to the process (without added user licensing fees) so you can assign them tasks along the way. They’ll get reminder emails or other notifications on platforms such as Slack when something is due, which can keep the process moving. 

 

Report Regularly

Progress reports are a great way to keep everyone on the same page, provide information about any delays that come up, and motivate your internal team and your client’s team to meet their task deadlines. GuideCX offers automated reports that show where the onboarding process is, and what still needs to happen. These can be scheduled to send via email to anyone on your team and your client’s team (including higher-ups who aren’t involved in the onboarding process but have a vested interest in the outcome). This takes a significant amount of manual work off your plate but still keeps everyone in the loop. Plus it can cut down on all those phone calls and emails from the client asking for a status update, and give you a chance to explain any delays. 

 

Get GuideCX for Better Onboarding

GuideCX offers industry-leading software that is changing the way companies onboard new clients for the better. Try out our free 14-day trial today!

Your Customer’s Perspectives with Tobias Kederer (Podcast)

Are you seeing things from your customer’s perspective?

We sat down with Tobias Kederer to talk about the modern dynamics of onboarding new customers. Tobias has consulted in the CS/CX space for decades, and we’re excited to share his wisdom.

He covers how to scale with simplicity, how to start measuring time to value more effectively, and how to keep a pulse on your team’s engagement.

Enjoy!

Harris Clarke

Ongoing Onboarding with Donna Weber (Podcast)

Taking your onboarding to the next level

Our very own Harris Clarke interviews Donna Weber who is passionate about engaging customers.

Donna specializes in the post-sales customer success journey. With over 20 years’ experience, she has a proven track record helping high growth tech firms create customers for life.

Enjoy!

Harris Clarke

Reducing Scope-Creep with Better Client Onboarding

The onboarding process is a time when your team is building a relationship with new clients, and as the “first impression” after the sales process is complete, it sets expectations for the future relationship between your company and your client.

Unfortunately, many companies treat onboarding as a time to just check a few boxes but fail to use it as an opportunity to create the right relationship, build rapport, and establish best practices. In the absence of setting expectations early, clients may start making demands beyond the scope of your contract (often referred to as “scope-creep”), and once you go down that path it can be difficult to say no without damaging your relationship. Here are some key steps you can take during onboarding to prevent it.

 

Outline the Entire Onboarding Process

The most important thing your onboarding team can do when they get a new client from the sales team is to create a detailed onboarding plan. Present this plan to your client in a kickoff meeting, and discuss any questions or concerns before the project begins to ensure you didn’t miss anything important that the client was expecting. If there are significant gaps between the client’s expectations and what is in the contract, you may need to involve your sales team to resolve those things in advance.

 

Set up Tasks and Realistic Timelines

Once you have a plan in place, the next step is to turn it into a detailed series of steps and milestones, each with realistic timelines. The easiest way to do this is with a client onboarding project management system. GuideCX allows you to quickly create new projects with templates that include some of the basic onboarding tasks that are always part of your process, but that can also be completely customized to fit the needs of individual clients.

 

Be Transparent

One of the biggest challenges during onboarding is transparent communication about the status of the project. Project management software is usually set up to allow unlimited internal communication and collaboration among your team members, but leaves clients in the dark when it comes to schedule, process, and tasks. That can cause frustration if clients feel like there’s nothing happening, and lead to demands that are outside the scope of the contract. GuideCX allows you to include clients in the project management process so they can see a project overview, progress indicators, and tasks along the way. It also removes extra work for someone on your team to constantly keep the client informed through manual reports, emails, or phone calls.

 

Outline the Rules for Expansion

If there are opportunities for your team to expand the scope of your onboarding process, discuss those in the kickoff meeting with any appropriate guidelines for how a client can request it. For example, discuss add-on features or services along with pricing from the start, so there is a clear understanding of what they can add and what it will cost.

To learn more about the benefits of GuideCX in reducing the potential for scope-creep in your onboarding process, schedule a demo today.

How to Decrease Churn Rates by Improving Time-to-Value

Happy customers will usually stick with you, while unhappy customers will usually leave to do business with one of your competitors. The rate that customers leave is referred to as “churn,” and the higher your churn rate, the more time, money, and effort your sales team has to spend on bringing in new business. It’s a well-known fact that client retention is less expensive than new client acquisition, but many companies don’t realize how early in the process a customer decides whether they are happy. It’s often very early—during onboarding—when you need to show a client why your product is valuable and can help them achieve their goals.

 

Understand and Quantify Your Churn Rate

The first step toward reducing churn rates is understanding and quantifying it. We won’t go into a lot of detail here, but this article discusses ways to measure churn, and why it’s important to use the right metric based on your company and industry. You should also do some benchmarking to make sure your churn rates aren’t unusually high (which could indicate a much larger problem with your sales or product).

 

Start Early to Reduce Churn Rates

Once you know your churn rates, the next step is to have a strategy in place to keep them as low as possible, starting with onboarding. That is your first interaction with your new client outside of a sales process, and it sets the stage for how the client will view you and your products for the long-term. You may even be working with an entirely different group of people than your sales team did if the person who made the decision and signed the contract isn’t the person who is going to use the software every day. The onboarding process is like a second sales pitch where you need to sell the users on features, services, and value.

 

Speed Up Time-to-Value

One of the best ways to impress your new clients and set the stage for a long and successful relationship is by shortening time-to-value (TTV). Early in the process of implementation, the customer curiosity, attention, and excitement are at an all-time high. Capitalize on that excitement and engagement by getting them to their first win as quickly as possible:

  • Use information from your sales team to understand why a customer purchased your product, and what they hope to achieve
  • Cater their onboarding experience to get them to that point as fast as you can
  • Show them your plan and timeline for onboarding (and stick to it)
  • Communicate regularly about onboarding progress
  • Give them tasks to keep them engaged so onboarding doesn’t feel like they were handed off from sales and forgotten

Reducing churn is about getting your clients to the point where they know your product is solving a problem and they can easily integrate into their own workflows. Onboarding is your chance to show them, and the right onboarding tools from GuideCX can help you get there. Schedule a demo today to find out more.

Saas vs PaaS vs IaaS – Which is Right for You? (Part 2)

In part one of this blog, we discussed the various differences between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS as it pertains to cloud computing and data management. If you haven’t read that yet and need a quick overview of each one, we recommend going back and reading it first.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each

Once you know what each one does, the next step is to explore when each is applicable, and some of the advantages and disadvantages they offer.

 

IaaS

  • You maintain control of a lot of your IT infrastructure
  • It’s easy to scale up as your business grows
  • It is usually a safer and more cost-effective option than investing in physical hardware
  • It can be costly and require a lot of labor (employees) to manage properly

 

PaaS

  • A third-party vendor gives you the hardware and software tools you need, and you use it to develop your own applications
  • Gives you the tools you need to develop your own software applications without the high costs to purchase and maintain on-premise IT hardware
  • There is little investment and lower risk with this approach if your business is centered around building software, or you want to develop in-house or proprietary applications
  • Can save your developers a lot of time and money while writing code

 

SaaS

  • Everything is delivered entirely over the internet
  • There are no hardware or software requirements (just internet access)
  • These platforms usually come with a simple fee structure, such as a monthly subscription or license model; costs are fixed and you know what they will be
  • You can easily add new members of your team with the purchase of additional licenses or by upgrading your subscription tier
  • Information on the platform is accessible from anywhere and any device

For most companies, the simplicity and hassle-free nature of SaaS make it a popular choice. Solutions are ready out of the box (and most can be customized for your needs), plus all the maintenance, compliance, and security are taken care of in your agreement.

GuideCX offers your company a SaaS solution for client onboarding that is simple and easy. Our platform gives you all the tools you need to get clients onboarded with ease and collaborate with your team and your clients.

One of the unique features we provide is the ability to white-label our onboarding project management system, so your clients will only see your logo and your company information during the onboarding process. On the back end, you’ll have access to all our tools to create a seamless experience for clients without the need to develop your own software program.

Talk to our team today to learn more about our client onboarding software and how it can help your team.

Saas vs PaaS vs IaaS – Which is Right for You? (Part 1)

If you don’t live and breathe tech industry language, you might be a little confused about all the acronyms that end with “as-a-service” out there today. These include software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). All these are forms of cloud computing, but before you dive into one or the other, here’s a quick guide to help you understand each a little better.

 

The Expansion of the Cloud

It wasn’t long ago that most companies housed their data in on-premise servers, but as data volumes grow exponentially year after year, it’s expensive and difficult to have enough servers plus the facilities and staff to manage them on site. On-site data storage puts your data at risk of loss from theft, fire, natural disaster, flood, or something similar.

For that reason, most companies are moving their data to the cloud. All three of these services are growing significantly as companies look for ways to reduce costs and improve data security but there are a few key differences between them.

 

Comparing SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS

The easiest way to compare these three types of cloud computing is by looking at what you manage vs what a third-party manages when it comes to hardware and software applications. These three options are like a series of “steps” where the third party manages progressively more as you move through each step.

For on-premise data storage you manage everything:

  • Applications
  • Data
  • Runtime
  • Middleware
  • Operating system (OS)
  • Virtualization
  • Servers
  • Storage
  • Networking

As you move to IaaS, PaaS, then SaaS, more of these things are delivered via the internet (you can check out a visual of this on Hosting Advice).

  • IaaS: you manage applications, data, runtime, middleware, and OS
  • PaaS: you manage only applications and data
  • SaaS: a third party manages everything

You can use a combination of two or more of these services, but that often depends on the size and complexity of your needs. Unless you have a robust IT infrastructure already, or you are a company that develops your own software, SaaS products often make the most sense because they give you access to the tools you need without any significant investment in infrastructure and hardware. All the tools are delivered via the internet, and the third-party vendor manages data security, maintenance, and compliance for you.

In part two of this blog we’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of each option to help you determine which one might work best for your client onboarding needs.

GuideCX offers a SaaS client onboarding program that gives you the ability to customize your onboarding needs. Schedule a demo to find out more today.

Using Psychology to Your Advantage in Client Onboarding

The onboarding process is a time for you to show your clients how to use your product or platform, but it’s more than just a training session. Successful onboarding will help clients get to a point where they are able to maximize your product to achieve the goals that made them want to purchase it in the first place.

You can use psychology—the study of minds and our behaviors—to your advantage in the process. This is especially useful if your onboarding process is long or your product is complicated and requires a lot of buy-in from your client to work as intended. Here are a few ways to keep your clients engaged through the process.

 

1: Keep Things Simple

Many companies assume that the more information you give your clients, the better. Too many choices and too much information can be detrimental, according to one study where researchers discovered “action paralysis”—that more choices can make a person feel too overwhelmed to make a decision. During onboarding, keep things as simple as you can and provide clear and concise instructions to move forward in the process.

 

2: Give People Tasks to Complete

Have you ever noticed that television shows often end an episode or season with a cliffhanger? The reason is that psychologically people want things to be complete, so they are more likely to come back next week or next season to see how it ends. You don’t need to create Hollywood-level suspense in your onboarding, but you can use the psychological desire for completion to your advantage by giving people important tasks that you know will help them succeed when they use your product. For this to work most effectively, you need to have an understanding of the things that create value for your clients and lead to long-term customers, as well as what steps they should take to get there.

 

3: Get Clients Invested

Researchers from Harvard studied the value people place on something and realized that when people have to do some work to create a finished product (like assembling furniture from IKEA), they are willing to pay more for it. They dubbed it the “IKEA Effect”, and you can use it to your advantage. The more you can get your clients involved by assigning them some tasks along the way, the more invested they feel and the higher value they will assign to your product. The GuideCX platform allows you to easily integrate clients in your tasks just like your own team members, allowing them to see their assignment and check off a task as soon as it’s complete. This has the added benefit of keeping everyone accountable because everyone can see who is holding up the process if a task is overdue.

Use software as a tool to create a more effective client onboarding process with GuideCX. Find out how we can improve your onboarding workflow by scheduling a demo.